Logan's Run

Tagged: Film | TV

1. Film (1976). MGM/United Artists. Directed by Michael Anderson. Written by David Zelag Goodman, based on Logan's Run (1967) by William F Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Cast includes Jenny Agutter, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Richard Jordan, Peter Ustinov and Michael York. 118 minutes. Colour.

One of the largest, most "prestigious" sf films of the decade, this was also one of the most sluggish, reducing its lively source, Nolan's and Johnson's 1967 novel Logan's Run, to a bland affair whose lavishness is all decoration, no substance. Set in a domed City (see Weather Control) where no one is allowed to pass their thirtieth birthday – official killers, "Sandmen", disposing of those who refuse their ritual suicide – the film concerns a renegade Sandman and his girlfriend, who attempt to reach the legendary "Sanctuary" outside. But Sanctuary does not exist; instead they find a mildewed Washington, District of Columbia, inhabited by the only living old man. They decide that old age is a good thing and return to the dome to spread the news. During interrogation, the reformed Sandman confuses the city Computer to the point where it blows itself up, along with the city.

Logan's Run's youth autocracy exists in a conceptual vacuum and is riddled with contradiction, and the film's attack on its sterile Utopia is – typically of much patronizing sf cinema of the period – simplistic to the point of banality. There are livelier film versions of the theme, one being Gas-S-S-S (1970).

2. US tv series (1977-1978), based on the film. An MGM TV Production for CBS. Produced by Ben Roberts, Ivan Goff. Executive producer Leonard Katzman. Story editor D C Fontana. Writers included Fontana, Saul David, Harlan Ellison. Directors included Paul Krasny, Curtis Harrington. One season, 75-minute pilot plus 13 50-minute episodes. Colour.

The two men who created and produced the popular crime-busting programme Charlie's Angels – both admitted they knew nothing about sf – made this short-lived television series designed to exploit the film. For budgetary reasons the series was set outside the film's domed city. It concerns the adventures of Logan (Gregory Harrison), Jessica (Heather Menzies) and Rem (Donald Moffat), the latter – a comic Android with nonbiological components – having been hastily introduced to exploit the popularity of the two Robots in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). These three characters search for Sanctuary while pursued by deadly Sandmen from the city, moving from one Dystopian situation to another, all this portrayed at the level of comic-book stereotype. [JB/PN]

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