Duel: A Conversation with Director Steven Spielberg (2004) Movie Script

You just never know.
You just go along figuring
some things don't change, ever.
Like being able to drive
on a public highway...
without somebody
trying to murder you.
And then one stupid thing happens.
And it's like, there you are,
right back in thejungle again.
My God!
I'd like to report a truck driver
that's been endangering my life.
I was sitting around the office one day,
looking through scripts...
continuing to write, trying to get
my feature film ideas off the ground...
trying to get hired.
My assistant, Nona Tyson,
found Duel.
She said, "I read an article, a short
story by Richard Matheson in Playboy. "
I said, "Why are you reading
Playboy, Nona? Are you kidding?"
She said, "No. I love the fiction. "
She said, "I want you to read this.
I think it's right up your alley. "
I read the short story,
and I said, "Wow. This is terrifying.
This is like a Hitchcock movie. "
It's like Psycho or The Birds,
only it's on wheels.
A truck chasing a salesman
through the desert.
She said, "I also found out that Richard
Matheson is writing a screenplay.
They're gonna do a Movie of the Week,
produced by George Eckstein. "
She gave me this info. I called
Eckstein, who didn't know me from Adam.
Knew of me, because they used
to call me "Sheinberg's Folly"...
'cause I was the young kid
he had hired.
I think I was the youngest person ever
signed to a term contract at Universal.
I wasn't really that highly regarded.
I was this abstract young person...
that only loved lenses and dolly shots
and didn't know anything about acting.
That's the reputation I had then.
I called George Eckstein up and said...
"I've read the short story, but not the
script. Let's talk about this. "
He invited me over to his office
and asked me to bring my best work...
so he could see an example
of my most recent work.
I brought over the rough cut
of Columbo, which hadn't aired yet.
I brought the rough cut over and left it
with him after this conversation.
He saw the cut.
He called me back to his office.
He said, "Okay. Gimme your ideas on how
you'd like to make this into a movie. "
He gave me the script of Duel.
I read the script. I came back,
had another meeting with George.
Gave him all my ideas,
and he said, "I'll get back to you. "
A day went by, two days went by.
I didn't hear a thing.
The third day, I got a call from George.
He said, "I'd like you to direct this. "
It was like the greatest phone call. The
second greatest phone call I ever had.
The first being when Sheinberg called me
and got me out of college...
to, you know, be a director.
The second one was when Eckstein called
and said, "I'd like you to direct Duel. "
That's how it all began.
I was intimately familiar
with the work of Richard Matheson...
because I was a complete obsessive-
compulsive Twilight Zone follower.
So I knew of his work
on the Twilight Zone.
Some of the really
great episodes of that.
You are getting smaller.
Certainly I'm a fan of The Incredible
Shrinking Man, which he authored.
I actually, in one week, got to meet him
and Ray Bradbury for the first time.
It was kind of
a banner week for me.
My attraction to it wasn't
because it was a horror movie.
I didn't really see anything
about it as a western.
I thought it was just
a complete exercise...
in a cat-and-mouse game
of classic suspense.
To give credit where credit is due,
it's Richard Matheson...
that was very clear in his teleplay
that you didn't see the driver.
You might see a hand out the window
telling him to go into oncoming traffic.
You might see his boots, but you
will never see the face of the driver.
That was Richard Matheson. That
attracted me more than anything else.
The unseen is more frightening than
what you throw in the audience's face.
Dennis Weaver was suggested
by the studio...
'cause he had huge ratings
from earlier films on TV.
I love Dennis Weaver,
and I actually had a vote in it.
George Eckstein was saying, "What
do you think of this or that person?"
It was great that they did that, 'cause
he brought me into the casting circle...
and let me consult
on who the network wanted.
When Dennis's name came up,
I said, "It's got to be Dennis Weaver. "
I just went nuts. George said,
"Why are you so hot on Dennis Weaver?"
I said, "You never saw
Touch of Evil?
You never saw the motel caretaker?
It's the greatest-"
I went on and on.
