The Exec is proud to present A Cinematic Running Guide. We break down all the elements required to make sure the running in your film is up to speed. A Cinematic Running Guide is presented in proud association with NIKE. NIKE, just fucking do it already.

A Cinematic Running Guide, Nay A History

Since the burgeoning cinema at the start of the 20th Century, film makers have captured running in all its forms. From Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, men, women and children have run on screen. Sometimes towards the camera, sometimes away and sometimes they even ran across the shot. Cinema audiences around the world have been thrilled in whichever direction people could run in films.


With the introduction of sound, running in movies became an even more immersive experience. Hollywood film makers such as Hitchcock used it to great effect in action sequences. Take North By Northwest, Hitchcock uses running towards camera AND away from a fucking plane to create an iconic scene. Without running, this scene would have been dog shit.

It’s All About The Running

Take Tony Richardson’s run-fest, The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner. It came just three years after North By Northwest, but already running is in the title and features heavily as a plot device and arty-farty metaphor. Ok Tony, you went to Oxford, we get it already, jeez!

But Where’s The Chariot?

Fast forward to the early 80s and running is now the entire narrative in Hugh Hudson’s Oscar winning Chariots Of Fire. But audiences were left confused because there were no chariots to be seen anywhere. What’s wrong with these crazy Brits?

Blockbuster Running

With boxing underdog movie Rocky, Sylvester Stallone took running to new, heroic heights. Sly continued to fly the flag for heroic running (mainly toward camera but away from the exploding whatever) in films as diverse as First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II and the inexplicably titled Rambo III. There was no Rambo II. What the fuck Sly?

Nice Try Arnie

Other blockbuster action stars tried to get in on the running, but with less success. Arnold Schwarzenegger tried with a bit of running in Conan The Barbarian. But this was mainly across the shot, which was proven to be the least effective. He even tried using running in one of his titles, The Running Man. But all anyone remembers about that film is how piss poor Mic Fleetwood was in it. I’ll be back? Nah, you’re ok man. Stay where you are.

The Running King

And now we come to the undisputed king of running in movies: Tom Cruise. Cruise tried his hand at ‘acting’ in films such as The Color Of Money, Rain Man and Born On The Fourth Of July. But he found his little running feet in The Firm. Here, Cruise discovered he could thrill audiences the world over just by sprinting towards the camera and away from scary, cuddly uncle Wilford Brimley. But he really got up to pace three years later with Brian De Palma’s Mission Impossible. The legendary scene where Tom leaps away from exploding chewing gum on a fish tank is an all time running classic. The invention and the daring to not only run toward the camera and away from the water, but in slow-mo and then under the camera is ground-breaking. I mean… shit the bed shivers up my spine.

Running The Show

Since then, Cruise has gone from strength to strength. He can run on sand, on roads, rooves, through windows and even under water. He continues to thrill and astound audiences with his running. Hardly anyone has noticed he really can’t act. And he owes it all to running. Go figure.


HOLLYWOOD – Kristen Stewart expressed perplexity at her birthday gift.

Twilight and Personal Shopper star Kristen Stewart today responded with perplexity at receiving a bucket of pencils for her 31st birthday.

Talking EXCLUSIVELY to the Studio Exec, she said:

I mean, I don’t want to be ungrateful, but pencils? And in a bucket? It doesn’t feel like the most uhm…


Yeah, I guess. Appropriate gift to be giving a thirty one year old woman. I mean uhm… what?

Maybe it’s because you are creative. Artistic like.

Uhm. Okay? I guess. But err… why in a bucket? I mean the way champagne comes in a bucket, okay that I understand. But why put pencils in a bucket?

It makes them easier to carry around. 

I suppose so. So you think I just walk around with a bucket full of colored pencils so I can do um … drawings I guess?

Or coloring in.

Coloring in. Yeah. I guess, er … that makes a bit more sense.

We kept the receipt.

You did? Oh! Wow. I don’t suppose… I mean I don’t want to seem ungrateful or anything like that. But you know I can think of something else that I need.

Oh right. What?

