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The Sugarland Express [VHS] (1974)

Goldie Hawn , Ben Johnson , Steven Spielberg  |  PG |  VHS Tape
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, Michael Sacks, William Atherton, Gregory Walcott
  • Directors: Steven Spielberg
  • Writers: Steven Spielberg, Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins
  • Producers: David Brown, Richard D. Zanuck
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Goodtimes Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: March 5, 1998
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000006N60
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #635,086 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Steven Spielberg's first feature film was, in fact, a small-scale commercial flop--but good enough to earn him a shot at making his name directing Jaws. Goldie Hawn and William Atherton play a young couple who, after some bad breaks and mistakes, have their child taken away by the state of Texas. So they take the law into their own hands and take off to retrieve him, on the run from the police--lots and lots of police--all the while turning themselves into a cause célèbre. Strong filmmaking overcomes a melodramatic script; it's fledgling Spielberg, which is better than full-blown Arthur Hiller or Joel Schumacher any day. --Marshall Fine

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On The Road To SUGARLAND March 19, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
It was thirty years ago this very month that Steven Spielberg made his official big-screen directing debut (his 1971 film DUEL being an excellent made-for-TV offering) with THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS. Even at this early stage in his career, Spielberg's directoral instincts were extremely sharp, and his concentration on the characters is masterful. It's amazing how people sell Spielberg short in this area simply because so many of his films seem to be all about special effects and gee-whiz heroics.
Loosely based on events that occurred in Texas in the spring of 1969, the film stars Goldie Hawn as an ex-con mother who springs her reluctant husband (William Atherton) from a prison farm so they can get their infant son back from a foster family that has refused to return custody to Hawn. But when they hijack a Texas state trooper (Michael Sachs) and force him to driver them to the town of Sugarland, they attract far more attention than they bargained for: mass media, hundreds of onlookers, and nearly half of the total number of law enforcement officers in Texas. Veteran character actor Ben Johnson is the lead lawman in this relatively slow-speed chase, occasionally punctuated by redneck sniper gunfire, who sympathizes with Hawn's and Atherton's plight but who also must still perform his duties. It all comes to a climax at Sugarland with a jarring result.
Although made for relatively little money (just three million, as opposed to the tens of millions Spielberg would spend on his films in ensuing decades), THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS was still only a modest box office hit. Part of that could be attributed to audiences' expectations of seeing Hawn in a frothy comedy following her turn on TV's "Laugh-In" and instead getting a real live actress with intensity.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting road movie based on true story August 22, 2004
"The Sugarland Express" received good critical reviews but flopped at the box office. Luckily, Spielberg had demonstrated his skill as a director with this film and the TV movie "Duel". Both earned him the chance to direct "Jaws" and the rest, as they say, is history. Based on a true story, Lou Jean Poplin (Goldie Hawn)convinces her husband Clovis (William Atherton from "Ghostbusters" and "Die Hard")to break out of a minimum security prison even thought he has only a couple of months to go. Their son is being taken away from her and being put into foster care. Lou Jean won't stand for this and she proposes that they kidnap their own son. In the process, the pair end up taking a Texas police officer (Michael Sacks "Slaughter House Five")hostage and are pursued by Texas lawmen led by Captain Tanner (Ben Johnson) across the state.

Steven Spielberg's first film gives evidence of his talent and skills as a film director. Although he would later be accused of creating the box office mania that "dumbed down" Summer films into "event films", Spielberg didn't create the popcorn movie genre. Like Hitchcock, Spielberg made many types of films and this, his second, was among his most ambitious early films in terms of scope, technique and themes. Based on a story that Spielberg concocted with screenwriters Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins ("The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings", "Dragonslayer") from a true story a taunt, often funny and powerful road movie.

The strong performances and well written script gave Spielberg a springboard to dive into a pool of ambitious film techniques. Make no mistake, though, this film isn't just about technique and that's its saving grace. Otherwise, this could have degenerated into just another exploitation film.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spielberg's 1st Real Movie. February 1, 2005
Between the fame Spielberg garnered from the success of the tv film DUEL and that first movie blockbuster of all time called JAWS, Spielberg directed another movie. This film was THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS and was his real theatrical debut.

The movie is based on actual real-life events. It tells about the adventures of a woman named Lou Jean Poplin (Goldie Hawn) and her husband, Clovis Michael Poplin (William Atherton) and there attempt to take back their baby from the foster parents who adopted the child while they were both in jail. Lou Jean has had a difficult life and is attempting to start anew, but the State of Texas won't allow her to have her baby back. In an act of focused anger and despair, Lou Jean convinces Clovis to break out of jail and together the duo begin a race across Texas to get back their child. Long before their was O.J. Simpson, there was Lou Jean Poplin and on their journey just about every policeman in the state of Texas and many other nearby states join the "chase" which ends up being probably the longest parade in America history.

THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS was not only Spielberg's feature film debut, but it was also the film that turned Goldie Hawn's career around from that of purely comic to one of dramatic as well. The film displays the begins of the "Spielbergian charm"--the modern equivalent of a Frank Capra picture. However, unlike many of Spielberg's other movies, THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS doesn't have the happiest of endings (though some relief is given in the closing comments over the screen). The movie is over 30 years-old, but holds up well. The story is moving, yet not all very sentimental.

Many believe that THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS was a flop in theatres. This is not true.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good
Published 16 days ago by Ahmad Abdulla Alawadhi
5.0 out of 5 stars This was filmed in my home town as I was ...
This was filmed in my home town as I was growing up so it was a pleasant trip down memory lane.
Published 1 month ago by Ray martin
2.0 out of 5 stars Lame story, lame script, and mostly awful acting
Maybe in it's day it was good, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone as worth 90 minutes of their time, unless they want to marvel at how this lame story didn't squash Spielberg's... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ron Alan Pierce
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 2 months ago by SG
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved the movie
Steven Spielberg first movie. Loved the movie, didn't have a clue who HE was at the time.
A Must See......."Baby Langston....Baby Langston"......
Published 2 months ago by janet kay shields
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Spielberg's best movies
Just watched the movie and it brought back memories when I first saw it many years ago. Goldie Hawn was great in this movie.
Published 5 months ago by Joseph D. brooks
3.0 out of 5 stars An Early Spielberg Entry
I had interest in this movie for 2 reasons. For one I live just down the road from Sugarland, and wanted to see what it was like some 40 years ago (it has changed dramatically). Read more
Published 5 months ago by Julian Pope
2.0 out of 5 stars Sugarland Express
This movie caught my attention at first. Then as it got more into it it got worse. The storyline was drawn out and all over the place. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Metal667
4.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing debut, 40 years old…
It’s always really neat to see where a famous director got their start. You can see shades of the director they became in their early work, but seeing their debut can be something... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Andrew Ellington
5.0 out of 5 stars Tonton
I have ALWAYS LOVED this movie, but it was so hard to find it, Goldie was EXCELLENT in this movie, so glad to finally purchase it.
Published 9 months ago by Tonton
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