I remember George saying...
"He was pretty good
as Chester in Gunsmoke. "
I said, "That was great, but look at
the characters he played in the movies. "
'Cause I was a big fan of his
from that one film.
He reached a level of anxiety
and panic in Touch of Evil...
and paranoia that I envisioned
David Mann...
the character he was playing in Duel,
arriving at in the story's last act.
That's where I wanted him to get to,
was that character in Touch of Evil.
So when Dennis Weaver said yes, that
was one of the happiest days of my life.
I knew I wanted the car to be red,
because looking at desert locations...
the desert was pretty much beige
and brown and earth colors.
I wanted the car to stand out. It would
go "pop"in wide shots of the desert.
I simply said, "I don't care what
the car is. I want a red car. "
What happened was the art director
had a casting call for trucks.
I got into a little electric cart
and motored to the back lot.
There were about seven semis
waiting for me to cast the star of Duel.
I walked up and down the trucks.
It was obvious the truck I chose...
because the Peterbilt I chose
was a little more retro.
It was an older truck.
It had a face.
The windows were the eyes
and has a huge, protruding snout.
The grill and the bumper
are the mouth. It had a face.
The other trucks on the back lot
were the flat-nosed, blunted trucks.
The ones that didn't really form
anything but a large conical cab...
where the window went
straight down to the headlights.
There's no engine sticking out in front.
The engine was probably in the back.
If you tip the cab forward, you can see
the engine behind the driver's seat.
I think that's how those trucks
worked in those days. I'm not sure.
But my eye went right to the one truck,
and I said, "You got the part. "
First of all, I didn't quite know how I
was going to achieve this in 10 days.
They were giving me 10 days
to shoot about 73 minutes of film.
With commercials, it fills out
the hour and a half...
of the ABC Movie of the Week format.
I didn't quite know
how I could do this thing in 10 days.
They assigned me a highly regarded
production manager, Wallace Worsley.
Wallace is kind of
gruff and tough.
He was a pussycat on the inside, but
on the outside was gruff and tough...
who looked at me and often
gave these derisive snorts of...
"Yeah, prove you can make this
into a movie.
Because if you can't, you're history.
We'll bring somebody in who can. "
I really respected that.
He took a hard-line position with me.
Because I said to him,
"I wanna shoot this all on location. "
He said "You cannot shoot a movie
of this scale on location in 10 days.
You need to send somebody else out
to shoot all these plates...
and do it on a soundstage
with process. "
I said, "I don't want to shoot this if
I have to go inside. It'll look fake. "
You look out all the windows of the car.
It won't be a chase.
It'll be a guy sitting on a soundstage
with bad process out the windows...
which is always out of sync
with the way the grips move the car.
The car moves this way, the process
goes that way. It never works.
Wally said, "If you spend the first half
of the first day of shooting...
shooting plates,
so we have those banked...
then if you stay on schedule
for the first three days...
then you could shoot on location,
else you gotta come back to the studio. "
I said, "Okay. "
That was the thing I had to prove,
that I could stay on schedule...
so I didn't have to go back inside
to make a real fake-looking movie.
I did stay on schedule to earn me the
right to shoot the whole film outside.
Where I did fall behind schedule
in the last three or four days...
was where Wally Worsley said...
"No one could have done
that film in 10 days. "
We wound up shooting that in 12.
Maybe 13.
I went two or three days
over schedule on that...
which made the studio not very happy,
but I was getting good stuff.
Well, I'm never gonna make
that appointment now.
In order to stay on schedule,
I couldn't just do single setups.
I knew I had to do
some multiple cameras.
But there's only so many cameras
you can put on so many mounts...
hanging off a car
before that starts looking like process.
I wanted a lot of
independent movement...
so we got Pat Hustis to bring
this camera car he invented...
and designed for the movie Bullitt.
He brought this low racing car,
insert car.
I was able to get these cool
low-angle shots of the truck and car.
And also was able to plot the shots.
So I'd put four or five cameras
on a mile stretch of road.