There are these erasers that are shaped like hamburgers and they smell like them too. They’re um … neat.

Kristen Stewart will appear in Spenser soon.



HOLLYWOOD – Paul Rudd is to play Steve Guttenberg in a new biopic of the actor made famous by Cocoon, Three Men and a Baby and Police Academy.

The new Ant-Man, Paul Rudd, spoke with the Studio Exec EXCLUSIVELY about the project:

Steve Guttenberg was my inspiration growing up and I would never have thought to have challenged the role if it wasn’t for the fact that the script was out of this world and Alejandro González Iñárritu is a director I greatly admire.

Based on Iñárritu’s own script the film – provisionally entitled Guttenberg – focuses on a late moment in Steve Guttenberg’s career. Rudd explains:

This is not a classical biopic which sweeps from childhood through early struggles and success to inevitable decline. Instead we find Steve at a later part of his career. The heady days of the Eighties are over and the nineties have been dry, but Steve is preparing his directorial debut P.S. Your Cat Is Dead. Alejandro sees the film as a companion to Birdman, continuing his obsession with stars of the 80s and 90s, seeking to make artistic statements.

Did you see the original film?

Yes. It should be a lot better known. It’s really good. We want to make people realize that the guy from Short Circuit was an accomplished actor and director and not think of him as simply a possible cloned threat from China.

A what?

  There’s talk that China have 3D printed an army of Guttenbergs.

Good God!


Guttenberg Will be released in 2023.

The Orson Welles Diaries VII

January 27th, 1972.

I’m staying with Peter Bogdanovich and his delightful mistress, Cybil Shepherd. Yesterday evening, whilst dining on a superb plate of grouse, I felt a foot under the dinner table pawing up my leg and making an inexorable motion towards my crotch. Sitting opposite the delightful couple I was unsure as to whom the foot belonged to. Naturally I hoped it was Cybil and she was merely mischievously flirting with me but from the look of lust in his eyes, I became convinced that it was Peter currently teasing my scrotum with his big toe.

After a couple of minutes of uninvited but not entirely unpleasant nut nuzzling, I decided to take a sly peek under the table in order to fathom exactly who was probing my generous plums, when to my horror, I discovered the actor Dennis Hopper, clearly inebriated and lying on his back with his right bare foot undulating up and down my undercarriage.

When I questioned Peter as to how Hopper had come to be under table, he explained that Dennis had attended his New Years Eve party and knowing the man usually took around a month to recover from whatever grotesque cocktail of liquor and narcotics he was currently consuming, they simply left him under the table until he was conscious enough to leave.

Amused by this tale I laughed and returned to the Grouse but suddenly, I was struck by a notion. If Hopper had been there for 27 days, perhaps it wasn’t Cybil administering fellatio to me under the table during breakfast last Thursday.

I had three doughnuts and five scoops of butterscotch ice-cream after dinner, followed by dessert.


HOLLYWOOD – Police arrest Django Unchained star Leonardo DiCaprio on suspicion of being a prostitute.

The film star and owner of one of the world’s five oceans Leonardo DiCaprio was sitting in a parked car kissing a lady friend. But then police officers spotted him and arrested him. The arresting officer said that the arrest showed solid police work:
We didn’t know it was big movie star Leonardo DiCaprio at the time, but when we realized we were doubly pleased we had got him. DiCaprio has been a menace. This is a family neighborhood and Mr. DiCaprio has been seen more than once standing on the street corner and soliciting passing cars, wearing provocative clothes and even making obscene gestures and invitations in a curvy language which leaves very little to the imagination. One would think he earned enough money from all those flicks he’s made.
A lawyer for the star however pleaded mitigating circumstances:
Ever since What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Mr. DiCaprio has been very honest about his proclivities. This is a case of victimization of a sick man by a police force eager to grab headlines and distract people from its more unsavory reputation. My client is seeking counselling but would also like to point out in terms of his economic position – which on the surface would seem to preclude such sex-barter – that since buying an ocean he has been a bit strapped for cash.
Other Hollywood male prostitutes were quick to leap to DiCaprio’s defense. John Cusack said:
People see us and they think, we’re white, we’re rich, what are we doing? But they don’t understand how hard it can be to make a living in this town. And frankly if the choice is turning tricks or making Hot Tub Time Machine 2, I know which of them is the less degrading option.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is available.



