The Sugarland Express

Tagline : Every cop in the state was after her. Everybody else was behind her.

Runtime : 110 mins

Genre : Crime Drama

Vote Rating : 6.5/10

Budget : 3 million $ USD

Revenue : 12.8 million $ USD

Plot : Married small-time crooks Lou-Jean and Clovis Poplin lose their baby to the state of Texas and resolve to do whatever it takes to get him back. Lou-Jean gets Clovis out of jail, and the two steal their son from his foster home, in addition to taking a highway patrolman hostage. As a massive dragnet starts to pursue them across Texas, the couple become unlikely folk heroes and even start to bond with the captive policeman.

Cast Members


Steven Spielberg's first proper cinema movie has some great photography from Vilmos Zsigmond. The tone is uncertain. A road movie, a tragic comedy with car pile ups that is based on true facts. Lou Jean Sparrow Poplin (Goldie Hawn) takes her husband Clovis (William Atherton) out of a minimum security prison just weeks before his eventual release. All to save their child who has been taken away and ready to put up for adoption. They kidnap a police officer which leads to them being pursued by the police and the media. Goldie Hawn is spiky as Lou Jean but she is also stupidly impulsive. A story that needed more work, Spielberg does make an accomplished film.

When "Clovis" (William Atherton) is incarcerated, his wife "Lou Jean" (Goldie Hawn) is facing losing their son to adoption. She's having none of this so decides to spring her husband from jail so they can go collect their bairn and head for Mexico. Things do not go to plan, though, and pretty quickly they are in an hijacked police-car being driven by "Officer Slide" (Michael Sacks). Needless to say, the police - under the shrewd "Capt. Tanner" (Ben Johnson) now up the ante and we are now looking at a chase that involves just about every police vehicle in the country! They are gradually digging themselves deeper with each mile they drive, but equally they begin to befriend their hostage and elicit a degree of sympathy from their pursuer as their predicament starts to tug at heart strings. It's a bit preposterous at times, and is certainly too long - but it does illustrate that Goldie Hawn has a skill - as an actress with a strong narrative to deliver, and as a woman who has expert comedy timing. There is humour here. It doesn't always work and at times is maybe just a little slapstick. It also does introduce and develop some depth to the characters - including Sacks and Johnson - which I found engaging as it trundled along. It's all based on a true story so not too much Steven Spielberg could do with the ending but the journey he takes us along is entertaining enough.

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