I'd have on one mile run of the truck
chasing the car, I'd get five run-bys.
They'd be all right to left.
Then I simply took the cameras...
took them to the other side
of the road...
which looks different than
the side of the road I was shooting.
When you go to the other side of
the road and look back the other way...
I got five more shots when the truck
and the car were turned...
to their starting positions.
That was the way I was able to quickly
shoot some of the chases in the film.
What took time was more
on the insert car.
We're getting complicated shots
moving in and out of the truck.
Pulling ahead of the truck
where the car comes in the shot.
Letting the car overtake us
and going right into the grill...
with all the dead bugs
I put into the grill of the truck.
And splattered dead bugs
across the windshield.
Things like that took the time,
but things like that created suspense.
I said, "Let's plot the entire
74-minute film...
on an overhead map,
so I can just plot my cameras. "
We did kind of like
a architect's overhead plan...
of all the highways in Pearblossom
and Soledad Canyon and Sand Canyon...
out in Palmdale
where I shot Duel.
Put all of these incidents- the
caf, the phone booth and snake farm-
all the incidents or the set pieces
along the road of the narrative...
on this big overhead map,
and it was a huge mural.
It wrapped around the entire
motel room that I was given...
to stay in for the time
I shot on location.
But I was able, every day,
to make notes on the map
and plot what the menu
was going to be to achieve that day.
The day's work that I needed
to achieve...
in order to stay on schedule
and make a really good movie.
I was able to do it from a bird's -eye
view looking straight down.
I didn't do single storyboard frames.
That would come later in my work.
But on this film, that overview
really helped me understand where I was.
When I jumped out of continuity,
I knew exactly where I was.
The truck was the antagonist.
In the story,
it had to have a personality.
It couldn't just be a sparkling new,
freshly minted truck.
The idea was to make the truck
look like a veteran...
of these road crimes.
This was "murder, incorporated"
on wheels.
There was grease on the windows
and fake dead bugs all over the grill...
and on the windscreen
and against the headlights.
The truck was painted oily
and streaked with oil...
coming out of every single possible
known vent on the truck.
The truck was put
into makeup every day.
Dennis Weaver was in his makeup chair.
The truck had seven or eight people...
with large brushes and mops,
spattering it...
and making it look
really grizzly and horrible.
It was the kind of makeup you would
do on Frankenstein or the Wolfman...
or the Phantom of the Opera.
All those license plates were the states
he drove motorists into the ground...
off cliffs,
against guard rails.
Those were the notches
in his Colt. 45.
The intention was that he was
basically a marauder in every state.
Cary, who liked to be called
"Old Vapor Lock"...
was a guy who I knew because I'm
a big fan of all the old westerns.
Cary Loftin and Dale Van Sickle,
who also worked on Duel...
were two of the most famous stuntmen
in the annals of Hollywood history.
I wanted Cary, and Cary
then suggested bringing Dale along.
Dale drove the car, and Cary drove the
truck. That was kind of the way it was.
There's no hidden piece
of antiquity about Cary Loftin...
as a background character
or standing by the roadside.
He was just the truck driver,
but he was a brilliant truck driver...
because I couldn't have
got any of these shots...
if it weren't for how safely
Cary drove that truck...
and yet made it look dangerous
and frightening and deadly.
But Cary was a very safe driver.
Actually, on certain scenes, we couldn't
get the truck to go very fast...
so I had to use tricks, like having
the camera lower to the ground.
And to create more speed from the truck,
I always put cliff walls...
on let's say
the east side of the highway.
Then I'd be in the insert car
with Pat Hustis driving...
with Jack Marta, the DP,
and the operator.
We'd be shooting toward the truck,
but always with that cliff rushing by.
As you know, you don't have to
go faster 25 miles an hour.
But if you shoot dead flat to a wall
or an obstacle moving by...
it makes the truck look like
it's going 100 miles an hour.
And the longer the lens is,
the faster the truck looks.
