6.8/10
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68 user 59 critic

The Sugarland Express (1974)

PG | | Crime, Drama | 29 May 1974 (Sweden)
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:

Steven Spielberg

Writers:

Hal Barwood (screenplay), Matthew Robbins (screenplay) | 3 more credits »

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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Goldie Hawn ... Lou Jean
Ben Johnson ... Captain Tanner
Michael Sacks ... Slide
William Atherton ... Clovis
Gregory Walcott ... Mashburn
Steve Kanaly ... Officer Ernie Jessup
Louise Latham ... Mrs. Looby
Harrison Zanuck Harrison Zanuck ... Baby Langston
A.L. Camp A.L. Camp ... Mr. Alvin T. Nocker
Jessie Lee Fulton ... Mrs. Nocker
Dean Smith ... Russ Berry
Ted Grossman Ted Grossman ... Dietz
Bill Thurman ... Hunter
Kenneth Hudgins Kenneth Hudgins ... Standby #1
Buster Daniels Buster Daniels ... 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

Taglines:

It's Not Every Day You Take a Ride Like This! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 May 1974 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Carte Blanche See more »

Filming Locations:

San Antonio, Texas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$7,500,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$12,800,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

When the helicopter with Lou Jean's father lands at the stadium, although he is seen leaving the helicopter in the close shots on the ground, in the wide shot of it landing, he is not there. Instead, a cameraman is visible in the father's seat, holding a 35mm movie camera, shooting the father's POV footage of the landing. 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 '1941' (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold
Written by Wiley Walker and Gene Sullivan
Sung by William Atherton, Goldie Hawn and Michael Sacks
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Spielberg's Forgotten First Film
6 June 2008 | by joshbaileynchSee 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.


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