I used to watch this with my father. It’s a harrowing story about a beautiful Queen that is murdered by seven small peasants and a common slut. When I was a girl I often dressed up as the Queen and my father would hire children from the local village and we’d put on a show for him. Of course in my version the Queen enslaved the dwarfs in her dungeon and murdered Snow White. But after several performances the villagers started complaining about their ‘missing children’ so I had to hang up my costume.


I must have seen this movie a hundred times and it’s been a huge influence on my life. It made me realise that if you’re rich and powerful you can buy anybody and make them fall in love with you.
Richard Gere is so handsome and Jeffrey really reminded me of him. Some nights we’d role-play and I’d dress up as Vivian and he’d put on a tuxedo and be Edward. I found it very erotic pretending to be this cheap woman who would do anything to please a wealthy business man. It showed me that if you buy working class girls a nice handbag or a piece of jewellery, they will happily fulfil any degrading, sexual fantasy you might have.


I have a love/hate relationship with this movie. I love it because it reminds me of all of the great parties I used to go to. They were always way out in the countryside in a manor house or stately home. Everyone would dress up in masks and you’d spend the evening guessing if the man in the devil mask in the corner was Bill Clinton or Prince Andrew or another elite guest. The events were very decadent, sexually free and the human sacrifice ceremonies had a real sense of theatre. Unfortunately when this movie came out and Kubrick betrayed us by exposing the parties to the general public, people started to get a bit nervous and the gatherings became smaller, less lavish and rather than travel 30 minutes outside of the city you had to get a private plane to a private island so it was much more hassle.


Inspired by this wonderful movie I have a large poster of Woody Allen on my cell wall and I’m currently digging a tunnel behind it with a silver spoon. Hopefully I’ll manage to escape soon and I’ll be drinking cocktails in the penthouse of the Trump International by Christmas. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a man in dark glasses here to see me and it looks like he’s carrying a noose made out of ripped up bedsheets. I wonder what he wants?


HOLLYWOOD – Jeff Goldblum – star of Jurassic Park and The Fly – showed off a new tattoo earlier today… of himself!

The 61 year old actor and jazz musician Jeff Goldblum said that he’d always wanted to get a tattoo of himself ever since he was a struggling theatre actor over forty years ago.

People told me not to do it because if I ever had to do a nude scene, or even take my shirt off it would be distracting. And that was true when David Cronenberg got me to strip for The Fly he said straight away ‘Thank God you don’t have a tattoo of yourself. That would be really distracting!’ So I was lucky I hadn’t done it, but nowadays no one wants me to take my shirt off so I figure I’m safe. Unless maybe Wes Anderson asks me but in that case he’ll love it. He’ll think it’s quirky.

The reception to the news was predictably explosive with some calling for Goldblum to resign from whatever it is he actually does.

I’ve always been a controversial figure. I uhm tend to provoke a reaction wherever I go. Uhm, you see, I have so much … I guess you’d call it personality. I have a lot of that. When it came uhm to chooooosing a tattoo, my wife, Emily, said, hey! Why not get one of yourself? And as ever she was right. I remembered my dream and here we are. 

Jeff Goldblum is currently appearing.


The Studio Exec sat down with the legendary Al Pacino to discuss life, love and shouting very loudly.


Hello, Mr Pacino. Thanks for coming.

You couldn’t get De Niro, huh?


Excuse me?

Bobby De Niro turned you down so you’re interviewing me instead.


No, we never reached out to De Niro.

It’s always the f*cking same. All my life.


Honestly and from the bottom of my heart, I wanted to interview you.




Great, let’s get down to it.


Excellent. Okay. First question. What was it like working with Robert De Niro in Heat?

F*ck you.


F*ck me?

