Logan’s Run (1976)

Theater PosterRated: PG
Duration: 1h 59min
IMDB Genre Listing: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Released (USA): June 23, 1976
BIYF Year: 1998 (BIYF I)

Director: Michael Anderson
Producer: Saul David
Writer: David Zelag Goodman
Music: Jerry Goldsmith
Starring: Michael York, Richard Jordan, Jenny Agutter, Farrah Fawcett, Peter Ustinov

IMDB Description: An idyllic sci-fi future has one major drawback: life must end at the age of 30.

Roger Ebert | NY Times | HubPages | John Kenneth Muir

Welcome to the world of the FUTURE!
While award-worthy at the time, some effects in “Logan’s Run” (such as the model work pictured here) seem to pull younger viewers (and reviewers) out of the moment and compromise their suspension of disbelief. As an elderly person with a functional imagination I still enjoy them, however. That makes my job easy today.

I end my BIYF 1998 re-watch with 1976’s Logan’s Run, arguably the the last major gasp of pre-Star Wars science fiction films as well as our final “BIYF I” film. Not Of This Earth joined me on this one so I got to watch it above ground with moral support. Still no beer/alcohol required (to date) to survive my journey.

Ah, the fiery ritual of Carrousel. Renew! Drink beer! Well, not yet. Circumstances still haven’t forced me to resort to alcohol to survive the BIYF Binge.

Logan’s Run is a bit of an outlier in some ways compared to Zardoz and Barbarella. It’s a “big-budget” effects film that was, if not critically respected, at least positively reviewed as fun and entertaining. It saw reasonable financial success, did well enough that it spun-off a short-lived television series, and it was frequently re-shown on network/local TV – with a few edits, of course. It won awards. It almost had toys. I was certainly more intimately familiar with Logan’s Run than with either of our two other inaugural films.

Decisions, decisions...
Speaking of intimate familiarity, here’s Logan with his good friend Francis and his random stranger Jessica. So Sandmen can only wear grey and black, even while lounging in their Hefner-esque robes? I guess that makes sense given their color-coded world.

I might even go so far as to dub this the first example of what I think of as a BIYF “palate cleanser” film: A decent or historically significant BIYF-like film that manages to transcend its failures/datedness (if any) and survives on merit. Or occasionally on unabashed, almost universally shared nostalgia. Either way, its enjoyability serves as a welcome respite from the alternative. Much like letting a prisoner rest and eat before resuming torture.

Not just another pretty face.
And torture is definitely on the Doc’s “to do” list here, though Logan doesn’t realize it just yet. Farrah Fawcett (as Farrah Fawcett-Majors) also gets a little “face” time as Holly, Doc’s assistant.

That’s actually a little harsh in this case. Honestly, despite the periodic WTF/crazy, these first three films have been very watchable and I expect this to continue through the next few BIYFs-worth of content. We hadn’t even really started figuring out what BIYF was/is at this point and there’s a fair amount of legitimately entertaining content in the playlist early on.

Run, Runner!
Run, Runner! Francis seems upset by some of Logan’s recent life choices…

The need for “palate cleansing” doesn’t really start to surface until a bit later when, under the guidance of our venerated Movie Czar (“He really has our best interests at heart.”), we begin to more clearly define what sorts of things will be our focus. This gradually emerging focus is also muddied during the next few BIYFs with the introduction of Movie Voting which I’ll no doubt get into in a later post.

Fish, and plankton...
“Let’s take our clothes off first, before they freeze on us.” Capital idea, Logan. Capital idea.

As for Logan’s Run, I’m going to have a tough time being critical of this one. Clearly parts of it are very much a product of its time and can seem naive or quaint when viewed from the vantage point of 2016. You can almost always find humor when you look at the distant past through the lens the present. Who doesn’t cringe and laugh at some (most) of the fashion choices they find in their old photos? But this film is so familiar to me, so still a part of my day-to-day lexicon that I don’t think I can judge it harshly or even fairly. It feels like home. A nostalgic Sanctuary, if you will.

Sanctuary? Nope, just some nice matte paintings & effects work that hold up pretty well, even to modern eyes. Plus old man Peter Ustinov with a lot of cats and presumably the E Plebneesta.

That’s probably something I’ll have to fight against a lot during this marathon, though. I’ve always been pretty good at putting myself in the right frame of mind for watching old film and TV. It’s a trait that’s served me well on my chronological re-watch of classic Doctor Who, for instance. It can be a tough slog if you don’t prepare yourself with the right mindset/expectations. In the case of sixties Doctor Who it’s a matter of steeling yourself for the leisurely, occasionally lethargic, pace and keeping in mind that it was all only meant to be viewed one time, 25 minutes at a time. With Logan’s Run I think it’s more a matter of being able to successfully look at it in context of the continuum of similar films. Some folks can handle that better than others.

