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The Sugarland Express (1974)

 -  Adventure | Comedy | Crime  -  5 April 1974 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 8,848 users  
Reviews: 48 user | 44 critic

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.

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

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Captain Tanner
Michael Sacks ...
Slide
...
Clovis
...
Mashburn
...
Jessup
Louise Latham ...
Mrs. Looby
Harrison Zanuck ...
Baby Langston
A.L. Camp ...
Mr. Nocker
Jessie Lee Fulton ...
Mrs. Nocker
Dean Smith ...
Russ Berry
Ted Grossman ...
Dietz
Bill Thurman ...
Hunter
Kenneth Hudgins ...
Standby #1
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

Plot Keywords:

texas | hostage | prison | police | kidnapping | See more »

Taglines:

Every cop in the state was after her. Everybody else was behind her. See more »


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  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

First movie to feature a tracking shot (front seat to back) and a 360-degree pan with dialogue from within a car. See more »

Goofs

There is an Exxon station shown near the prison. The movie is based on events of May 1969. Standard Oil did not change Esso to the Exxon brand until 1973. 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

Referenced in Swordfish (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

I've Been Working on the Railroad
(uncredited)
Traditional
Played by a band when the car enters Rodrigues, Texas
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Spielberg's Forgotten First Film
6 June 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

After the success of Duel (which was really a TV movie) Sugarland Express (Spielberg's first feature film) flopped at the box office, though it received a reasonably warm critical response. In fact this is a great little movie for all kinds of reasons.

If you're interested in Spielberg as a director this is fascinating as it begins to lay out most of the themes that have driven his work ever since - family (especially divided and dysfunctional families), childhood, parenthood, outsiders, America and Americana etc. It's also a really interesting piece in terms of his developing style. This is the first Hollywood film in which panaflex cameras were used allowing Spielberg to produce fantastically elaborate and fluid shots even in the confines of a car (see the superb 360 pan fixed on Ben Johnson's car when he first talks to the Poplins)- a kind of cinematography that has become a hall mark of Spielberg's, as have the rising crane shots and extended tracking shots that pepper the film. Spielberg skies and "God Light" (his term for shafts of light in mist/at night) also feature heavily.

It's also a really interesting if somewhat unrecognised influence on films like Thelma and Louise which seems to lift its basic structure and characters right out of this film. The way Ben Johnson's Captain Tanner equates to Harvey Keitel's police officer in Ridley Scott's film seems particularly close.

Fantastic performances all round too. Johnson, Horne and Atherton (a much under-used actor who has been largely wasted since, playing roles like the self serving journalist in the Die Hard films)particularly shine.

It's also very funny, sad and engaging from beginning to end. Can't recommend this one enough - especially if you're a Spielberg fan.


20 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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