Yeah, f*ck you. Next question.


Fine. Of all the movies you’ve made I think my favourite has to be ‘Righteous Kill’. What was it like working with Robert De Niro?

You say that name one more time and I’m walking out of here.


What, Righteous Kill?

You know the f*cking name. You know.


Okay, I’ve got the message. Let’s move on. You worked with Joe Pesci in The Irishman.

Great actor. A giant.


When you were on set, did you ask him what it was like to work with De Niro in Raging Bull?



How about Goodfellas?



Actually, Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest living actor.



He’s still alive, though.



Okay, okay. I apologise. No more De Niro talk. Let’s move on and talk about your excellent documentary ‘Looking for Richard.’

Oh. Alright. FINALLY. Well I’ve always been enamoured by the character of Richard III and making the doc was just a labour of love.



Sure? Is that all you have to say, sure?


Well I was just thinking, Robert De Niro would make an excellent Richard III.



The Studio Exec sat down with the legendary Warren Beatty to discuss acting, politics and if he really did have sex with Richard Pryor.


Hello, Mr Beatty. Thanks for coming.

My pleasure.


I know it was a long time ago but can you tell me about how you prepared for the infamous ‘ Squeal like a pig’ scene in ‘Deliverance’?

I wasn’t in ‘Deliverance’. That was Ned Beatty.


Really? Is he a relation of yours?



Okay. Moving on. The film ‘Network’ often features on critic’s favourite movie lists. What are your memories of making that picture?

I wasn’t in Network.


Surely you played the character that delivered the great “You have meddled with the primal forces of nature”, speech?

No, that was Ned Beatty.


I see…okay, I’ve got it. Your character Josef Locke in the beautiful ‘Hear My Song’ was…

Ned Beatty.


Mmm…it seems there’s been some research errors. What movies have you been in?

Bonnie and Clyde.


Of course! A very memorable performance from Faye Dunaway. Any others?

McCabe and Mrs Miller.


I think I got half an hour in and fell asleep.



I’ve heard it’s very long so I’ve never bothered. These are all fine but quite niche movies. Have you been in anything our audience might know?

Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait, The Parallax View?


Anything in the last 40 years?

Fine, I was in Dick Tracy.


Of course you were in Dick Tracy! It had completely slipped my mind.

It’s okay.


Who did you play in Dick Tracy?

Dick Tracy.


Yes, Dick Tracy.

I played Dick Tracy in Dick Tracy.


Did you? Wow. I only saw it once and that was about 30 years ago.

Do you even know who the f*ck I am?


Sure. Moving on. You’ve been in a lot of obscure films but very few really great ones. How come you’re famous?

Because I’m Warren Fucking Beatty that’s why I’m so famous. Brilliant actor, genius director, legendary lover.


Legendary lover? Who have you slept with?



Goldie Hawn?



Meryl Streep?



How about Richard Pryor?

EVERY…actually, no.


Marlon Brando did.

Really? Jesus.


I know. I mean it’s fine to sleep with whoever you want but the thought of Marlon Brando being ground in the arse by Richard Pryor. I don’t know, It’s just difficult to process that picture.



Indeed. Unfortunately it looks like we’ve run out of time. Sorry we never got around to talking about your performance in ‘The Wild Bunch’ but Warren Oates, it’s been a pleasure.




The rumours swirled before the internet became a thing. How these rumours spread before we all plugged in must have been a combination of hints in the gossip columns, celebrity magazine subheadings and some comedian on some program cracking a sly joke. 

I can’t remember a time before Tom Cruise. I’m at that age of him always being around. There was a time when girls and boys at my school had posters of him on their wall. He was young, hot, talented and Top Gun gave a man that was already flying jet propelled wings. 

By the age of 26, Cruise had already worked with Coppola, Ridley Scott and Scorsese on The Outsiders, Legend and The Color Money but even then he was almost too young and pretty to be regarded as an actor with chops. It was Rain Man when he came of age and proved to the world he had hair on his nuts. Hoffman took the awards but go back and watch Cruise at work and he’ll knock your socks off. 

