Driving down a deserted Southern California highway at a safe and sane 55 miles per hour, David Mann (Dennis Weaver) steps on the pedal to pass a large gas trailer truck. Moments later, the truck is back, dangerously tailgating Mann before abruptly cutting him off. For the next 90 minutes, Mann and the never-seen truckdriver are pitted against one another in a motorized duel to the death. Author Richard Matheson conceived Duel after a similar experience with a reckless trucker. The story first appeared in Playboy magazine, then was picked up for adaptation by the producers of The ABC Movie of the Week. The director chosen to helm Duel on location in Soledad Canyon was a bright 23-year-old who'd shown promise on such series as Night Gallery and Columbo: Steven Spielberg. First telecast on December 18, 1971, Duel was so popular that a somewhat longer version (with added violence and profanity) was prepared for theatrical release in 1983.