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Superman's Pal

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,768
Subj: Logan's Run (1976)
Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 at 05:00:27 pm EST (Viewed 342 times)

Logan’s Run (1976)

I don’t know who MGM was trying to outdo with this movie, with lines like “MGM and producer Saul David have pushed beyond the limits of today’s film technology to create the first motion picture of the 23rd century.” We’d seen models, matte paintings, full-sized props and other effects before.

In the year 2274 the human race, or maybe what’s left of it, lives inside a giant domed city. No one knows what’s outside, no one is allowed to go. No one seems to work and every need is taken care of; food, medical care, recreation are all provided for. The only catch is that on your 30th birthday you must volunteer to be “renewed” in the Carrousel, an event where the unlucky birthday kids float up into the air and explode in a shower of sparks before an arena of cheering onlookers. It’s a celebration of life, as they expect to be reborn as the next generation of babies.

Logan 5 (Michael York) and his pal Francis 7 (Richard Jordan) are Sandmen, the only police force that is necessary. The only crime committed is running. People who turn 30 and decide not to renew will be taken to Carrousel forcibly or they will run, trying to escape the city. They can’t hide their true age because everyone has a life clock, a crystal embedded in the palm of their left hand that will start flashing a red light on their 30th birthday. When someone decides to run, the Sandmen give chase and kill them if necessary, as we see Logan and Francis do in the first act. Logan finds an Ankh symbol on the runner.

Logan and Francis visit the birthing center where new babies are born. Logan has donated some DNA so now he can see his offspring (Logan 6?) in a bassinet on the other side of the glass window. “Why would you want to see it?” Francis inquires. Parenting is just something that is not done anymore. People are born and die on a schedule run by the city’s computer to maintain the population.

Logan goes back to his apartment and orders himself up a bit of fun for the night. If you’re looking for sex, you can simply turn on the computer and see who’s online for a bit of fun. A girl named Jessica (Jenny Agutter) beams into his apartment but then seems hesitant to get romantic. Logan sees that she has an Ankh symbol on her necklace. They talk for a while and Logan is interested in her but she remains aloof.

Logan consults the city computer about the Ankh symbol he found. The computer tells him it’s a symbol of an organized group of Runners who want to escape the city and find Sanctuary, whatever that is. The computer orders Logan to find and destroy Sanctuary, and then orders Logan to place his life clock on a scanner device. Logan is shocked when he pulls his hand away and his clock is flashing red. “But I still have four years left!” he pleads. The computer sits silently. Logan’s mission is clear, he must now go on the run. He hides his hand lest he be captured by his fellow Sandmen. The computer also lets it slip that no one is actually renewed in Carrousel, only killed.

Logan finds Jessica and she agrees to help him escape. But they must hurry, because Francis has discovered Logan’s secret, and not knowing his secret mission, chases Logan as a runner with intent to kill him.

Logan and Jessica find a hidden door and the Ankh turns out to be a key. They escape through a series of water pipes, and an elevator that takes them out to the surface. Francis is right behind them. In an abandoned building they are attacked by Cubs, a bunch of homeless kids. They fight their way out and leave Francis locked in with the Cubs so they can get a head start.

Logan and Jessica make their way to a frozen tunnel where they find a shiny silver robot named Box. Box’s purpose is to store and freeze food for some future need. He says at some point the food stopped coming and people started coming so he just started freezing them. We see a long corridor where people are frozen inside the icy walls. Apparently, no runners have made it past Box yet. Logan and Jessica escape and somehow cause the cave to collapse, burying Box.

The two runners then find the outside world, a green paradise. They skinny-dip in a lake fed by a waterfall. Their life clocks are now crystal clear, free of the system. They walk through the green grasslands until they find a sight recognizable only to us in the audience: The Washington Monument. Next, they wander into the Lincoln Memorial, covered in ivy vines. Looking up at the sculpture of Abe Lincoln, they are confused by his appearance. “Is this what an old person looks like?” they wonder.

They make their way into a large building where they encounter an old man (Peter Ustinov) who lives with hundreds of cats. They are curious about his age, his wrinkles and grey hair. He says he was raised by his parents until they died. He doesn’t know much about life other than what’s right in front of him.

Francis suddenly shows up to attack Logan for his treachery. Logan tries to reason with him and explain his mission but Francis won’t listen. They fight and Francis is killed, dying in Logan’s arms.

Logan and Jessica decide to return to the city with the old man, to show people that there is another way to live. They can be free, they can grow old and they can raise their own children. They break back into the city and see a group about to enter Carrousel. They shout at them to stop, that renewal is a lie and to listen to them, but are ignored by the masses. They catch the attention of the Sandmen who capture them and take Logan back to the computer. The computer questions Logan about Sanctuary. Logan responds that there is no Sanctuary, the runners are all dead and the world is in ruins. The Computer doesn’t believe his answers so it hooks him up to a brain scanning device. When Logan’s memories feed into the computer it self-destructs, causing massive system failures around the city. Logan and Jessica escape in the chaos.

They meet the old man outside the city, and soon other masses of people begin emerging from the city dome. They all surround the old man with curiosity at his appearance. Perhaps humanity gets another chance.

This movie was okay, I always like seeing vintage special effects and retro-future ideas. I’m not such a fan of quest stories where the conclusion of the quest is that the thing they were looking for never existed so they just go back home. But life is about the journey, not the destination, right?

I’ve seen Michael York in many things, from Island of Dr. Moreau to Austin Powers. He’s good as a somewhat smug, hedonistic Sandman but can also transform into a likeable, naïve explorer. Jenny Agutter I mostly remember from An American Werewolf in London and she is good here. Richard Jordan I couldn’t place, I know I’ve seen him in things but I couldn’t remember where. Suddenly it dawned on me, he’s the guy at the end of Hunt For Red October who says “don’t tell me you lost another one!” Ustinov is really good as the clueless old man. I recognize his name but I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything else.

This movie is based on the novel of the same name, co-written by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Nolan went on to write two more novels about Logan leaving Earth for a space colony and then coming back to save more people, and then going to an alternate reality to fix things there too. Johnson was working on his own follow-up, “Jessica’s Run” but it was not finished at the time of his death.

A sequel television series was produced by CBS for one season of 14 episodes. It used some shots from the movie of the city but was mostly about Logan and Jessica running around the world looking for Sanctuary with Francis chasing them.

A Marvel Comics adaption of the movie continued on past the events of the film to continue the story as well, but only lasted 7 issues.

Another comic book adaption by Malibu was based on the original novel instead of the movie.

Nolan returned to work on some new comic stories from TidalWave Productions continuing the stories even further.

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