Born on the Fourth of July came next. He suffers, sightly, for being a bit too youthful looking for the role. Like DiCaprio in Gangs of New York all the pieces are there but you know they haven’t grown the beard they’re wearing. That aside, he turns in a cracking performance which would have almost certainly snagged him the Oscar, If Daniel Day-Lewis didn’t grab it with his left foot that year.

Between 1989 and 2000, he never made a bad movie. Days of Thunder is often mislabelled ‘Top Gun on a Racetrack’ and it might not be Shakespeare but it’s solid Hollywood thrills. The much maligned Far and Away, which is one of those flicks everyone loves but critics always sh*t on.  When they plants that flag in the ground at the end of that film it never fails to rouse my inner romantic.

A Few Good Men did the business, The Firm is one of those solid thrillers you can rewatch a hundred times. There was a lot of noise about him being miscast as Lestat in Interview With a Vampire but now it’s difficult to imagine anyone else in the role. The first Mission Impossible with De Palma is still the best of the series and Jerry Maguire is Jerry Maguire. 

That’s not a bad run and although many will argue Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut derailed the train that’s hogwash. For me, it’s the best he’s ever been to date and his tortured and curious Doctor Hartford is the one he should be given more credit for. Then again, I think his follow up role as Frank T.J. Mackey in Magnolia was a little overrated. Still very good, but off the back of the disappointment of Eyes Wide the media treated it as a revelatory comeback as if they were amazed he was capable of such a performance. Of course he was, they just forgot or didn’t know. 

He’s made few movies you could call outright trash but Mission Impossible 2, especially compared to the others, is a hot mess. Dishonourable mentions for Knight and Day, Oblivion and The Mummy and that takes care of the stinkers but even some of those are not irredeemable and the only one that failed to entertain me even slightly was Oblivion. Absolute nonsense. 

Looking back his last performance of any real weight was Valkyrie in 2008 and since then he’s seemingly stepped back from the award baiting performances but they will come around again. When he can no longer hang off skyscrapers and if he decides to age gracefully his best work could be ahead of him. 

Anyway, I digressed. So the ‘Tom Cruise is Gay’ rumours. Who gives a f*ck if he is or he isn’t. We’re naturally curious about the lives of others, especially celebrities, but so far no scientist has proven that enjoying a man’s lips wrapped around your cock affects your ability to act so until that merry day happens and a paper is published, his private life is inconsequential and I’ll put his dealings with Scientology under that same umbrella. Sure, I might think the religion is bananas and it might transpire that more of the wicked rumours surrounding it prove to be true. If it turns out he had knowledge or participated in any misdeeds, in this modern trial by social media world some revelations might be difficult to come back from, even for someone who wields the kind of power Cruise does.

But again, until that day falls what he gets up too behind closed doors is none of our business. We all know that, though. We just find it hard to resist scurrilous rumours and sensational headlines. It doesn’t make us bad people, it just highlights our lack of desire and effort to be better people.




LOS ANGELES – Ant Man Paul Rudd has become the latest in a long line of stars to declare their deep and abiding religious belief in the Prince of Darkness, Satan.

‘Hollywood can be a crazy place and being an actor can be a stressful occupation,’ the Ant Man and the Wasp star said smiling affably. ‘I find worshipping Satan brings me inner peace and centres me.’

Rudd’s conversion marks only the latest Hollywood star – Selena Gomez and Christian Slater have also recently declared themselves Satanists – in what is quickly becoming what many are calling the ‘New Scientology’. A new high tech and air conditioned Center for the Promotion of Beelzebub  has opened off Sunset Boulevard, where new celebrity devotees can gather and practice their various Black Masses and rituals.

Paul Rudd speaking from his Hollywood home said:

People think that it’s all worshiping upside down crucifixes, sacrificing babies and desecrating churches. Well I’ve never seen an upside down crucifix, but two out of three ain’t bad, ha ha ha!

Tom Cruise angrily responded to the claims that Satanism had now overtaken Scientology as the new nut-bag spiritual fad.

