The Sugarland Express

The Sugarland Express

:"The Sugar Land Express" also was the nickname of the American football player Kenneth Hall."Infobox Film | name = The Sugarland Express

caption= original film poster
director = Steven Spielberg
producer = David Brown
Richard D. Zanuck
writer = Steven Spielberg
Hal Barwood
Matthew Robbins
Hal Barwood
Matthew Robbins
starring = Goldie Hawn
William Atherton
music = John Williams
cinematography = Vilmos Zsigmond
editing = Edward M. Abroms
Verna Fields
distributor = Universal Pictures
released = April 5, 1974 (USA)
runtime = 110 min.
language = English
budget =
amg_id = 1:47587
imdb_id = 0072226

"The Sugarland Express" is a 1974 feature film starring Goldie Hawn and William Atherton. It is the first theatrical feature film directed by Steven Spielberg. It is about a husband and wife trying to outrun the law and was based on a true story. The event partially took place, the story is partially set, and the movie was partially filmed in Sugar Land, Texas.ref|IMDBLoc Other scenes for the film were filmed in Lone Oak Community, Floresville, Converse and Del Rio, Texas.


In 1969, Ila Fae Dent helped her husband Robert escape from the Beauford H. Jester pre-release prison facility in Texas (the same one where the movie was filmed), because she feared losing custody of their child to Ila Fae's mother. During their flight, they overpowered and kidnapped Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Kenneth Crone, holding him hostage during a slow-moving caravan of up to 150 DPS vehicles, along with reporters in cars and helicopters and hundreds of curious bystanders, that passed through Port Arthur, Houston, Navasota, and finally Wheelock, near Bryan. Unlike the film, the events took just several hours.

At Ila Fae's mother's house, they encountered numerous officers including an FBI agent. The situation grew tense, with Crone held at gunpoint. The FBI agent and county sheriff shot and killed Robert. The trooper was uninjured. Ila Fae spent five months in prison. She died in 1992. Crone was an advisor on the film and had a small role as a deputy sheriff. The final shooting was done in Del Rio Texas, the same day President Nixon was there for the opening of Amistad Dam. Having to shoot around the President became time consuming and Nixon did make a cameo in the film, as he and Hawn knew each other from "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In".

Film promotion

The promoters of the film played up the grassroots support that existed for a mother trying to claim custody of her child. Some posters used the tagline:

A girl with a great following
Every cop in the state was after her.
Everybody else was behind her.
For the DVD release, the first line was dropped.


*The pre-release facility is located in the Jester III Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Institutional Division, in present-day northwestern part of Sugar Land, Texas and no where near the Mexican Border as depicted in the movie.
*Every Spielberg film from this one on has been scored by John Williams, except "The Color Purple" and "".
*The movie misspells the name of the city (Sugar Land is properly spelled as two words, not one).
*The female dispatcher's voice in the movie saying "2311 Houston...2311 Houston...Houston Pierce", was an actual employee of the DPS.
*Patrolman Slide's DPS cruiser is a 1973 Dodge Polara. After filming was completed, Spielberg purchased the vehicle, and drove it as his daily driver for a short period of time - bullet holes and all.
*The 1974 price of regular gasoline at the ARCO station at which the hijacked Texas DPS cruiser stops is 31.9 cents per gallon. Patrolman Slide's salary is $620/month, although, he says, "I take home a lot less."

References in Popular Culture

*In the film "Swordfish", Gabriel Shear (John Travolta) says he did not like the way "The Sugarland Express" ended.


# [ Internet Movie Database - Locations] - accessed 20 March 2006.


* "The "Sugarland Express" Gang", "Texas Monthly", September 1 2001

External links


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