Archive of films The Sugarland Express / The Sugarland Express

1974, 110 min

Section: New Hollywood
Year: 2007

The heroes of Steven Spielberg’s feature-film debut are a young married couple trying to prevent the adoption of their son, even at the cost of violence. With a fleet of cars full of cops armed to the teeth, and sensation-seeking reporters on their heels, they set out across Texas seeking nothing more than normal family happiness.


Lou Jean Poplin helps her husband Clovis break jail so they can stop their young son from being adopted. As they journey across Texas, the emotionally immature and impulsive pair rack up mistakes one after the other. On their heels is a fleet of cars full of cops armed to the teeth and sensation-seeking reporters. Only the cool-headed police captain Tanner is on the side of the fugitives, who yearn for nothing more than simple family happiness. But will he be able to save Lou Jean and Clovis? This drama, which was inspired by real events and blends socio-critical elements with the action-film model, was Spielberg’s feature-film debut, often erroneously considered to be the TV thriller Duel (1971), which shares an interest with The Sugarland Express in the road movie as a narrative form. Spielberg’s family theme rings out strongly for the first time in this film, which was also made famous by its scenes of car chases with a cordon of police vehicles. The Sugarland Express was screened in the competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 1974, where it won the award for Best Screenplay.

About the director

Steven Spielberg (b. 1946, Cincinnati) through his work as a director and producer, worked his way up to becoming perhaps the most influential person in cinematic history. It was his shark thriller Jaws (1975) that made him a directorial star. In the 1980’s he created the model for film entertainment that is still in effect today around the world (the sci-fi E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, 1982; the Indiana Jones trilogy, 1984-98). It was only in 1993 however that he was awarded as a director of “serious” cinema thanks to his holocaust drama Schindler’s List (1993 – Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director). Among Spielberg’s additional successes are the action/adventure Jurassic Park (1993), the war film Saving Private Ryan (1998 – Oscar for Best Director), the sci-fi Minority Report (2002), and the drama Munich (2005). He is now working on the fourth instalment of Indiana Jones.


100 Universal City Plaza, CA 91608, Universal City
United States of America
Tel: +1 818 777 0645
Fax: +1 818 866 1476

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: New Hollywood
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins
Dir. of Photography: Vilmos Zsigmond
Music: John Williams
Editor: Edward Abroms, Verna Fields
Producer: Richard Zanuck, David Brown
Production: Universal
Cast: Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, Michael Sacks, William Atherton, Gregory Walcott, Steve Kanaly
Contact: Universal

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