These people are weak minded and they’re being taken in by charlatans who are basically inventing a lot of gobbledegook that people like Ruddy are just swallowing whole. The main problem is it’s cheaper than Scientology.

Bishop Humbert Humbert of the Roman Catholic church however welcomed the surge in commitment:

What we should focus on here is the fact that these people believe in the same beings we believe in. We’ve been fighting against the wave of Godless atheism, so I frankly welcome Satanists as on our team. I’d rather have a Rudd than a Dawkins any day of the week.

What do you think? Are you a Satanist? Has anyone got video evidence of Paul Rudd eating a baby? Please post comments letting us know your thoughts.


HOLLYWOOD – Top insurance firm have insured Benedict Cumberbatch’s feet for £50.

Sherlock and Doctor Strange actor Benedict Cumberbatch is a man of many talents. But perhaps his most widely appreciated are his feet. So much so that the actor has taken out an insurance policy with Dombey and Co Insurers to the tune of £50. We talked to Mr. Karol Dombey himself about his most famous client.

We didn’t actually know who Mr. Cumberbatch was until last Wednesday when he turned up to our offices in flip flops. When he told us he wanted his feet insured, we understood that they are apparently one of his most valuable assets.

How so?

Well, to begin with, the feet support the rest of his alabaster body and maintain its upright position which many find endearing.

And so if anything happens to his feet…?

Then we will compensate him to the tune of £50.

What if something happens to just one foot?

Then it will be £25 a foot. £50 for the set.

Does this cover just accidents or also ailments?


Like athlete’s foot for instance. Or an ingrowing toenail.

No. That doesn’t sound serious enough. We’re more thinking of a scything accident or a landmine. In fact both those eventualities were very specifically laid out in the policy. But athlete’s foot? I mean what’s that? It’s just itchy isn’t it? You can’t insure itchiness!

Why are his feet so valuable?

It’s a sex thing. Obvs. People look at his feet and they feel all weird. Sick and happy at the same time. Like you’ve been tickled too much.

But £50 doesn’t sound that much. I mean, he’s worth millions. 

Maybe not to you, but I’m sure you haven’t factored in the money he’d save on shoes should he lose his feet. So overall he’d be well off, should anything happen. We’re not talking penises here, after all.

I suppose not.

You suppose not.

Patrick Melrose is currently on television.


MOSCOW – Intelligent sources accuse the Russian government of weaponizing Matrix Reloaded.

For years the second Matrix film – Matrix Reloaded – was just a bad memory but now it seems that the Russian secret service have succeeded in weaponizing the film. An NSA source spoke with the Studio Exec EXCLUSIVELY:

What has happened is in some of the darker reaches of the Russian spy agency, Matrix Reloaded has been turned into a weapon. The nerve agent is reverse engineered from the feeling the biggest Matrix fan got when sitting in the cinema for the first forty minutes of Matrix Reloaded. That feeling of excitement and enthusiasm gradually curdling into a a sense of having ashes in your mouth and a lump of mould where your heart used to be has been isolated and can now be reproduced chemically.

Jesus Christ.

I know. They’ve been trying something similar in North Korea with Attack of the Clones, but people already knew what to expect. And phantom Menace doesn’t quite work because there was always the Duel of the Fates music and the Pod Race to latch onto.

Is there a danger that the Russians might launch an attack?

There’s a very really possibility that they already did in 2017. Don’t you remember how you just felt joyless all the time?

I guess.

And for some reason couldn’t stop thinking about how Laurence Fishburne has put on a lot of weight?

Good God!

You see?

Matrix Reloaded will be buried in a vault in a deep deep mountain.


HOLLYWOOD – SpielBlog is a soup to nuts film by film rundown of Steven Spielberg’s film career.

