Thursday, October 18, 2012

Discuss: Logan's Run

Doug:  All things Logan's Run -- the film, the television spin-off, the Marvel Comic, Jenny Agutter...  Wait, did I mention Farrah Fawcett?  Shoot -- we could have the ol' "Mary Ann/Ginger debate" here, too! And while you're at it today, check out two previous BAB posts on Logan's Run -- a 5 Films to Love and a Battle of the Sci-Fi Flicks -- the '70's!


Anonymous said...

I will generally strive to defend Gulacy against people saying he’s a bargain basement Steranko, but that cover is really not helping me!

I remember enjoying the TV series, although it seemed completely bonkers to me at the time. It seemed to involve EVERYTHING: time travel, robots, love triangles, aliens, mind control, cloning, cryogenics, false identities, memory tampering, and the afterlife. I can’t believe it only lasted one series, because it seemed to start at the same shark-jumping point that other series finish up after about ten series. I don’t remember anyone jumping into another dimension, but that was about the only stone left unturned.

It seemed incredibly similar to the Fantastic Journey, which I believe was made by the mostly the same writers & producers, but I think, because that was based around multiple time zones and the Bermuda Triangle, that whole ‘anything can happen’ vibe made a lot more sense in FJ.


Edo Bosnar said...

I'll get rid of the mouth-breathing stuff right off the bat regarding Jenny Agutter vs. Farah Fawcett. Jenny Agutter, by a very long shot.
Otherwise, I recall watching the TV series pretty regularly, but I now I don't really recall what any of them were about - I guess it just didn't click anything in me, unlike a lot of shows from around that same period that I remember pretty vividly to this day.
As for Marvel's comic adaptation, I didn't even know it existed until I saw scans of it posted on joe bloke's "Grantbridge Street" blog some years ago. I then tracked down and bought all of the back issues, and liked them so much that I had the series bound. The movie adaptation issues, with art by Perez and Janson, are fantastic, but even the follow-up issues are pretty good. They showed a great deal of promise, and it's unfortunate that the series didn't go on for at least a few more issues (so it doesn't end on a cliffhanger).
By the way Richard, you're right about Gulacy's cover. I recall that when I was searching for the back issues, one online comic site actually had "Steranko cover art" written in the description to that issue.

david_b said...

I prompted Doug on this by glancing at his profile and noticing a simiiar interest.

First, the movie..: I recall it fondly because it was one of the first 'mature' movies I could go to see by myself (after 'The Entertainer' and 'Live and Let Die' in '73..). The effects were on-par with most sci-fi back then, which isn't saying they were 'outstanding', but they certainly didn't draw too much attention to itself (like 2001 before it..). I know the miniature city monorail system (big at the time due to Disney's innovation) hasn't really aged well, but it's not too offensively noticeable (it sort of dates the film in a sense).

Having not read the book until after, the movie seems to work well, as a futuristic action/chase film (also common at the time). The overall pacing was good, Michael York was PERFECT as Logan, a somewhat reluctant action hero, first playing the role of objector to gain Jessica’s confidence, then having the tables turned on him. Apparently William Devane (fresh from playing JFK ‘Missiles of October’, an AWESOME CBS television play) was going to play Francis, but instead was played extremely tense by Richard Jordan. It’s the ratcheted tension between York and Jordan that really sell the ‘cop-on-the-run’ conflict’ here, a bright spot of the movie.

Apparently a lot of leading ladies were up for Jessica, to include Lindsay Wagner, but she would have been way TOO American for the role. Ms Agutter did a splendid job, underplaying her role, and yes I enjoyed her quick flash under the bearskins. Quite provocative for a 13yr old back then, let me tell you. Unfortunately after the first few scenes in the City with York, she didn’t add much to the film other than playing ‘the damsel companion’, but she did serve to softened Logan as they journeyed to DC and dutifully remain as story eye-candy. As mentioned earlier, both York and Jordan brought a good sense of testosterone and screen presence to the movie ensemble, suitably lifting it up from an overall weak screenplay. I found the ending hard to swallow, that a few laser blasts could topple the entire computer system, but hey, it’s an ending.

