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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 8,751 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.

Director:

Writers:

(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)
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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

Steven Spielberg:  [music]  This filmed marked the beginning of Spielberg's friendship with John Williams. As of 2012, Williams has scored every Spielberg-directed theatrical film except The Color Purple (1985) and the anthology film Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983). See more »

Goofs

Throughout the film, Captain Tanner's unmarked blue Dodge Polara is shown to have full-size factory hubcaps. When he is crashed into by the local sheriff trying to "76" the hi-jacked patrol car, Tanner jumps out and the car now has typical police dog dish hubcaps. See more »

Quotes

Maxwell Slide: Is your name Buster Daniels?
Drunk: Well, it was before I married.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Making of Steven Spielberg's 'Jaws' (1995) 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

 
Ambling into Film History, Young Spielberg Starts Out
1 March 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The first theatrical feature by Spielberg, his last as just another director before "Jaws," this story is saddled by what I call an 'idiot's resolve' plot. This means the main characters behave like complete idiots and, in real life, wouldn't get two steps in the direction they're going, much less the miles of roadway managed in this pic. But - and this is an important point - the story is supposedly based on a real life incident, which means such theorizing may not apply here. It all depends on how much Spielberg and the writers exaggerated events, which I tend to think was quite a bit. The story is jump-started in that a 2-year old baby is placed in foster care; the real parents (Hawn & Atherton), small-time criminals, won't have it and break the father's incarceration to set out for the foster home. But, from the outset, these two are presented as such obvious losers, I was hoping they'd never reach the kid. The father, for example, has only 4 months remaining of post-prison time to do; in short order, the idiot couple's transgressions escalate from auto theft to kidnapping of a cop (Sacks). In essence, they quickly sabotaged any chance for themselves of getting the kid back in a happy fashion.

I also got the impression Spielberg was poking a lot of fun at Texas and Texacans in general, where this takes place. Besides the two idiotic so-called parents, most everyone else is also presented as a buffoon, a country hick with no clue. The more sinister examples are those who live for the opportunity to shoot someone - this is gun country, after all. The only one who escapes with his dignity intact is the police captain, well played by Ben Johnson. There are traces of the imagery and poignancy which many of Spielberg's later pictures would be laced with. There's the absurdity of that long, very long line of police vehicles, lights flashing, following that one car with the fugitives (I guess no other crimes needed attention in the county that day?). And the sudden look on Atherton's face when he watches a Road Runner cartoon is amazing. But these are a few instances far and between in an ambling picture. Hawn is immensely likable, of course, but in the end she comes off as an idiotic screaming shrew who directly causes bad stuff to happen. Maybe it's just me, but I don't really like women such as this. But then, if this is true-to-life, Spielberg captured some sense of an unpleasant reality we have no control over. It just didn't retain such a consistency through the entire movie.


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