Sugarland Express [1974]

Steven Spielberg's first feature film was, in fact, a small-scale commercial flop--but good enough to earn him a shot at making his name directing Jaws. Goldie Hawn and William Atherton play a young couple who, after some bad breaks and mistakes, have their child taken away by the state of Texas. So they take the law into their own hands and take off to retrieve him, on the run from the police--lots and lots of police--all the while turning themselves into a cause célèbre. Strong filmmaking overcomes a melodramatic script; it's fledgling Spielberg, which is better than full-blown Arthur Hiller or Joel Schumacher any day. --Marshall Fine

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