Second the television series..: As did most in the sci-fi community, I was excited with its announcement because, yes, ‘it was all we had’.. POTA had it’s stint on TV, and we were to begin the 2nd yr of 1999 (never watched ‘Fantastic Journey’..). It looked like a good cast but shark-jumping..? It happened in the first half-hour of the premiere, when Logan and Jessica had the nighttime scene where they weren’t going to be lovers, instead brother & sister. That ruined a lot of potential for suspense and tension from there on in.. Donald Moffat offered a nice balance as REM, playing a Spock to Logan’s Kirk, once again creating a classic Trek threesome (see DC Fontana as a story editor, and the likes of David Gerrold writing scripts, no surprise there..). I watched the series when possible, but was fairly disappointed; I do recall the hover craft idea being a direct result of ‘Star Wars’, but on a television budget. I felt the television series was a mistake..; as I mentioned on an earlier post, MGM should have went for a 2nd Logan movie for more name/concept recognition prior to approving a TV series. Most folks at the time complained they didn’t really understand who Logan was and why he was running.

From what I’ve seen of the comics, Perez did an awesome job drawing the book. I’m typically not into television/movie adaptations in comics, but it did showcase some great early Perez. I read ‘Logan’s World’, but it didn’t seem all that memorable. Apparently there were mock-ups for planned Mego figures based on the television series, but the weak ratings didn’t excite toy makers much.

Matthew Bradley said...

Doug, I find it interesting that among the various manifestations of LOGAN'S RUN you cite, there is no mention of the original 1967 novel by William F. Nolan (who wrote several sequels) and George Clayton Johnson, both members of the so-called Southern California School of Writers. The novel is, not surprisingly, much more hard-edged than the colorful confection MGM produced in 1976.

I had the honor of interviewing both authors for FILMFAX years ago, and both were disappointed by the film to one degree or another. They were particularly vexed by the fact that a writer was chosen who had no background in SF (David Zelag Goodman), and by what they considered some major lapses of logic in the film.

As a 13-year-old, I had not yet read the book when the film came out and, predictably, thought it was pretty cool. I've had a major thing for Jenny Agutter ever since WALKABOUT, so although I fell into Farrah-worshipping mode soon afterward like everybody else, it is Agutter who remains a major asset to the film when I revisit it.

One thing that I know really rankled Bill Nolan in particular was that there was no such thing as Carousel in the book. There, people voluntarily went to "Sleep Shops" to die in comfort, but since MGM had ripped off that idea for their earlier film, SOYLENT GREEN, they had to come up with something else for LOGAN'S RUN.

Much as I enjoyed the film at the time, I'm pretty sure I shunned the TV series, convinced that it would suck, and its quick cancellation would seem to have vindicated my decision. I don't believe I watched a single episode.

As a Marvel Maniac, I did buy the comic book, or at least the adaptation of the film, which I haven't read for decades. I don't think I went any further than that, but recall the Perez art as being quite sumptuous, as always.

Doug said...

Well Matthew -- the first line does say "All things Logan's Run"...


Matthew Bradley said...

Hah! True enough. It just seems that the novel has been eclipsed by all of the other incarnations.

david_b said...

I don't recall where in TX, but the Dome City scenes were actually filmed in a newly-built futuristic shopping mall.

If anyone can recall, let me know. I believe the article in Starlog #2 mentions it (as does the vintage 'making of' documentary..), but I don't have it handy here at work.

As for my 'laser blast ending' lament, I suppose if you think about it, a few laser blasts to a national power grid site nowadays could severely cripple a major city like LA or NY, so I guess it's plausable, but still very weak.

Totally agreeing with Matthew about the MGM 'confection', but MGM not choosing a scifi writer doesn't surprise me. Aside from instilling the scifi concepts, when it comes down to major studio investments, you need someone experienced to deliver a solid action/suspenseful script, not a Ben Bova or the like.

But agreed, the resulting MGM screenplay was still eye-candy over substance.

Dougie said...

As a young teen on 77-78, I was mesmerised by the books and their "spicy" material. Obviously a satire on the Counter-culture, the hallucinogenic prose had a big impact on me. And on Chris Claremont. apparently, since he ripped off the "stormroom" torture scene from Logan's World for the final published issue of Ms. Marvel.