When I say "longer the lens is, "
anything around a 35 or a 50...
looked awfully good
in terms of speed.
If you went a little wider,
as long as you didn't show the road...
it still looked like you were going
fast if you stayed dead to the side.
So many of those shots
were shot slow...
but cheated with geography
moving by very quickly.
There's a couple shots that are sped up
because the camera lost speed.
The camera actually lost speed
and went from 24 to about 12.
I didn't have any other coverage
and I was forced to use that.
- What happened out there, mister?
- Can I use your men's room, please?
Yeah, through the door
on the right.
Down the hall, turn left.
Part of the thing when he goes into the
caf was I tried to get the audience...
to have a first-person experience
with the Dennis Weaver character.
To that end, I thought
by taking him out of the car...
and walking him through the caf
after he'd almost been killed.
He's shaking. Hejust wants to
get some water on his face.
Walking him into the bathroom
and then back into the caf.
Then walking him all the way over
to where he sits down.
He looks out the window in the same
shot. The truck is across the street.
Then he turns,
that's our first cut...
and every single person
in that caf is a suspect.
This is before the days of Steadicam,
so that was simply a handheld Aeroflex.
We had to ADR everything.
We had to Foley everything.
Because the camera was so loud,
even if you put a blanket over it...
it was still a handheld Aeroflex.
Later on, it was very effective once we
got the sounds of the camera motor...
out of the picture and got
the other Foley sounds in there.
It sounded really good.
What I learned from Hitchcock was.:
Don't let the audience off the hook.
Be a whore about keeping
the audience on tenterhooks...
as long as possible...
before giving them some clue
or some kind of relief.
If Hitchcock was ever whispering over
my shoulder during the making of Duel...
it was simply that:
Don't answer these questions...
just because ABC has airtime problems
and you've got an airdate.
Take your time and draw out
the suspense as long as possible.
I don't know. All I did was pass
this stupid rig a couple of times...
and he goes flying
off the deep end.
He has to be crazy.
In the morning, he recorded lines. We
worked with his dialogue on the Nagrit.
It's playing right back to him
from the actual Nagrit...
from that small speaker
on top of the machine.
Why didn't I leave right away
when I saw his truck outside?
Then I'd know what he intends to do.
It helped him react
to his own thoughts.
To have his voice played back was like
having the thought occur spontaneously.
He was able to use those playbacks
to be able to physicalize...
and emote what he was feeling.
Would you mind checking
those radiator hoses?
I'll do that. Take a look
at my snakes if you have time.
It was fun to take reptiles people were
afraid of and put them in the movie...
to just sort of add to the chaos...
and the anxiety of
not only was the truck against him...
but all the forces of natural law
were against this character as well.
I'd like to report a truck driver
that's been endangering my life.
- Your name again?
- David Mann.
There was no stuntman at all
in that scene. The film was shot once.
That particular angle was shot from
two different angles with two cameras.
Perhaps a third camera, a real
low shot on a highhat, on a board.
But Dennis was in the booth.
That was all Dennis.
Did it himself. And Dennis was very
insistent on driving the car...
except for certain things
where all of us ran and said...
"Dennis, you're not doing
this next shot. "
But even at one point,
Dennis goes up half a hill.
You can see out the front window,
like in a jet plane, the horizon line...
just goes like this radically,
and then recorrects.
That's Dennis driving up the shoulder
of a highway and back down again.
Dennis did a lot of his own driving.
Dennis was proud he was in that phone
booth when the truck was coming.
He had plenty of time to get out. It
was practiced and rehearsed repeatedly.
There was all sorts of fail-safe points.
There were these stakes in the ground.
And Cary Loftin had his eye on
little flags, which were off-camera...
that meant
"the point of no return. "
That meant if Cary did not
see Dennis leave the phone booth...
by the time the grill of his truck
got to that red flag...
Cary simply was going to
abort to the left.
There still would have been
a lot of clearance between the booth...
and Cary's aborted driving.
Dennis did it just at the right time.
We only did it once.
