So, last week, I asked for everyone to vote for which film I should watch on Sunday. 864 votes were cast and the winner was Michael Anderson’s 1976 cult classic, Logan’s Run. So, last night, I sat down with my sister Erin and we watched Logan’s Run. I have to admit that we both giggled a lot but we still enjoyed watching it. (I should also note that Logan’s Run was filmed in Dallas and Ft. Worth and, even 35 years later, both of us recognized a lot of familiar landmarks. The end of the film was shot at the Ft. Worth Water Gardens and we squealed with delight as we watched it and said, “We’ve been there!”)
Like most sci-fi films released before Star Wars, Logan’s Run takes place on a post-apocalyptic Earth. It’s the 23rd Century and what’s left of humanity lives in an underground city where they’re governed by a gently condescending computer. Civilization is now based around the pursuit of pleasure. Everyone appears to live in the world’s biggest mall (probably because the “City” scenes were actually filmed in a shopping mall located in my hometown of Dallas). It’s a city that’s essentially made up of slow-motion orgies, hot tubs, and crazy plastic surgeons. Everyone dresses in these sheer tunics and it quickly becomes obvious that the world’s knowledge underwear was apparently lost during the move underground. (Then again, this could have been because the film was made in the 70s. Seriously, did nobody own a bra in the 70s?)
Future civilization appears to have only one law and that’s that anyone who reaches the age of 30 has to go to Carrousel. At Carrousel, everyone has reached their time limit levitate in the air, floats around in a circle, and then blows up. Their fellow citizens assume that those being blown up are actually being “renewed” but actually, they’re just blowing up. (In many ways, Michael Anderson’s direction of Logan’s Run is pretty pedestrian but the Carrousel sequence is actually quite visually stunning.)
Now, some citizens don’t want to get blown up. These citizens are called runners and they greet their 30th birthday by attempting to flee the City and escape to the Outside and to a mysterious place they call “Sanctuary.” Some of them end up getting caught and frozen by a bizarre little robot called Box (played, in a really odd performance, by Roscoe Lee Browne). Those that don’t get caught by Box usually end up getting gunned down by the Sandmen. The Sandmen are a group of nylon-clad fascists who are never happier than when they’re gunning down runners.
At this point, you may have noticed that it actually takes more time to explain the film’s backstory than its actual story. Logan’s Run has a fascinating concept behind it and the plot has a lot of potential. Sadly, the film itself doesn’t quite live up to that potential but the story is still intriguing enough to carry the viewer through some of the film’s more uneven moments.
Michael York is Logan
The Logan of the title is a Sandman played by Michael York (who, when he first appears in this movie, projects just the right sense of unthinking entitlement). Logan is assigned (by the condescending computer) to infiltrate the runners and find sanctuary. In short, he’s ordered to run. However, as it quickly becomes obvious that nobody’s actually being renewed, Logan decides to run for real. Along with a runner named Jessica (played by Jenny Agutter), Logan tries to escape the city. Pursued by his best friend and fellow Sandman Francis (Richard Jordan), Logan and Jessica most deal with a psychotic plastic surgeon (well-played by the director’s son, Michael Anderson, Jr.) and his glam nurse (Farrah Fawcett!) as well as a tribe of feral children and a bunch of sex-crazed, naked people who move in slow motion. (It’s a neat visual, to be honest).
Logan, Jessica, and Farrah
When Logan and Jessica finally do reach the Outside, it turns out to not quite be all it was cracked up to be. (Or as Jessica puts it, in one of my favorite lines, “I hate outside!”) They come across the ruins of Washington, D.C. which turns out to be inhabited by a thousand cats and an old man played by Peter Ustinov. However, little do they know, Francis has followed them outside and, back at the City, the computer is still demanding to know the location of Sanctuary.
I enjoyed Logan’s Run but I’d be lying if I said it was a great film. It’s basically a big, silly, entertaining film that makes sense as long as you don’t think about it too much. I have a feeling that if I had seen this film in a theater, trapped in the same seat for 2 hours straight, I would probably be a lot harder on it. However, Logan’s Run is the perfect film to watch in the privacy of your own home with a friend or two (or, in my case, a big sister). The story is just good enough to hold your interest, you can openly giggle at the film’s more campy moments, and — once the action starts to drag — you’re free to move around and find something else to do until things get interesting again.
Ultimately, Logan’s Run shares the flaw that afflicts most sci-fi films that are about people trying to escape a decadent, dystopian society. That is, the movie is a lot more fun when everyone’s being decadent and evil than when everyone’s searching for a higher truth. When Jessica yelled that she hated the outside, I had to agree with her because the inside — even with everyone getting blown up at the age of 30 — was so much more fun. Inside the city, they had slow-motion orgies, hot tubs, and really pretty clothes. Meanwhile, the only thing that outside had to offer was Peter Ustinov reading a decayed copy of the Declaration of Independence. Don’t get me wrong — I was jealous that Ustinov got to live with all of those cute kitties but it just couldn’t compare with the psychotic plastic surgeons of the City. If that’s Outside, I can understand why everybody went inside.
(Personally, I call this the Matrix Rule. Everyone talks about how great Zion is but, seriously, what type of toadsucker would actually want to live in that tedious, ugly little Socialistic state?)
Still, despite this, Logan’s Run is a watchable and entertaining artifact of 70s “event” filmmaking. This film doesn’t have any scenes set in a disco but it really should.
Among the actors, both Michael York and Peter Ustinov are a lot of fun to watch as they both found their moments to go over the top and made the most of them. Perhaps my favorite over the top York moment came towards the end of the film when he shouted, “YOU CAN LIVE! LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!” When I first announced, on twitter, that I would be reviewing this film, I got a lot of replies from men who apparently had fond memories of Jenny Agutter in this film and her performance here is sexy and confident. Plus, she gets to deliver one of my favorite lines of all time, “I hate outside!” Still, if you want to talk about sexy and confidence, then you have to talk about Richard Jordan’s performance as the cocky Sandman, Francis. Seriously, Francis is a Sandman who could bring me a dream any night of the week…
Sexy, Dangerous Francis
So, in the end, Logan’s Run is silly but fun, uneven but definitely watchable. Thank you to everyone who voted for me to see this film. And until next time, remember — “Theeeeerrrrreeee Issssssssssss Noooooooo Saaaaaaaanctuuuuuuuary….”
Earlier today, I did a google search and I discovered that Logan's Run was apparently spun off into a television show. Apparently, this is the cast of that show. They certainly look a lot more cheerful than their film counterparts.