I prefer Perez's adaptation of the movie to the real thing.
I watched the tv series avidly and had the tie-in hardback annual but it was formulaic and innocuous stuff. Actually I enjoyed "Fantastic Journey" more because of the ensemble cast including, of course, the fantabulosa Roddy McDowell.

david_b said...

Funny sidenote here regarding the movie...:

A few years back, my wife and I hosted a 20something German couple who moved to Milwaukee to complete their Masters and Doctorate degrees in Mathematics. When they finally found an apartment near campus, I lent the guy my Logan DVD, and a few weeks later he returned it to me.

"Yes I watched it. It was good, but it was SO OLD.."

I replied back, "Yes, I know, SO AM I..!?!"

Too funny.

Karen said...

The film had an immediate impact on me when I saw it. So immediate that my friend and I got thrown out of the mall we saw it in, because we began chasing each other and yelling, "Runner!" A security guard promptly took us outside and told us not to come back.

It does seem dated now when I watch it but I still find it enjoyable. I read the novel after I saw it and there were many, many differences (I believe the age limit was 21 and not 30, for example)but the gist was the same. I know I caught at least a few episodes of the TV show but I can't recall anything about it.

I still really dig the interrogation scene from the film, with the pulsing synth music. "There"

david_b said...

Matthew, I find a lot of memorable movies have the same effect on original novels.

POTA comes to mind, no one ever discusses Pierre Boulle's original novel and how different it is from the 20th Century movie.

Matthew Bradley said...

Karen, you're absolutely right about them upping the age limit by a decade in the movie. MGM was apparently afraid they wouldn't be able to find good enough actors at that age to play the lead roles.

david_b, the futuristic locations were in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, including the Fort Worth Water Gardens and Dallas Market Center. The IMDb has a pretty extensive list, BTW.

Matthew Bradley said...

And how freaky is it that Boulle authored both PLANET OF THE APES and THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI?!

Kal said...

I have such a love for this movie. It was one of those ones that we waiting weeks to see after seeing the poster on our way to school every morning. I would stop and check if the case was opened so I could just steal the poster. I lived on a military base as a kid and they would often play a movie again as a matinee feature months after first showing it. It was a close to having a video of the film that we had back then. You forget that most people only saw a movie once in the theatre then maybe on TV if it showed up there. Why hasn't anyone talked about Boxx yet?? That VOICE! He was a junky ass robot but he scared the crap out of me. The Congress set is also pretty spectacular. This one only gets better with age.

Matthew Bradley said...

Yeah, that was Roscoe Lee Browne, seen as the flower dealer in Hitchcock's TOPAZ and heard as the voice of the Kingpin on the old SPIDER-MAN Fox cartoon.

Chuck Wells said...

A good flick that hasn't been marred by a remake (at least yet) and the always "yummy-to-the-max" Jenny Agutter!

Edo Bosnar said...

I've been wanting to read the original novel- and its two sequels for quite some time now, but they're really hard to find cheaply online. As to the change in the cut-off age to 30 in the movie, I think it actually makes sense; 21 seems a bit too young.

Karen said...

I can only recall fragments of the novel, but two things I do remember:

1) Logan having to slice a real pound of flesh from Jessica's thigh while being held captive by the cubs. That was particularly gruesome.

2) Some part of the book took place around the uncompleted Crazy Horse memorial in the Black Hills. Maybe it was complete in the book -I can't recall. It did get me to go look it up, and this was back in the days before Google, so that meant the library!

Inkstained Wretch said...

The thing that immediately comes to mind regarding Logan's Run is a Richard Pryor joke/pungent observation: The film is set in a future where there are apparently no black people. "They ain't expecting us to be around!"

The other thing comes from my inner naughty adolescent: Logan's Run represents the apparent high point in film history of allowable nudity in a PG-rated film. Truly, they ain't making the like they used to!

Anonymous said...

I always think of this film, along with a few others like the King Kong remake, as the last of the old school sci fi movies that appeared before Star Wars came along and rewrote the book completely. I didn't see it when it was first released, but when I did, those opening city domes shot looked so clunky compared to what came after.

As for Farrah/Jenny....Jenny of course, but hey, let us not forget Heather Menzies in the TV show was pretty easy on the eye as well!

