"Logan's Run" (Michael Anderson, 1976) "Logan" is a movie I'd like to have been a part of. There are so many steps where someone should have taken Saul David, Michael Anderson, or David Zelag Goodman by the hand with a warm glass of milk and a cookie and explain to them that what they wanted to do wouldn't work, and that the slip-shod way they were planning to realize it wasn't going to help it, either.
Mind you, there are some things I like. The Jerry Goldsmith score (what, I'm going to desert Goldsmith now? Herrmann's dead and Barry's comatose!)* Jenny Agutter is in it, and provides some moments of acting that actually seem natural in this spectacle of the unnatural (unnatural matte shots, etc.) (Why, in God's name has it taken Jenny Agutter five years since her last movie to appear in another one? The insight and wisdom displayed in her performances in "The Railway Children," and in Roeg's "Walkabout" should have made her much more in demand, since she is undoubtedly the best young actress since Pamela Franklin--and have you seen what's she's been in lately?)** Peter Ustinov comes in and says his lines like he just thought them up, and makes Michael York et al. look like The Reader's Theater.
The film brightens up a bit once York and Agutter reach outside, not only because we, the audience, are on familiar ground, but also because we're out of those God-awful sets.
A friend of mine who's read the book says that book and movie have only the title in common. It's too bad that this should be such a turkey. I remember Bruce Dern's plaintive cry in "Silent Running"--"What happened to the flowers?" Walking out (of "Logan's Run"), echoed in my mind "What happened to the $8 million?" Sleazy matte shots. Cruddy model shots. And from the company that put "2001" together.*** It has been said that we are about to be engulfed by a resurgence of sci-fi movies, their popularity expanding in the fifties, and then dwindling out to be revived when someone came out with a new special effect technique. Now, unfortunately, it looks like "Logan" predicts a resurgence of '50's technique. What happened to Magicam that was supposed to be so revolutionary? Is everything being used on the "Star Trek" film?****
But, lest it be mistaken that I am concerned only with special effects, let me say that "Special effects are worthless unless the ideas presented are special, as well!"***** Or else we get things like "Space: 1999" which looks gorgeous, but its scripts have the consistency (and intelligence) of tapioca pudding.****** (I'm writing this in a camper-pickup truck bouncing over Wyoming's dirt roads). We must have intelligent writing! (and I'm not helping!)
Ah, youth. Pretty bad and squirrely writing here, even for the back of a pick-up truck, but my sentiments about "Logan's Run" haven't changed a jot. The sets are cheesey (although setting the city in a mall was a particularly good idea--we'll probably all live in hermetically-sealed malls in the future), the effects are bad--the city-scape miniatures wouldn't pass Gerry Anderson muster--and the story is fairly trashed.
However, the stupidest decision by the producers to make the central theme of the book-- the lottery for "renewal" (that is, not killing everyone who turns 30--it's 21 in the book)-- a spectator sport. You'd think that after weekly events that destroy every participant that one of these young people would come to the conclusion that NOBODY ever got renewed. I don't care how self-absorbed or de-sensitized or drugged-out they are, someone would notice.
They're working on a remake now, which is perfect for a youth-dominated market of kids barely out of their teens, while, in the meantime, the film had an unofficial distillation of themes in Michael Bay's "The Island."
* I've written about Goldsmith here. Bernard Herrmann had recently died (his last released score--for DePalma's "Obsession" would be released a scant two weeks away. John Barry was not comatose--I was being facetious--but he had relaxed his style to a slow dirge pace orchestrated for a massive number of strings.
**I wrote this when I was 21. All I can say in my defense is I had the "hots" for Jenny Agutter, so I was partial. I think it was because she didn't mind doing nude scenes. There wasn't five years between movies--I just hadn't seen them--and she continues to act occassionally--she played the mother in a remake of "The Railway Children," and had a role in the excellent "Mi-5" series (aka "Spooks"). Pamela Franklin had just appeared in "The Legend of Hell House."
*** The distributor has nothing to do with it, kid. It's the producer and the director and the design team.
**** The plight of the science-fiction film would be resolved (or made worse, depending on your view) the next year with the release of "Star Wars" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." The success of these films kick-started the on-again/off-again "Star Trek" film and its reultant film series. It is now being re-vamped, with a new cast, and a new version of "Logan's Run" is being prepped.
***** This was bolded in big block letters. The sentiment is still good (if obvious anywhere except Hollywood), but, really, there's no need to shout!
******What's wrong with tapioca pudding?!