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The Sugarland Express 1974 ***

Steven Spielberg’s first film as a director is an accomplished road movie, with Goldie Hawn providing the star-power as Lou Jean, who busts her husband (William Atherton) out of jail and kidnaps their son, with a tail of squad cars in pursuit under the direction of Captain Tanner (Ben Johnson). A precursor of Thelma and Louise, The Sugarland Express sees Spielberg make good on the promise of his TV movie Duel with excellent chase sequences in service of an empathetic character study. The downbeat ending is atypical of the director, but is effective enough in recalling the true-life story in 1969 that inspired the film.

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