He’s cinema’s most famous living director, a man responsible for some of the most popular movies in history, but how many of you have been 1941? Always? Okay, how about The Sugarland Express? Ahead of the release of The BFG, we look back at some of the forgotten movies in Steven Spielberg's back catalogue...
Spielberg’s first directed film is a 26-minute short about a young man who, hitchhiking across the Southern California desert, encounters a free-spirited fellow traveller. It’s pretty slight, but it did lead to the 22-year-old becoming the youngest director ever to be signed to a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio (Universal). You see the full movie below...
The Sugarland Express (1974)
Duel, about about a man being terrorised by a mysterious truck driver, was Spielberg’s first full-length feature, and is justly celebrated as a powerful and assured thriller. But no-one really talks about his second movie, the raucous crime drama The Sugarland Express. The movie, which stars Goldie Hawn, holds a 92% rating on reviews website Rotten Tomatoes. Its critical consensus reads, "Its plot may ape the countercultural road movies of its era, but Steven Spielberg's feature debut displays many of the crowd-pleasing elements he'd refine in subsequent films."
It should be more lauded than it is – a historical comedy epic directed by Steven Spielberg, with a script by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale (Back to the Future) and a cast that includes Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Christopher Lee, John Candy and James Caan. But sometimes a work of art is less than the sum of its parts, and 1941 is a howling mess of a movie. "Some people think that was an out-of-control production, but it wasn’t,” Spielberg said much later. “What happened on the screen was pretty out of control, but the production was pretty much in control. I don’t dislike the movie at all. I’m not embarrassed by it – I just think that it wasn’t funny enough." He's right.
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Spielberg was a long-time fan of The Twilight Zone, the eccentric 60s anthology series created by sci-fi maverick Rod Serling, so much so that he partnered up with The Blues Brothers’ John Landis to produce a four-story movie version of the cult show. Landis, George (Mad Max) Miller and Joe (Gremlins) Dante each directed a segment, with Spielberg’s contribution being a remake of the 1962 episode, 'Kick the Can'. It’s a beautiful, magical tale, about a bunch of OAPs being given the chance to become children again, and probably the highlight of a colossally underrated movie.
Spielberg directed this low-key gem inbetween Empire of the Sun and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, about a daredevil forest-fire fighter who is killed in action and returns as a ghost. A remake of the 1943 romantic drama A Guy Named Joe, it reunited Spielberg with his Jaws star Richard Dreyfuss and is notable as the final film of screen legend Audrey Hepburn.
The BFG arrives at Cineworld on 22 July.