I didn't want to tempt fates
and do it a second time.
Dennis got out of the phone booth,
so the truck didn't have to abort.
It just went ahead
and plowed into the phone booth.
Why did he break my cages?
Lucille Benson,
I asked her to come back...
and do the same scene with John Belushi
from Duel in 1941.
Fill 'er up- Ethyl.
- What's the matter? Car trouble?
- Well, in a way, yes.
- I wonder if you'd do me a favor.
- What's that?
In Close Encounters
of the Third Kind...
I used the two older people
in the car from Duel.
I used those same two actors
in the helicopter in Close Encounters.
I'm a sap for nostalgia.
You know what I'm saying?
I like that. I like never forgetting,
you know, the old ties.
They had a dead man's clutch on the
truck so it would continue to roll...
with nobody in the truck
and hit the car and go off the cliff.
I'm not sure how they accomplished that.
I was busy on the cliff side...
setting seven different positions
in the best spots to put the cameras.
That was the only truck we had.
We didn't have a "take two" on that.
That was the end of the movie. There
was no reshooting after that scene.
I was very obsessed
with getting all that right...
while Cary and the physical effects
people were up topside...
getting the truck rigged to plow
into the car and go off the cliff.
I know when I saw dailies from that
scene, I used one of seven cameras...
all the way down because
the shot was so extraordinary.
There was one shot- I'm not sure
who the operator was on that...
but the operator deserves a medal-
who followed the truck and the car...
all the way down,
including into a large plume of dust.
You would assume the shot would
be over, but then the massive tanker...
part of the truck,
reemerges from that cloud...
and continues its journey
down the cliff.
It was an extraordinary shot,
and that had to be the only shot used.
I don't think I saw any dailies, 'cause
I was living out in Pearblossom...
the entire time I was shooting Duel
with the company.
There was no time to see dailies there.
We couldn't go back to see dailies.
I was just relying on lab reports
to say there was no hair in the gate...
and no negative scratches
and the film was exposed properly.
I was relying on Jack Marta to tell me
if he thought it was going to be okay.
I really relied on his expertise and his
years of wisdom of being a good DP.
But when the movie was over,
I was faced with something uglier...
than having not being able
to being able see my own rushes.
I was faced with the fact that I had
three and a half weeks to an airdate...
from the day I wrapped
the principal photography on Duel.
There was three weeks
and a couple of days...
to the time that story
was going on ABC Movie of the Week.
I couldn't just do it with one editor.
As a result,
five editors worked on Duel.
I was bicycling from editing room to
editing room for three and a half weeks.
It was an amazing time.
Each of these editors was really
talented and did great work on the show.
I remember a sequence that
one of the editors created...
that wasn't even in the script
or in the way I shot the film.
But he created a kind of tempo...
when the truck is finally bearing down
on Dennis Weaver's character.
The truck is forcing Dennis
to hit speeds of like 100 miles an hour.
There was never enough coverage. He
began stealing from other sequences...
to have enough footage
to create a faster cutting rhythm...
to culminate in this crash,
where the car goes into the wall.
You know, sort of totals itself
or totals the front end of the wall...
before the climatic
climb up the hill...
before the climatic fall
into the canyon.
He had created that scene, unbeknownst
to me he was working this way.
I came into the room, and he said,
"You wanna see something?"
I said, "Sure. "He showed me
the sequence that just blew me away.
Sound design is just a glove
that goes over the hand...
of where the camera
is positioned.
Sound fits like a glove. It has to.
It has to be a partner...
to everything you see
and everything you sense.
Sound is going to make
everything scarier.
Something wrong?
Sound's gonna make
everything more suspenseful.
A silent movie
is certainly less suspenseful...
as being able to hear
the creaks and groans...
in a haunted house of doors
and windows opening and shutting.
It was the same with Duel.
It's a haunted truck movie almost.
Here you have a guy
sleeping by the train track.
He's so exhausted,
he kind of passes out.
I put the sound of a truck into a visual
of the train coming around the corner.
