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The Sugarland Express (1974)

PG | | Crime, Drama | 5 April 1974 (USA)
A woman attempts to reunite her family by helping her husband escape prison and together kidnapping their son. But things don't go as planned when they are forced to take a police hostage on the road.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »

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1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Capt. Harlan Tanner
Michael Sacks ...
Officer Maxwell Slide
...
Clovis Michael Poplin
...
Mashburn
...
Officer Ernie Jessup
Louise Latham ...
Mrs. Looby
Harrison Zanuck ...
Baby Langston
A.L. Camp ...
Mr. Alvin T. Nocker
Jessie Lee Fulton ...
Mrs. Nocker
...
Russ Berry
Ted Grossman ...
Dietz
Bill Thurman ...
Hunter
Kenneth Hudgins ...
Standby #1
Buster Daniels ...
Buster Daniels - Drunk (as Buster Danials)
Edit

Storyline

Lou-Jean, a blonde woman, tells her husband, who is imprisoned, to escape. They plan to kidnap their own child, who was placed with foster parents. The escape is partly successful, they take a hostage, who is a policeman and are pursued through to Texas... Written by Kornel Osvart <kornelo@alphanet.hu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A girl with a great following. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 April 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Carte Blanche  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Texas landscape was so flat that Steven Spielberg had to place his camera above the road and use a long lens to get more than seven or eight cars within the frame. See more »

Goofs

The "Texas" of this film is a figment of the filmmakers' imagination. The trip from just outside Houston to Sugar Land takes two days, and Sugar Land is a few miles from the Mexican border. In fact, Sugar Land is a municipality southwest of Houston, not much more than an hour from anywhere in the Houston metro area. And Houston is on the Texas Gulf Coast, two days' drive from the border. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Nocker: You got me out here with no where to sit.
Mr. Alvin T. Nocker: Why don't you sit on your fist and lean back on your thumb.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Wanderlust (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

The Eyes of Texas
(uncredited)
Traditional
[Played by marching band when the car enters Rodrigues, Texas]
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Early Spielberg is just as fun as any Spielberg
8 August 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There's something so incredibly fascinating about watching the humble beginnings of a director as renowned as Stephen Spielberg. The Sugarland Express is one of his earliest films and it is not of the calibre of films like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the Indiana Jones franchise, but it still remarkably entertaining. It tells the story of two lovers who go on a mad run from the law in order to kidnap their son from his foster parents. Lou-Jean, played by Goldie Hawn, breaks her husband, Clovis, out of jail in order to do so and this sparks mad paranoia in the two. The run from the law doesn't occur until the two kidnap a policeman and his vehicle, forcing him to drive them to Sugarland, Texas in order to find their baby boy. This is a wild, exciting, often hilarious film, and to top it all off it's based on a true story.

I think what defines this film more than anything is the distinct new Spielberg smell. It has all of the things we recognize from the bigger Spielberg films, just on a much smaller scale. The dialogue flows so naturally and fits right in with the action and camera work of the film. There are lots of familiar camera techniques in the film, especially the fluid camera movement that goes on within the confines of the police vehicle, where a lot of the film takes place. Nothing is as grand and widespread as Spielberg's classics, but anyone who respects the genius can respect this film for what it is because, like it or not, this is where it all began.

But not only is The Sugarland Express a fascinating look into how Spielberg got his start, it is also just an incredibly fun film. Goldie Hawn plays the border line psychopath mother perfectly. She wants nothing more than to see her baby boy again, and she won't let anything stop her. The film hits both ends of the spectrum very nicely. A lot of it is very comedic, ranging from cleverly hilarious to downright goofy at times. Yet there are also moments of sincere dramatic tension. Through all of the offbeat wackiness, the film never forgets the situation it is dealing with. Despite everything, it is still two convicts running from the law, a subject that the characters must handle with care. And the film brings this to light very well, as it is very gripping at moments, and almost touching at others.

The Sugarland Express isn't much more than a very exciting adventure story with some enticing moments of drama thrown in, but you have to love it for that. It doesn't try to be much more and it pulls off everything it wants to deliver with a lot of talented finesse and grace. This is not a film to miss. It's only mistake was coming right before Jaws, a masterpiece that overshadowed it greatly, hence why we know that name, but few of us have heard of the pleasant little gem that is The Sugarland Express.


7 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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