Logan’s Run

LOGAN’S RUN saw “Logan 5, approach and identify” in the $9,000,000 1976 futuristic sci-fi thriller, based (purists would say debased) on the 1967 novel by William F. Noland and George Clayton Johnson, with acres of changes, mostly due to the bottom line expense-factor. While the design and special effects range from cool to cheesy, the ‘future’ is also safely 70’s stacked with shag hairdos and miniskirts, making life (for 30 years anyway) in a dome seem like one big disco inferno: literally “stayin’ alive” being the catch-2274.

By the year 2274, something has rendered earthling existence to containment in a giant domed city, with everything provided to its naively frolicking denizens except old—or even middle— age. Your “life-clock” runs out at age 30, when you’re given “renewal” via ‘Carrousel’, a public spectacle. Those who chose to skip Carrousel’s tilted odds become “runners“, pursued and zapped by ‘Sandmen’ like breezy ‘Logan 5’ (Michael York) and roistering pal ‘Francis 7’ (Richard Jordan). On a casual sex hookup troll Logan meets ‘Jessica 6’ (Jenny Agutter, extra fetching), certainly comely but decidedly serious. The Sandman’s shelf-life blinks red; he and his new playmate go on a peril-laden run that takes them through the frameworks of the dome, to the world they’ve never seen: outside.

If the audience is stoned, they won’t think it’s a model. But, who got stoned in 1976?

Flawed, diverting, colorful and empty, as directed by Michael Anderson it features a number of arresting moments, and an equal measure of those that show promise, then peter out. David Zelag Goodman (Monte Walsh, Straw Dogs) wrote the script, laced with logic and motivation holes, sprinkled with enough ‘futuristic’ terminology to muse on while glossing past (or steaming over) the sloppy stuff. The model of the city looks like just what it is—a big, neat but obvious model—and the interiors too often resemble a mall: that’s because a good deal of it was shot in one. Lazy costuming (albeit sneaky-peeky revealing), and some explosion effects that don’t look much better than something whipped up for TVs sci-fi larks Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea and The Time Tunnel (when they didn’t cheat with film clips). The robot ‘Box’ is neat as voiced by Roscoe Lee Browne, doing a merry-lethal number, but visually it’s a cheat. Much better are the matte paintings (done by Matthew Yuricich) of the landscape outside the dome, with Washington D.C.’s landmarks crumbled with age, overgrown by vegetation.

Fish, and plankton. And sea greens, and protein from the sea. It’s all here, ready. Fresh as harvest day. Fish and sea greens, plankton and protein from the sea. And then it stopped coming. And they came instead. So I store them here. I’m ready. And you’re ready. It’s my job. To freeze you. Protein, plankton...”

York’s fine (Logan not a particularly likeable character), Agutter charms, Jordan essays nastiness with style. Peter Ustinov shows up to ham as a “cute” old man: it’s a bit much. Audible sighs rippled through audiences at the to-die-for smile of new angel on the block Farrah Fawcett, 29; though her line readings are not exactly a threat to Katherine Hepburn.

Farrah Fawcett, 1947-2009 Theaters in 1976 had a different kind of Sensurround with guys exhaling statements starting with “Holy___”

Easily the best feature of the project is the superb music score from Jerry Goldsmith, who won his only Oscar for the same year’s The Omen: here he mixes creepy electronica for the city and surging orchestral work for the scenes outside the dome, giving the movie a sense of awe not equaled by the other production embellishments (okay, Farrah…).

With a gross of $28,800,000 placing 22nd in ’76, flashy, sex-teasy Logan’s Run easily trounced the year’s other weak sci-fi entries: Embryo, The Food Of The Gods, At The Earth’s Core, Futureworld and The Man Who Fell To Earth. All of them and Logan’s sprint to the Sun were beat to atoms at the box office by the ballyhooed (and booed) remake of King Kong and the devilish mayhem of The Omen. 

The Visual Effects took an Oscar; nominations went to Cinematography and Art Direction. The ‘run’ paces 120 minutes, and also features Michael Anderson Jr., Gary Morgan and Lara Lindsay.

Moment when Michael York was 100% certain he’d picked the right career path


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