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The Sugarland Express: Wikis


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"The Sugar Land Express" also was the nickname of the American football player Kenneth Hall.
The Sugarland Express

original film poster
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Produced by David Brown
Richard D. Zanuck
Written by Story:
Steven Spielberg
Hal Barwood
Matthew Robbins
Hal Barwood
Matthew Robbins
Starring Goldie Hawn
Ben Johnson
William Atherton
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond
Editing by Edward M. Abroms
Verna Fields
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) April 5, 1974
Running time 110 min.
Country United States
Language English

The Sugarland Express is a 1974 American drama 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. Other scenes for the film were filmed in Lone Oak Community, Floresville, Pleasanton, Converse and Del Rio, Texas.



In May 1969, Ila Fae Dent assisted her husband Robert Dent escape from the Beauford H. Jester prison farm in Texas, because she feared their son will be placed in the care of her mother. During their flight, they overpowered and kidnapped Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Kenneth Crone, holding him hostage in a slow-moving caravan, along with reporters in news vans and helicopters. The Dents and Crone travelled through Port Arthur, Houston, Navasota, and finally Wheelock, Texas. In contrast to the film the events took only several hours.

The Dents brought Crone to the home of Ila Fae's mother, where they encountered numerous officers. An FBI agent and county sheriff shot and killed Robert Dent, and later arrested Ila Fae. Trooper Crone was unharmed. Ila Fae spent five months in a women's correctional facility, and later died in 1992. Crone was an advisor on the film and had a small role as a deputy sheriff.



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 film won the award for Best Screenplay at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival.[1]


  • 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 Spielberg's segment for Twilight Zone: The Movie.
  • The female dispatcher's voice in the movie saying "2311 Houston...2311 Houston...Houston Pierce", was an actual employee of the DPS.
  • Actual Texas Judge, Peter Curry presided over the courtroom scene. It was said that Curry was so particular about the scene shot in his courtroom, that Speilberg walked off, and told the judge to direct the scene, which he did!
  • 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.


Jester 3 is not the pre-release unit. It's the Jester 2 unit, which is now the Carol Vance unit, that is the pre-release unit that it took place in. It is located in Richmond Texas, five minutes away from Sugarland, Texas.


External links



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