The Sugarland Express

Watch The Sugarland Express

"A girl with a great following. Every cop in the state was after her. Everybody else was behind her."
  • PG
  • 1974
  • 1 hr 50 min
  • 6.7  (18,853)
  • 65

In 1974, director Steven Spielberg released his first feature film, The Sugarland Express, starring Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, and Michael Sacks. The film is based on a true story and follows a couple, Lou Jean and Clovis Poplin (Hawn and Sacks), who kidnap a policeman and take him on a wild ride in order to retrieve their son from foster care.

The film is set in Texas in the early 1970s and opens with Lou Jean and Clovis being released from jail after serving time for petty theft. They immediately head to the foster home where their son is staying and attempt to take him back. When they are caught, their son is returned to the foster system and they are both arrested. Lou Jean comes up with the idea to take a policeman hostage and use him as leverage to get their son back. Clovis reluctantly agrees, and they set off on a high-speed chase across Texas, with a growing number of police officers in pursuit.

As they drive through the state, Lou Jean and Clovis become folk heroes, with people lining the streets to cheer them on. However, their situation becomes increasingly dangerous as they draw more attention from the police. They pick up a third passenger, a sympathetic patrolman named Slide (Johnson), who tries to reason with them and deescalate the situation. As tensions mount, Lou Jean and Clovis must decide how far they are willing to go to reunite with their son.

The Sugarland Express marked the beginning of Spielberg's career as a major filmmaker and demonstrated his knack for creating compelling action sequences and sympathetic characters. Goldie Hawn shines as the determined and impulsive Lou Jean, while Sacks brings a sense of vulnerability to the reluctant criminal Clovis. Johnson adds depth and heart to the story as Slide, who tries to navigate the complex emotions and motivations of both the kidnappers and the police force.

The film is also notable for the way it portrays the relationship between law enforcement and the public. While the police are presented as sympathetic characters, they are also shown to be capable of making mistakes and acting out of self-interest. Similarly, Lou Jean and Clovis are not portrayed as hardened criminals, but rather as desperate parents who are willing to break the law to be reunited with their child.

The Sugarland Express received critical acclaim upon its release, with particular praise for Spielberg's direction and Hawn's performance. It was nominated for a Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and won the prize for Best Screenplay at the 1974 National Society of Film Critics Awards. Although it was not a box office success, the film helped establish Spielberg as a director to watch and paved the way for his future work on films like Jaws and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Overall, The Sugarland Express is a gripping and emotional road trip movie that explores themes of family, loyalty, and justice. It is a testament to Spielberg's early talent and a great example of the kind of storytelling that continues to resonate with audiences today.

The Sugarland Express is a 1974 crime movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 50 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.7 and a MetaScore of 65.

The Sugarland Express
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 50 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.7  (18,853)
  • Metascore