Francis is really not taking this well.
Francis is one of those people that handles things poorly. He’s really not taking this well.

There’s a lot to unapologetically love in Logan’s Run, though. The visuals, the 70s aesthetics and mores, the way it kinda bridges the gap between films like Soylent Green and Star Wars, Jenny Agutter…  but there’s a fair amount of substance you can unpack as well. Check out John Kenneth Muir’s write-up for some of that. And if you think your secret Logan/Francis slash fiction is the pinnacle of that particular line of reasoning, you clearly haven’t given it enough thought.

Does not compute.
But those Thinking Machines had better beware! Taking a page from Captain Kirk’s book, Logan proceeds to confuse the computer to death. This scene also showcases some of the effects work using laser holography that helped the film earn its Special Achievement Academy Award.

Next up, BIYF steps off of the sun porch and makes a brief foray out into the real world. Until then, let me know your thoughts on Logan’s Run in the comments. Is it really our first “palate cleanser” or is it solidly “BIYF film” material? We know who wins out in the end, but who does Logan love more: Jessica or Francis? Is The Circuit a descendant of Tinder? Let us know below.

Dude, dude. We all know you grok Spock, but we need to be able to see Peter Ustinov’s face. There’s that’s better. Smiles, everyone. Smiles!

7 thoughts on “Logan’s Run (1976)”

  1. So many thoughts on this. First, well done! Great, great writing. I love your categorization of it as the first “palate cleanser”. First BIYF movie I had already seen (in the theater) and for me it holds up. I’ve even watched it a few times since, including with commentary.

    Have you read the book? It’s so different. More like Gas-s-s-s-s (not going to look up how many Ses are neeed for that) and/or Wild in the Streets. If that long-gestating remake ever happens I hope they look to the book for inspiration (but I doubt it).

    I loved the TV show as a kid but have hesitated to revisit it. Maybe that’s an appropriate BIYF XX idea.

    Total side note: if I’m ever in Dallas/Ft. Worth I’m totally seeking out that fountain.

    Also want to make sure you know the links are appreciated.

    1. Thank you! I feel like this post hit the sweet spot of what I will be shooting for in these “reviews” and the first three film posts probably run the gamut of what you can expect. At the least, I’m going to try to write stuff that I enjoy which, given the hivemind nature of things, will hopefully entertain others as well. We’ll see what happens. I’m sure it will continue to evolve.

      I’m pretty sure I picked up a vintage paperback version of the book long after the fact (along with some others like Martin Caidin’s Cyborg), but I don’t think I ever got around to reading it. I just mentioned to NOTE that I need to dig that out. Also, I ran across the paperback version of Zardoz on Amazon the other day and was sorely tempted. If I happen to spot a copy at a decent price…

      I’ve been eyeing the Logan’s Run TV series as well (also a childhood favorite) and have a line on getting a copy if needed. I also have the 1995 remake of the 1988 remake of Not of This Earth which stars Michael York if we want to work on an “alternate universe” BIYF theme at some point. Everything’s just a little off…

      And for example three of this week’s shared-brain theory, NOTE can confirm that part of my chatter during the film ran along the lines of “Ooo… I wonder if that building is still there? Hmm…”

      I’m loving a lot of those links as well. There’s four more chapters to that Logan/Francis one that I still need to go back and read at some point…

      1. There’s a book of Zardoz!?! Wow. I really want to read that. I keep meaning to stage a live reading of the introduction to the novel of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. If you haven’t read it, it is whack-a-doodle.

  2. (Bear with me on this one.)

    Years ago I received a DVD box set of the That’s Entertainment movies for Christmas. Since they’re all about the golden age of MGM it includes as a bonus feature a short promotional film the studio made in 1975 called “The Lion Roars Again”. It’s all about the “great” films MGM has in store as part of the resurgence it was planning at the time (which ended up not really taking place).

    So I’m watching this and one of the films promoted is Logan’s Run. All right! There’s a visit to the set, some talking heads (literally, in the case of the famous hologram effect, which is shown off), and a fashion show of some of the costumes. What caught my attention right away was that they show an alternate design that ended up being discarded. But then I was shocked and delighted once I realized the uniform was being modeled by an up-and-coming young actor–none other than David Hasselhoff!

    Bill probably knows this all already, but here’s the clip in question for anyone else interested (skip to the 2:00 mark for the Hoff):

    1. Very nice! It seems familiar, but I’m not sure if I have seen it (or all of it) before. They might also have repurposed some of it into the 1992 “MGM: When the Lion Roars” 3-night event hosted by Patrick Stewart that I watched (and recorded on VHS).

      It’s available on DVD, but unfortunately that’s not exactly the same version that originally aired (as pointed out by the first Amazon review). There might be a mediocre VHS-sourced original around somewhere, however…

      DVD version:

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