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The Sugarland Express (1974)

Goldie Hawn , Ben Johnson , Steven Spielberg  |  PG |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, Michael Sacks, William Atherton, Gregory Walcott
  • Directors: Steven Spielberg
  • Writers: Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins
  • Producers: Richard Zanuck, David Brown
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: August 17, 2004
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00028HBIE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,248 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Sugarland Express" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

The Sugarland Express is based on the true story of Lou Jean Poplin, who kidnapped a Texas State Trooper and led the police on a wild chase across the state in an effort to save her son from adoption. This complex role was enough to lure superstar Goldie Hawn back to the screen after a one-year hiatus following her Oscar-winning performance in Cactus Flower. It also marks the feature film debut of a young, now famous, director, Steven Spielberg.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 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 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting road movie based on true story August 22, 2004
Format:DVD
"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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great Spielberg debut, a cracking good movie August 20, 2004
Format:DVD
Thankfully we have a decent widescreen DVD of Spielberg's dazzling theatrical debut. It was a box office flop in 1974, probably because it didn't appeal to the `Easy Rider' set and because it makes satiric jabs at populist sentiment. Notably, its bittersweet ending poses sticky philosophical questions, distilled in the final, haunting line (I won't give it away here, you have to hear it for yourself). The hair raising finale presents the viewer with an odd Spielberg finish; who were the winners, who were the losers? And anyway, who in 1974 wanted Goldie in a superb but non-comic role? One of Spielberg's trademarks is tight visual and verbal economy. The opening shot alone makes ironic comments and transmits myriad detail, all within seconds. It's followed by one ingeniously inventive scene after another. A little slow to start, the action quickly gains momentum. Tension never stops building, spiked now and then by sudden moments of revelation and discovery. The acting is terrific (Spielberg uses local rubes better than any director around), and Ben Johnson's performance is one of unerring precision. HE steals the whole show. This was a most auspicious directorial debut and was a hit at Cannes (the well-honed script won first place). Spielberg knows how to get viewers involved and keep them there. As one who grew up down South I can testify that Spielberg captured the ambiance of the Texas countryside and people with gratifying authenticity. This is flawless work, among Spielberg's best. Hopefully this DVD will revive a film that has long deserved more attention. The DVD image is a bit soft in spots, and there's only a measly trailer for extras, but it's still a great ride for the money. Essential.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 2 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 3 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 4 months ago by T. Rogers
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sugarland Express
Great movie in the pure innocence of Goldie Hawn, although impractical for the husband not to wait until he gets out of jail to go find his son. Read more
Published 9 months ago by AMM
4.0 out of 5 stars Goldie is a star in the making.
I love this film simply for the fact that Goldie Hawn gives it her all from the start. When she's desperate and really goes for the intense emotions that some of the scenes... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Casey
4.0 out of 5 stars Spielberg's First Effort
This, I think is Stephen Spielberg's first theatrical movie. (Duel was made for TV.) It's based on a true story. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Cisco
5.0 out of 5 stars Sugarland Express
Simply a great action film with my favorite actress Goldie Hawn. Her acting is so wonderful and great. I enjoy all her movies.
Published 10 months ago by John Christensen
2.0 out of 5 stars A tragicomedy that is thoroughly unpleasant
A tragicomedy that is thoroughly unpleasant. . .

This movie is a combination of Dogday Aftenoon and Smokey and the Bear. Read more
Published 11 months ago by rwx
5.0 out of 5 stars No Blu-ray yet, but a Great DVD transfer
In terms of story telling technique, this fits really well in that Duel, JAWS, Close Encounters period of Spielberg's career. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but not a comedy; serious drama in the end
Although some parts of this movie, based on real events, are quite entertaining and even funny, there is the serious drama of a woman who gets her husband out of early release... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Viva
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