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Spielberg's cinematography for the police chase was praised by reviewers, and The Hollywood Reporter stated that "a major new director is on the horizon." However, the film fared poorly at the box office and received a limited release. Zanuck and David Brown offered Spielberg the director's chair for Jaws, a thriller-horror film based on the Peter Benchley novel about an enormous killer shark.
Spielberg has often referred to the gruelling shoot as his professional crucible.
The first was a Richard Matheson adaptation called Duel.
The film is about a psychotic Peterbilt 281 tanker truck driver who chases the terrified driver (Dennis Weaver) of a small Plymouth Valiant and tries to run him off the road.
Hollywood doesn't always recognize talent, but Steven's was not going to be overlooked. The episode is unusual in his body of work, in that the camerawork is more highly stylized than his later, more "mature" films. D., Spielberg got his first feature-length assignment: an episode of The Name of the Game called "L. He did another segment on Night Gallery and did some work for shows such as Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law and The Psychiatrist, before landing the first series episode of Columbo (previous episodes were actually TV films).
Based on the strength of his work, Universal signed Spielberg to do four TV films.
In 1963, at age sixteen, Spielberg wrote and directed his first independent film, a 140-minute science fiction adventure called Firelight, which would later inspire Close Encounters.
Another TV film (Something Evil) was made and released to capitalize on the popularity of The Exorcist, then a major best-selling book which had not yet been released as a film.
Next, Spielberg teamed with Star Wars creator and friend George Lucas on an action adventure film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first of the Indiana Jones films.
The archaeologist and adventurer hero Indiana Jones was played by Harrison Ford (whom Lucas had previously cast in his Star Wars films as Han Solo).
Despite the film's ultimate, enormous success, it was nearly shut down due to delays and budget over-runs. It was an enormous hit, winning three Academy Awards (for editing, original score and sound) and grossing more than 0 million worldwide at the box office.
It also set the domestic record for box office gross, leading to what the press described as "Jawsmania." King Kong and Superman, Spielberg and actor Richard Dreyfuss re-convened to work on a film about UFOs, which became Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).