TV movies come with their own constraints. The budget is low; the schedule tight and the ambition narrow. Steven Spielberg got his shot with a Richard Matheson script based on his own experience driving home from a golf game the day JFK was shot. But Duel broke through a ten day shoot and the threat of Gregory Peck – whose casting would have seen Spielberg booted – to become one of the best TV movies ever made.
Duel starts with the car’s POV as we drive through a city towards the freeway. On the radio a comedian (Dick Whittington) prank calls the census. He’s bothered because although he’s the man of the house he doesn’t think he’s the head of house and he doesn’t know what to put. Right from the get go with have this idea of male insecurity, anxiety that the thin veneer that makes up civilisation and enables a weakling to live in apparent safety is a vaporous illusion. ​
The allegorically-named David Mann (Dennis Weaver) is the perfect foil. A familiar TV face, Weaver’s one notable film credit was a ludicrously over the top motel janitor in Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil. Everything about him is unattractive: his stupid sunglasses with lenses the colour of urine, his sub-Burt Reynolds mustache and his whiny voice-over voice. His wife complains about him not standing up to another man at a party who was ‘practically raping’ her. He suspects the mechanic of trying to con him with talk of a new radiator hose. His appointment is with a man who has to leave for Hawaii. You suspect David is never going to Hawaii.


The 1955 Peterbilt Truck that will terrify Mann and chase him across the mountains and through the desert is everything that he is not. It’s dirty, where Mann dabs at his neat mustache with a napkin, spewing foul smoke. It’s assertive where Mann is deferential. It seeks conflict. It’s industrial and working class compared to Mann’s office stiff wardrobe and monogrammed briefcase. And whereas Mann is the embodiment of male anxiety, the Peterbilt is basically a large cock on ten wheels, loaded with the number plates of previous victims.

The conflict escalates with a black sense of humour. What is apparently a misunderstanding and then vindictiveness, slowly escalates into a deadly hunt. The relative sizes of the car and the truck, the speeds and the road are expertly conveyed. This is Mad Max level brilliance and yet was filmed in 13 days (three days over schedule) and on location against the wishes of a studio who wanted the whole thing done on a sound stage with back projections.

Along the way Mann meets up with a variety of grotesques who show for the first time Spielberg’s vision of a banally-indifferent-when-not-actually-corrupt America. These are the same people who will want to keep the beaches open because it’s the Fourth of July weekend. Mann’s stop at a roadside eatery is full of menace. Any of these people could be guilty and Mann hasn’t the confidence to just say to the room “Hey, who’s driving that rig out there?” Of course, he picks on the wrong guy – mostly every decision Mann makes is frustratingly obviously wrong. Mann takes plot-convenience naps and seems blissfully unaware until the last second that a massive truck is heading for his phone box. Weaver’s performance is obviously what Spielberg wanted – he was a huge fan of Touch of Evil – but you can’t help but wonder what Richard Dreyfuss would have done with the part.

Just how much the world is in sympathy with the truck and out of sympathy with Mann is hit home again and again. From the clientele of the truck stop to the school bus driver, everyone seems to distrust Mann and be indifferent to the Peterbilt. The funniest example of this is the woman with the rattlesnake ranch right next to the phone box – ‘What a weird place to keep snakes!’ Mann exclaims. (By the way look in the reflection of the phone box and you can see Steven Spielberg standing beside the cameraman and watching the scene. Charitably we could say this is his Hitchcockian cameo for what is essentially a Hitchcockian thriller, something the score is relentless in pointing out.)

Stripped of all help and isolated, Mann must face the truck alone. The final showdown is expertly conveyed. Shot from multiple angles with seven cameras, Spielberg ended up only using the one shot in slow motion for the climactic crash and cliff dive. It is this kind of decisive restraint that marks him out as a director of genuine vision, even so early on. The way we have read ‘Inflammable’ on the back of the truck all this time, but then it doesn’t explode when it goes over the cliff. This is 1971 so endings always have to have a hint of the ambiguous rather than the audience pleasing catharsis.

Duel got good ratings and reviews as TV Movie of the Week and ultimately some re-shoots to make it feature length. Spielberg used it as his calling card, touring it round festivals in Europe. It was a TV movie that looked like it should be on the big screen. And that was exactly where Steven Spielberg was heading.

SpielBlog is also published here and will continue next week.