B Smith

Garett said...

Jenny and Farrah, both please! I love this movie--haven't seen the tv show, liked the Perez comic.

It seems very Bronze Age, with a mix of action, some ideas, and wackiness like the robot. Certainly more serious tone than Buck Rogers, more similar to Planet of the Apes.

Sexy! The outfits, the dating system where someone transports right into your apartment, the nightclub/orgy they run through (can't remember its name), Jenny's scene in the cave, swimming.

Interesting how the film totally changes pace outside the city--Peter Ustinov saves it with a great character and performance. The visuals as they approach the overgrown-with-foliage government building are impressive.

The actor playing Francis has some charisma, good choice. York is a good hero--yes he does seem somewhat physically slight.

The Carousel scene seemed tedious when I watched it again a few years ago, but it's good idea-wise. I'd like to see more future films like this, attempting to say something about society, without being too heavy about it--still entertaining. At this point I'd much rather pop in Logan's Run or Planet of the Apes than Star Wars.

Rip Jagger said...

I saw the movie the theater. I bought all the comics. I really liked this story at the time.

It was sci-fi when sci-fi was relatively rare in the movie houses. And it featured Jenny Agutter, who was and still is a serious hottie.

Then came Star Wars and the look and feel of sci-fi changed and Logan's Run seemed out of step. I came to disregard it for years, but more recently nostalgic charm has really warmed me to this overly slick, but still entertaining movie adventure.

Rip Off

Edo Bosnar said...

By the way, Doug, you mentioned in the original post regarding Agutter/Fawcett that it could spark a "Mary Ann/Ginger" debate. Of the two, who precisely would be the sweet, girl-next-door Mary Ann type? Famed glamor girl Farah? Or Agutter? I'm not seeing it...

david_b said...

Edo, I'm pretty sure Jenny would be the 'Mary Ann' in this case, and would grab my vote instantly.

Rip, you're absolutely spot on regarding the pre-SW feel of Logan. It was indeed in the vein of 'Silent Running', '2001', and other brave films before SW made the SciFi genre profitable again.

Which brings into mind a shout out to my fav Star Trek-TMP, which harkens back the serious pre-SW films and embraced a more adventurous story than just space dog-fights.

Doug said...

Edo --

I didn't necessarily have either woman "tagged" as a Mary Ann or Ginger, but if I had to say, and keeping the image of Jenny Agutter in that nurse outfit from "American Werewolf" I'd place her as Mary Ann.

Either way, I'm a Jenny guy.


PS: and a Mary Ann guy.

david_b said...


Oh, I've got a doozer of a story about Ms. Wells, regarding her love life she shared with me in Detroit.

To maintain her discretion, I prefer not to share on the 'net, but I will say this, folks..:

'One LUCKY guy has the GREATEST bragging rights EVER..'

(I will say no more..)

Doug said...

David --

Well, if she shared her love life WITH YOU, then I guess you would be that lucky guy, hmmm?

However, you could have chosen a more romantic getaway than Detroit, ya think?

Facetious Doug

david_b said...

No, silly boy..

In midst the conversation at my 1st ComicCon visit in Detroit, she mentioned dating a man in uniform in DC. HE would have the greatest braggin' rights, in my humble opinion.

For the record, I will state here that she remains as LOVELY, entertaining and enchanting as ever.

Unknown said...

I loved this movie, flaws of logic notwithstanding. It really is a great time-capsule of SF film style in the 70's before Star Wars changed everything. It's always interesting visually, has a great cast, and brings back great memories.

Granted, I haven't read the novels, but the whole Carousel ritual seems like a much better idea for film than having everyone shuffling off to sleep shops. Films are a visual medium after all, and Carousel really worked well visually. So did Jenny Agutter.

I was a fan of the comics, too. That Gulacy cover fills me with warm memories of mid-70's Marvel. I think this was one of the first series where I saw Perez' art. I remember buying Deadly Hands of Kung Fu for his art in Sons of the Tiger, but Logan couldn't have come too far after it.

I followed the TV show religiously, and remember almost nothing from it.

Amateurs blast computers with lasers. Professionals talk the computers into blowing themselves up.

James Chatterton
(currently working in IT, ironically enough)

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