So thrown way out of focus
in the background is this object...
that comes into the rear window.
You can tell it's a train. It's red.
The truck was never red.
I always said,
"I wish that train had been brown. "
It would have been a much better
cheat for the audience.
You can tell it's a train,
but I put the sound of the truck in.
You hear the truck, you hear the truck,
you hear the truck.
And suddenly- bang! It's the train
going by. Dennis wakes up with a start.
He screams.
He grabs onto the wheel.
Then the sound of the truck becomes
the sound of the diesel freight.
It passes,
and Dennis starts to laugh...
just from sheer exhaustion
and relief that he's still alive.
Joy that he's alive
and he's laughing and laughing.
Then he blithely
just moseys on his way.
The death of the truck
is a little cheaper I guess.
I was a little bit more
on the nose in those days.
I said, "This truck's like Godzilla.
Let's get a dinosaur roar in there...
when the truck turns over
and dies. "
It's the same sound I used
when the shark dies in Jaws.
I took the very same sound effect,
the same moan I had put into Duel...
when the truck is rolling over, comes
out of that cloud and continues to fall.
That's where I put
the prehistoric kind of groan.
I took that same sound effect.
It's almost like a little nostalgia.
I stuck that same sound effect
into the last scene...
where the shark blows up and the carcass
sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
That sound reoccurs there.
I put the sound at the same point
that the fin of the shark...
comes out of the cloud of blood like
the truck came out of the cloud of dirt.
It was a little of a self-congratulatory
pat on the back...
but it was also like saying, "Gee, thank
you, Duel, for putting me on the map.
Gee, thanks for
giving me a career.
And thanks for getting me started
in making movies. "
Without Duel, I wouldn't have
gotten the green light...
to make Sugarland Express
when I did.
So, one thing always helps another.
I was turning backwards in time...
having finished Jaws to say, "Thank you,
Duel, for letting me have Jaws. "
Well, it's about time, Charlie.
My God!
I see Billy Goldenberg's contribution
to Duel as being very important...
because he didn't do
a conventional score.
He used African instruments
and he had low drums.
He had kind of like tubular bells.
It was so experimental and so
courageous to have a score like that.
Especially on
an ABC Movie of the Week.
I thought Billy did one of the best
scores he had ever written for Duel.
I think he was inspired by the story
and didn't want a conventional score.
He didn't want a string section.
He didn't want horns.
He wanted it to be almost
a kind of atmospheric feeling.
He added so many layers
of creepiness with his music...
that it really brought Duel
up even further.
I have a couple of appearances
in the movie.
For one thing, I needed to be
in the car sometimes with Dennis...
so I sat in the backseat,
way over to the left.
On the television frame, I was fine.
But when the film was released overseas,
on certain 1.85 aspect ratios...
you can see part of me
sitting in the backseat.
They had to take those prints and do a
field blowup to get me out of the movie.
There were other things they couldn't
get me out. I didn't realize it.
I'm inside the phone booth, reflected
in the glass of the phone booth...
when Dennis Weaver
goes in to make the call...
to report the truck,
trying to call the police.
There I am with a script in my hand,
looking up and down...
making sure all the lines are right,
and I'm in the phone booth.
There was no coverage,
and by not seeing dailies every day...
I didn't have the luxury
of coming back the next day...
and filming it over again.
It had huge ratings then. The ratings
today would have been titanic.
Because today there are
so many other distractions...
that the four big networks
don't get the kind of ratings...
that the three big networks
used to get in the '70s.
Getting a 35, 40 share was something
you did if you were a hit show.
That wasn't extraordinary.
If you got a 60 rating for Roots,
that was extraordinary.
Today's shows are actually renewed with
ratings of 10, 12, 14. They're renewed.
Back then, if you had a 14 share,
you weren't renewed.
You were gone after two episodes.
When the market share was larger, more
people watched the three networks...
we got a huge number.
Then when the film went overseas
as a feature film...
after I went out and shot
some extra footage...
to expand it to
the legal limit of 90 minutes.
