I was only a kid when…
Logan’s Run, 36 years later
Logan’s Run movie retrospective
I must’ve been 12 when I saw Logan’s Run for the first time. It was in a theatre in downtown Winnipeg. It may even have been my birthday.
Besides being a glorious slice-of-’70s sci-fi cheese (though I didn’t know it at the time), the 1976 movie jump-started my adolescence.
Movie trailer – Logan’s Run (1976)
Logan’s Run starred Michael York as the title character. Logan is a Sandman, a member of the local gendarmery. The force is charged with killing “runners.” (A runner is anyone who decides to opt out of the state’s system of population control via death at 30). But after a “special assignment”, dude is suddenly forced to decide if he’s going to carry out his state-directed orders or run himself.
Veteran British actor Peter Ustinov gives a naturalistic performance as an isolated old cat man. Farrah Fawcett-before-the-Majors makes a brief and spangly green appearance as a cosmetic surgeon’s assistant. And Jenny Agutter plays Logan’s love interest and fellow runner, Jessica 6.
It’s the film’s mild nudity, and the icy English rose beauty of Agutter that I hold responsible for my leap into adolescence. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Even today, though, the movie casts a spell. Sure, it looks low-rent, retro and is sometimes silly. But Logan’s Run has an atmosphere unlike just about any other science fiction movie of its time.
Logan’s Run—the novel, the comic book, the TV series
There are plotholes (like, why does Logan call the rest of his fellow Sandmen when he’s already decided to run?) and cheesy special effects galore. But the movie lets its hero be an anti-hero—a coldblooded, if misguided, killer—for a good chunk its run-time.
Decades after its release, the idea of a society so brainwashed as to accept its state-sanctioned fate is just as relevant.
Logan’s Run was based on a novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. The 1967 book had an even more nihilistic premise—death at 21—and a far different ending. It spawned a couple of sequels. (As a kid, I devoured them all.) The movie led to a TV series (the DVD of which is about to be released) and a comic book series (from Marvel, seven issues). The possibility of a remake has been bandied about for years. That could be… interesting.
But the 1976 Logan’s Run is a kind of perfect storm of set, costume design, British thea-tah acting talent, music (Jerry Goldsmith‘s score is something else) and ideas.
The following year, Star Wars would usher in the era of big- (and low-)budget “space operas.” And the Golden Age of idea-based science fiction movies would be over.