249. Logan's Run (US 1976)

Director: Michael Anderson

Starring: Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Peter Ustinov, Farrah Fawcett

Cinematography: Ernest Laszlo

Music: Jerry Goldsmith

Screenplay: David Zelag Goodman

Novel: William F. Nolan, George Clayton Johnson

FACT: The first film made in Dolby ('Dubbly') Stereo.

LIE: Michael York killed Simon McCorkindale after a life or death struggle to become the last remaining Michael York in existence. He later set up The Manimal Foundation to assuage his guilt.

In one line: In yet another futuristic dystopia, the inhabitants of a domed city are killed at the age of 30.

Logan 5 (York) is a Sandman in a 23rd century domed city. His job is to terminate 'Runners' - those citizens who are trying to escape enforced euthanasia on their 30th birthday.

Logan is given a task: he must infiltrate the Runners' secret organisation and discover the location of 'Sanctuary'. Every citizen of the dome has a tiny coloured disc on their hands. The colour of the disc indicates the amount of life they have left. Logan is bumped up to 'flashing red' (the penultimate stage of life before 'black') in order to infiltrate the Runners' organisation. When Logan questions the controlling computer and asks if he is to be given his missing years back, the computer refuses to answer and so Logan becomes a Runner for real.

Aided by the attractive Jessica (Agutter) and pursued by fellow Sandman Francis, Logan escapes the dome and finds a world of forests, streams and the remains of ancient Earth. They meet an old man (Ustinov) and find that their 'Lifeclocks' have become clear.

Logan and Jessica re-enter the city to inform the citizens of all they have seen and learned.....

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A strange, dated and often plain awful film, Logan's Run, nevertheless, has lots to commend it.

Michael York is an odd leading man: squashy nosed, gryphon-like and peculiarly English, he seems a strange casting choice in what is essentially the Washington of the future. Agutter, too, is another strange choice - middle class, aloof and not a particularly good actress, her one redeeming feature lies in her willingness to get 'them' out for 'the lads'. She doesn't disappoint here.

                                    "Jessica - there's a couple of points I'd like to discuss....

Some of the seventies-ness is beyond the toleration zone in this film - the fashions are hideous, the sets are tacky, and powerful android 'Box' (played by the excellent Roscoe Lee-Browne - see also The Cowboys) is a terrible construction of cheap plastic and mirror paint, and looks like a particularly nasty, lead-poisoning-waiting-to-happen, Made-in-China toy found in a down-at-heel newsagent's.

Director Anderson was making films in the forties and is best known for stiff upper lip black and white British war films such as The Dam Busters and The Yangtse Incident. He too, is a strange choice to 'helm' 'The Run'.

Despite the services of ace cinematographer Laszlo, the cinematography is nothing special, and the special effects and model making employed in the film are, frankly, shit.

Worst of all, though, is Peter Ustinov as Old Man. Considering he was such an alleged mega-talent, apart from his performance in Spartacus, I can't think of anything he ever did that wasn't just terrible. I seem to remember him telling interminable celebrity anecdotes on Parkinson (the subtext of all of them being Aren't I Clever? ME! ME! ME!') and showing off as a show-off version of Poirot in some celebrity-by-numbers Lew Grade-financed garbage. His performance as Old Man in Logan's Run is genuinely the worst performance of any actor featured on this web site and reminds me of either a small child pretending to be an 'old man' in a school drama class or a really piss-poor impressionist 'doing' habitual frontier cowboy actor Andy Devine.

 In the 23rd Century, wearing drawers is punishable by death.....

So why is it on the list? Well, pretty much all dystopia movies are great; there's a splendid, 'other-worldly' quality to the film that's largely been acquired by distance and time; the bonus-ball feature of Jenny's bare b'zooms (2.45 on a Saturday afternoon last time on BBC 2! Huzzah!) and the genuine weirdness of the floating bodies awaiting death in the 'Carousel' all make for a memorable, if somewhat crappy piece of 70s sci-fi.

A film that is definitely better than the sum of its parts.

6/10