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The Sugarland Express

Back in 1974, Steven Spielberg was 28 years old. He had experienced a big TV hit with "Duel" starring Dennis Weaver on ABC and kicked off his film career with 'The Sugarland Express". Goldie Hawn and William Atherton are 25 year old Texans who have fallen on the wrong side of the law, but are determined to get their young child out of foster care. Goldie decides to bust her husband out of a pre-release facility to join her to get Baby Langston in Sugarland, Texas. Within a few hours, they have kidnapped a police officer and have half of the Texas police force chasing them across the state. This movie really surprised me! I remembered it as slow, kind of annoying and a lesser Spielberg effort. Watching it now, I was blown away by the confidence that Speilberg shows in his first feature. Goldie is great, as are Atherton and Ben Johnson as a police captain with a heart. This was Spielberg's first collaboration with cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, who would go on to make most of Spielberg's hits with him. There is a shot of two police officers driving side by side and talking. As one starts singing, the camera pulls out the side window of one of the cars and floats up behind them to watch them speed away. Really? In 1974? That's just showing off almost 40 years ago before CGI! This was also composer John Williams' first score for Steven and is a great one. Of course, the two have gone on to work together on virtually everyone of Spielberg's blockbusters. This is a confident, funny, dramatic, great little movie. It's definitely improved with age. It shows Spielberg at work the summer before JAWS showing us he already had serious chops! A

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