The Sugarland Express


The Sugarland Express

Critics Consensus

Its plot may ape the countercultural road movies of its era, but Steven Spielberg's feature debut displays many of the crowd-pleasing elements he'd refine in subsequent films.



Total Count: 34


Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,146
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The Sugarland Express Photos

Movie Info

In a desperate attempt to keep her baby from being taken away by state authorities, a young wife helps her husband escape from jail. This drama follows the couple as they take a police officer hostage and set off across the country, pursued by the police the entire way.

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Goldie Hawn
as Lou Jean Poplin
William Atherton
as Clovis Michael Poplin
Michael Sacks
as Patrolman Maxwell Slide
Ben Johnson
as Capt. Harlin Tanner
Gregory Walcott
as Off. Mashburn
Louise Latham
as Mrs. Looby
Harrison Zanuck
as Baby Langston
A.L. Camp
as Mr. Nocker
Jessie Lee Fulton
as Mrs. Nocker
Dean Smith
as Russ Berry
Ken Hudgins
as Standby
James N. Harrell
as Mark Fenno
Frank Steggall
as Logan Waters
Roger Ernest
as Hot Jock No. 1
Guich Koock
as Hot Jock No. 2
Gene Rader
as Gas Jockey
Gordon Hurst
as Hubie Nocker
George Hagy
as Sparrow
Robert Golden
as Mechanic
Ruby Robbins
as Mechanic
Gene Lively
as Reporter
William Scott
as Station Man
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News & Interviews for The Sugarland Express

Critic Reviews for The Sugarland Express

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (31) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for The Sugarland Express

  • Dec 04, 2011
    This is an Underated classic as Steven's first "Theatrical" feature. Its an interesting story about how criminals can become folk heroes. Its very tragic too! Also was the beginning of a great friendship with composer; John Williams.
    Luke E Super Reviewer
  • Jul 06, 2011
    While not his first film ever, this was the feature length theatrical debut of a nice guy named Steven Spielberg. Based on actual events, this film tells the story of an outlaw couple who take a highway patrolman hostage in an ill-conceived but desperate effort to keep their child from being taken away from them and adopted. It's not long before they are accompanied by a convoy of law enforcement and media, and stir up support from just about every averge citizen they cross paths with as they journey across Texas. This film very much fits into the zeitgeist of the time period, and it really reminded me of a movie that was released a year later...a little movie called Dog Day Afternoon. Whereas that film was a brilliant masterpiece, this one is really fun and entertaining, but almost too absurd to really take seriously, even though it is based on real life. Maybe there should have been a couple fewer scenes of cars scrashing or swerving, and a bit more time spent on developing the characters and their personalities better. The film is uneven and a little rough, but Im not sure who to really blame here. Spielberg had experience making films, so who knows? I will say though that it's cool seeing a pre-Ghostbuster William Atherton, and 70s era Goldie Hawn. They both give pretty good performances (especially Hawn), as do Ben Johnson and Michael Sacks. The music is quite nice, and the cinematography is pretty good too. Besides what I've already mentioned the film also is a tad unfocused and a bit dated, yet it has a very charming quality to it, and it's certainly not boring. It has some issues, but I like it enough to give it a mild recommendation, so you should give it a shot.
    Chris W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 23, 2010
    Great work by Spielberg in this "petty criminal duo take a policeman hostage and go on the run to get their child back". The problem is the tone: it's far too light. And without a villain there's no tension. It's definitely worth a watch though, and Hawn is fantastic.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 11, 2010
    This movie should not have the word Express in it.
    James A Super Reviewer

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