Hear the original score from John Williams and Steven Spielberg’s first EVER film together

21 June 2024, 14:52 | Updated: 24 June 2024, 10:55

John Williams and Steven Spielberg have been making movies together for 50 years
John Williams and Steven Spielberg have been making movies together for 50 years. Picture: Alamy

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

When ‘The Sugarland Express’ starring Goldie Hawn hit screens in 1974, it marked the beginning of a 50-year partnership for Williams and Spielberg. And the original soundtrack is about to be released for the first time.

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Composer John Williams and director Steven Spielberg have been making movies together for over 50 years, in a decades-long partnership that has produced some of the greatest movies and soundtracks of a generation.

Almost every single one of Spielberg’s films has been scored by Williams – the five exceptions being Twilight Zone: the Movie (1983) by Jerry Goldsmith, The Color Purple (1985) by Quincy Jones, Bridge of Spies (2015) by Thomas Newman, Ready Player One (2018) by Alan Silvestri, and West Side Story (2021) with music by Leonard Bernstein.

But before they worked on E.T., Indiana Jones or Schindler’s List, the first film Spielberg and Williams ever collaborated on as director and composer was The Sugarland Express (1974), starring Goldie Hawn as a Texas mother who breaks her husband (William Atherton) out of a prison farm when she is denied custody of their baby.

Together they hijack a highway patrolman and lead a convoy of media, onlookers, and countless police cars across the state (watch the trailer below).

Read more: John Williams needed a clarinettist for ‘Jaws’ – so Spielberg volunteered

Watch the trailer for The Sugarland Express

Spielberg’s first feature film was billed as “one of the most phenomenal debut films in the history of movies” by The New Yorker.

And now, in celebration of the duo’s 50th anniversary, an original soundtrack is being created and released for the first time – with Jonathan Ross giving the world premiere radio play in Classic FM at the Movies on Saturday 22 June at 7pm (listen on Global Player).

Although Williams’ score never received an album release, the 50th anniversary of his historic partnership with Spielberg, along with a revisitation of the film for Universal Studios’ new 4K restoration, created momentum to put out an original soundtrack album, produced by the composer himself and featuring moments not included in the film.

Read more: Steven Spielberg confirms documentary on film music legend John Williams

The Sugarland Express (1974) starring Goldie Hawn was Williams and Spielberg’s first collaboration
The Sugarland Express (1974) starring Goldie Hawn was Williams and Spielberg’s first collaboration. Picture: Alamy

While Spielberg originally hoped for a larger scale score for his first movie, Williams convinced him that The Sugarland Express called for something more intimate.

The great Belgian harmonica soloist Toots Thielemans became the principal musical voice of the film, supported by an ensemble of guitarists and percussionists and a small string ensemble. The music has a bluesy, country vibe which perfectly evokes the landscape and cultural backdrop of the tale.

The Sugarland Express OST is the 21st title within the now highly acclaimed Universal Pictures Film Music Classics Collection. You can buy the album here on La La Land Records.

Hear the world premiere radio play of music from ‘The Sugarland Express’ original soundtrack on Classic FM at the Movies with Jonathan Ross on Saturday 22 June from 7-9pm. Listen on Global Player.