6.8/10
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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

Most of the smaller roles in the film were cast locally, many with non-actors. Not only did that save on transportation and housing expenses, but Steven Spielberg was able to get memorable, authentic performances from the locals. See more »

Goofs

While the Border Patrol's purpose is indeed to protect the United States against illegal entry and not vice-versa, they are still a law enforcement agency that can be called upon to assist other state or federal agencies (as depicted in the film) to prevent wanted felons fleeing the United States jurisdiction during a pursuit. This has happened numerous times in reality and as such they are completely justified in firing at Clovis's car during their attempted escape. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Features Whoa, Be-Gone! (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

The Eyes of Texas
(uncredited)
Written by John Lang Sinclair
[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

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.


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