Universal TV,

Dennis Weaver, Eddie Firestone, Gene Dynarski, Jacqueline Scott, Lou Frizzell

David Mann (Dennis Weaver) is out in the middle of nowhere, running late for an appointment, and trying to make good time. Naturally a big rig is in front of him, slowing him down, and making him later. He tries to pass, but every time he tries, the trucker cuts him off. Finally David is able to pass him, but it may be the biggest mistake of his life, as this maniac driver starts following him in a really dangerous game of cat and mouse. With no way to shake this guy, David has to drive for his life to avoid this guy whose motives are unknown. Is he just insane, or does he really want to kill David for sure?

This was a made-for-tv film from all the way back in 1971, but it’s out on DVD, and available for the public. It was done back in the day before cable ruled the world and there were a thousand channels to choose from. In those days, made-for-tv movies were sometimes really good. There were a number of thrillers like this, but this is a good as any I’ve ever seen. A young, barely known director named Stephen Spielberg directed this, and when it was shown, the studio execs stood up and took notice. Supposedly this is his first film, and a great showcase. The suspense is hair-raising, and it’s certainly an edge of your seat experience all the way from start to the end credits. The creepy thing is that this could happen. When we’re on a long distance trip, we have no idea of the face or mind behind the wheel of car in front of, or behind us, and we put our lives in their hands. I remember a case in California where a big rig driver just snapped from all the bumper to bumper LA traffic and just went nuts, smashing cars for miles and miles along several big LA freeways. We’ve all seen the nutcases out there, but this one is much more sinister. We’re not sure if this guy is just really having a terrible day, or if he’s really out for this guy for some reason we’ll never understand.

The tension in this film is gut wrenching, and it’s really a roller-coaster ride. The quality is fair, because it is made for TV after all, but that doesn’t matter a bit, as it’s all desert roads, a car and a big rig, and lots of endless scenery. There is an abundance of driving noises, and very, very little dialog. Mostly it’s narration by Dennis Weaver of the thoughts in David’s mind as he tries to figure out why this is happening and what he can do about it. He’s very clever, and comes up with a lot of ideas, but this driver is persistent. The ending is unexpected, and very dramatic, but does little to satisfy us as to the why of it all. It’s a good movie, and an excellent movie compared to other DVD movies. From time to time, I like to find these little hidden gems that you haven’t even heard of before, and this is one that is definitely worth watching out for. The scary thing about this is that it could happen to any of us, anytime. Whew!

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog



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