03 July 2016

Don't be fooled by the Ankh that she's got, she's still Jenny in Half a Frock (Review: 'Logan's Run', 1976)

Jenny Agutter, to me, is Sister Julienne in Call the Midwife. I'm somewhat surprised she's only 63, because it seems like she's been a part of British media for longer than I can remember, most notably in The Railway Children.

So, watching Logan's Run via Amazon Video, it was a bit of a surprise to see her as a twenty something starlet... in an outfit less Call the Midwife and more Call the Cardic Nurse, Stat!

Anyway, more on that later.

Logan's Run is loosely based on the 1967 novel of the same name by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, albeit with some heavy changes.

In the year 2274, the remnants of humanity live hedonistic lifestyles in a sealed city run by a computer. It's a idyllic life if you like free love... but the drawback is that you die at 30; either by vaporisation in a strange ritual or if you try to run, via the Sandmen, the city's human law enforcement.

When one runner, Logan-5, hears of a rumoured safe home for runners 'called' Sanctuary via a woman called Jessica-6, the computer assigns him to find it and destroy it, making him a Runner as well in the process...

This review contains some spoilers.

I'm going to start this review in depth by making a comment on the BBFC's way they reclassify old movies... or indeed how they first classified this one. This was rated A, meaning that children over 5 were admitted but it wasn't recommended for under 14s. When the current system came in, it was rated PG...which today means that children under 8 could be brought into see it with a parent present.

This is a movie that features a fair bit of sexualised nudity, especially when Logan and Jessica are escaping through a place that seems to be where one goes to have a spot of 'Orgy-Porgy' to quote the classic dystopian work Brave New World. How on Earth was this not rated 15?!

The lead role of Logan is played by Michael York, who sadly doesn't really elevate the character much beyond a generic square-jawed 'hero' - he does very little of any moral ambiguity; he merely taunts a Runner early in the film with his comrade, later sent to find him, actually doing the killing. If he had been more 'evil' then the story would have worked better. York has worked consistently since 1976, but has very little of major note except for playing Basil Exposition in the Austin Powers series.

If this film was being remade today (in fact, a remake is at script stage), the role of Jessica would probably go to someone like Keira Knightley, a posh upper class pretty lady... with a penchant for gratuitous disrobing. A quick glance at the IMDB discussion forums - aka Perving Central (seriously, any discussion forum on any female actor of note will likely include discussions on her sexual attractiveness) - has given me the distinct impression that Jenny Agutter had a reputation for getting her kit off back in the 1970s... as far a cry from Sister Julienne as you can imagine.

Anyway, Agutter does the job of being a haughty sidekick and love interest well... with the kit indeed coming off. Her barely there dress gets ripped and ends up wet as well, which would have been sure to please the teenage boys in the audience - not to mention a couple of nude scenes. Again; how on Earth was this not rated 15?!

Pride of place in an mostly forgettable supporting cast - bar the late Farrah Fawcett, then credited as Farrah Fawcett-Majors as she was married to Lee Majors, as a beauty shop technician - is Peter Ustinov, whose long and distinguished career saw him gain a large number of awards and a knighthood, being known for playing Hercule Poirot six times around this period. Here he plays a reclusive old man who has set up shop in the former US Senate Chamber with a large array of cats - don't say that's an improvement. Agutter and York, Agutter in particular, do a great job of playing complete and utter surprise at seeing someone with grey hair.

Second place goes to Roscoe Lee Browne, a black actor known for avoiding stereotypical black roles and a deeply eloquent voice, as a robot with a rather interesting method of acquiring fresh stock for his larder.

Logan's Run looks very 1970s and this shows in many of the effects that wouldn't generally stand up today; remember Star Wars had yet to arrive. This said, there's some quality model work here - something that I like in contrast to CGI as it requires more care... and blows up better.

There's an interesting story here, but I feel that far more could have been made of it. The climax, in which the whole city collapses because of an error someone made in the initial stages of building the thing, is really quite ridiculous to me; I've seen stuff like this in Doctor Who, but generally more convincingly.


A good film, but very much of its time and its age is showing. Points also docked for the rather silly ending.


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