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The Sugarland Express (1974)

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:

A girl with a great following. 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

Clovis Poplin: We're in real trouble.
Clovis Poplin: Say, I didn't mean what I said.
Maxwell Slide: What was that?
Clovis Poplin: When I called you a son of a bitch, I didn't mean it
Maxwell Slide: And you ain't no mental subject neither.
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
8 August 2011 | by KnightsofNi11See 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.


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