They said you couldn't release a film
overseas unless it was 90.
We were 74, so I went back
and I shot that scene of Dennis Weaver.
It's a scene I kind of made up.
I thought it would be a cool scene.
Dennis Weaver comes to a train track,
and a train is passing.
The truck suddenly pulls up,
appears behind him...
and starts to push him
into the moving freight train.
That was one of the expansion
sequences for the European release.
Duel unlocked the gateways
of the continent of Europe.
I never had been to Europe before,
and I went to Europe for the first time.
It was amazing. Nonstop flight
from New York to Rome.
Got to see the Spanish Steps,
stay at the Hassler Hotel...
and meet Federico Fellini
the next day, who had just seen Duel.
I'm very proud of a picture I have that
was taken the day after he saw Duel...
and has his arm around me
in front of the Grand Hotel.
I look like I'm as skinny as a rail.
He looks as thin as he ever looked,
and we're standing together.
We became friends
from that moment on.
And had infrequent but still contact
from that time on.
No. Please. No.
I had made a movie that was
the roadkill equivalent to High Noon.
The Europeans were reading in
all this esoteric, abstract symbolism...
about class warfare in America.
Which kind of haunted me, 'cause
when my first feature came out...
which was about cars again,
the same critic said...
that Spielberg was attenuating those
themes and carrying them even further.
I was proving their point
by making The Sugarland Express.
But that's fine.
You know what that teaches you to do?
It teaches you not to think reasonably.
It taught me to think in the abstract.
It really instructed me
not to just look at something...
and say, "Everybody is bound to see this
picture the way I see this picture.
We're gonna see the same colors,
the same sky and horizon.
We're gonna interpret this
exactly alike. "
I learned very early on that nobody ever
sees the same picture the same way.
It's impossible.
I'm probably not the best judge of how
many sides I have as a picture maker.
One film I can say- I indulged myself
in that, for me or for the audience...
that's popcorn
and that's brain food.
I don't know if I'm
the best judge of that really...
'cause I take
all of my movies seriously.
I took Raiders of the Lost Ark
seriously. I had to.
I had to believe the story
was really happening.
If I thought it was a romp
and a confection...
then the film would have been a parody
of the serials from the '50s and '40s
But I took that story very seriously.
I wanted the audience to believe...
that Indiana Jones was actually going
after the Lost Ark of the Covenant.
When that ark opened,
the power of God was within...
and was gonna wreck havoc
on the Nazis.
I believe that stuff.
I don't think you can be
a serious filmmaker...
making audience popcorn movies unless
you believe the stories you're telling.
I haven't seen Duel in a long time,
but my memory is that I was proud of it.
I look back at it, number one, saying,
"How did I get those shots in 13 days?
How was that possible?" To this day,
I don't think I could do it again.
If I had to go back right now
and re-create Duel...
in 12, 13 days,
I couldn't do it, be impossible.
I think I was so hungry back then.
I was so ambitious.
I was so excited about
having been given this chance.
I was so thankful to the studio...
especially George Eckstein and Wally
Worsley for supporting me in this.
I even use Wally Worsley.
He came in and did E. T. with me.
I look back at it and say,
"I couldn't do it that way again today.
I'm probably too smart
to have done it that way again. "
Which means a lot of the spontaneity
would be left out.
I would be the Europeans
analyzing Duel...
and putting all those different levels
of interpretation into it now.
I think I'd be too headstrong
about telling that story again.
Sometimes you have to look back
and say, "Those early films...
are a mark and a measure
of who I was back then. "
I'm not the same person today
as I was back then.
I always have held
that nobody's the same person.
Once you grow up
and have children and a family...
and learn more about
the world you live in.
You make new friends
and lose some old friends. You change.
I could never go back and make those
early films as well as I made them...
when I was of the appropriate age
and naivety...
to be working
on subjects like that.
But also I couldn't have made
Schindler's List or Private Ryan...
when I was 22, 23 years old either.
It's a fair trade-off.