Sugarland Express was Spielberg's first feature film (Duel (Special Edition) [DVD
] was released in cinemas only after its success on small screens) and is one of the better road movies of the 70s. A young Goldie Hawn playing a mildly delinquent mother bent on getting her son back - after being declared unfit for motherhood - and her prison escapee husband decide to kidnap a police officer in 1970s Texas and they jointly undertake a journey to Sugarland to claim their son. The film is vaguely based on true events from a couple of years earlier.
The movie shows much of Spielbergs potential and is excellently shot. The acting is good and while there is certainly some sentimentality, it is very well done (so it's not of the soppy variety). What rather surprised me, given the topic, was the frequent and excellent sense of humour brought to the film. There are a myriad of scenes, which get lightened for the viewer by a judicious societal criticism or interesting potshot. On top of that, one encounters a very different police force from what one is used to in movies (even from the 70s), one that is much more bent on serving society than on shooting everything that moves.
Overall it is an excellent film and well worth watching. It will not have the wild chase scenes or societal comentary of something like Vanishing Point  [DVD
] but it is a well executed (semi-) debut, with some inspired acting, and a good many hillarious scenes along the way. I expect it is one you will watch more than once, too.