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Logan’s Run, 36 (and counting) years later

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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.

Jenny Agutter in Logan's Run (1976)
Jenny Agutter in Logan’s Run (1976).

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 movie retrospective
Michael York and Jenny Agutter Logan’s Run production still.

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.

Logan's Run book covers

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.

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5 Comments

  1. It’s interesting that much of the world depicted in “Logan’s Run” was actually filmed in a shopping mall. Think there’s a subliminal message there? I often wonder after Logan returns to the domed city and exacts his retribution, what was going to happen to all of the surviving citizens who (once they got through pawing poor Ustinov’s face) previously had everything provided for them and had no survival skills?

  2. To the best of my knowledge; I am the only one who has ever written a sequel to the film itself; David Zelag Goodman’s screenplay; a trilogy in fact called “The Outside” and the first book is called “The Valkyrie’s Nemesis”. Why? I was 16 at the time and I wanted answers to my questions; all from the final scene. The City blows up; everyone comes out and wow – the Old Man! Who then gestures up to L& J and the people all see this – and thus in that moment our heros are cemented as the leaders and founders of whatever sort of society they would build for themselves. And uhhh – notice in that final scene there are no black and grey tunic Sandmen? Where did they all go? I answered these questions in my first book which takes place in late 2278, almost 3 years after the film’s conclusion. The sandmen wage war against Sanctuary.
    My trilogy’s concluding book; “The Rainbow of 2337” ends very well and upbeat but starts extremely dark; “Logan fans” dont like it at all.
    “Blustery winds whipped from the northeast; it was cold and grey for early November; Jessica tightened her coat about her as she walked down the path alone… It had been nine months since the funeral of her husband, Logan 5…”

    I took artistic license from the screenplay in that Francis 7 does not die. To know my books is to know Thoreau and Emerson. In 1993 I had some contact with Ms. Agutter and she was taken by my development of her character, Jessica 6 – whom only she and she alone could ever portray. In my final novel; Jessica is now a graciously retired lady, now over 80 years old (looks and feels 40 – technology in sci-fi is great!) the mother of 8 and grandmother of 14. And her society – SANCTUARY – also has been fruitful and multiplied. Yet her dear friend Francis 7 had to convince Jessica to come out of retirement for as the sole surviving founder of Sanctuary; only her influence could hold LJSC together and keep it from chaos and civil war…

  3. […] would be his last film. He brought on English director Michael Anderson (who would go on to direct Logan’s Run, another pulp-y creation but one that had more of an impact on my adolescent self). Ron Ely, the […]

  4. […] one of the original session musicians, a bassist, playing with them; for having ’70s disco/Logan’s Run outfits that were based on those worn by the original band; and for a setlist that was a mix of […]

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