The Sugarland Express (1974)


Crime | Drama


Steven Spielberg




Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, Michael Sacks, William Atherton, Gregory Walcott, Steve Kanaly, Louise Latham


A woman (Goldie Hawn) attempts to reunite her family by helping her husband (William Atherton) 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.


Before "Jaws" made him famous, Steven Spielberg made his feature film directorial debut with "The Sugarland Express", a film that may have flopped at the box office, but that is totally worth checking out.

In fact, the film is a unique, very funny but also very sad road-chase kind of film that engages from beginning to end.

With the help of the screenwriters - whom later would win at Cannes -, Spielberg brings to a simple yet true story the realism needed, but also manages to keep it fun and to give the film that sense of adventure. Watching this, it's pretty obvious what influenced films like "Thelma and Louise".

The story is about two not that bright criminals running from the law, putting a lot of lives at risk. Along the way there are tons of people celebrating and hoping they will manage to get their son back, and the characters are so well written and portrayed, it'll feel like it's a duty to care for and take the couple's side.

And like I just said, the cast does a great job. A young Goldie Hawn gives a great performances as Lou Jean Poplin, the woman who can no longer distinguish fantasy from reality. She is funny and very entertaining, but she is more tragic than comic. The other great performance comes from Ben Johnson as Captain Harlin Tanner, the crusty police officer who leads the pursuit of the two escapees. William Atherton does a fine job as Clovis Michael Poplin, the submissive husband and he's well paired with Hawn. Michael Sacks does okay as the junior patrol officer who is taken hostage by the couple. 

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