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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Post-Apocalyptic > Erotic > Logan’s Run (1976/Warner Blu-ray)

Logan’s Run (1976/Warner Blu-ray)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: B-     Film: B



Towards the end of the last great (and greatest) cycle of Science Fiction films, MGM tried to recapture the glory of 2001 with other projects and though matching that masterwork proved futile, they would re-release it while issuing other films in the genre.  Westworld (1973) was a big hit for them and Demon Seed (1977) was another good showing, but Logan’s Run was in development for a long time, then was lucky to be released before Star Wars (one summer before) to become a somewhat controversial hit.


Originally, highly successful genre producer George Pal was going to make it and he had great success with MGM including the hit 1960 version of The Time Machine, so that seemed like a match.  That sadly fell through, but the studio was still determined to make it and Saul David (the Derek Flint films, Fantastic Voyage) became the producer who finally pulled it off.  After several actors would almost take the lead roles (including Lindsay Wagner, who would become The Bionic Woman at the same time), Michael York would be the title character, a Sandman who was part of an elite group that killed Runners.


In 2274, everyone lives in a highly technologized set of domed cities where they do not have to work and enjoy any pleasure they want to anytime.  The only problem is that they must die at age 30 or “Renew” as it is called.  The Sandmen kill those who do not want to Renew, but there is something wrong here and Logan is about to find out what it is.  This awakening beings when he meets Jessica (Jenny Agutter of Walkabout) and when an unusual termination starts to interest his already unusually inquisitive mind.


Soon, the computer he reports to realizes he has an object that links him to that Runner and he is assigned to be on a secret mission to find where over a thousand runners disappeared to and kill them all.  However, he has other ideas in mind and a best friend in fellow Sandman Francis (Richard Jordan) who believes everything the city is all about.  Logan’s new mission will change all that too.


The film faced several criticisms when it was released.  Besides studio censorship, there was not a PG-13 rating, so to avoid an R-rating, nudity was cut back in a Science Fiction film that still holds the record for it.  With a mostly white cast, many were offended and comedian Richard Pryor made a classic joke about it stating that the makers did not think African Americans were going to “make it” into the 23rd Century.  The James Bond producers would respond to this in their huge hit Moonraker four years later.  Critics also did not like the acting, though I believe Director Michael Anderson (the original Around The World In 80 Days, Doc Savage (1975), Orca) was sincerely trying for a different acting style ala 2001 as people in the future would not act like it was the 1970s.  It did not help that critics were out to bash the late, great Farrah Fawcett-Majors, perfectly cast as the sex symbol of the time to sell a “perfect” world of future pleasure.  The sex connection also came with its own Science Fiction connection; the fact that she was still married in real life to The Six Million Dollar Man himself, Lee Majors, so the casting of her was brilliant in a cameo part as the sexy receptionist at The New You Shop.


Roscoe Lee Browne plays Box, a robot that looks like a cousin of Mrs. Butterworth made of mirrored metallic materials (or just mirrors) a year before James Earl Jones voiced Darth Vader.  Browne is also in the suit however, whereas Jones voiced Vader while David Prowse wore the outfit.  Michael Anderson Jr. plays the surgeon at the New You Shop, Lara Lindsay plays a key runner and is the voice of the Sandman computer, Gary Morgan is the head of The Cubs and Peter Ustinov (in a role Joe Bob Briggs hilariously credits for saving the film) shows up in the second half of it as a symbol of the truth, which will make more sense when you see the film.


A friend once pointed out that the sequences in the film kept surfacing in sections like a James Bond film and with that series a year away from a comeback, took advantage of its absence.  Though many of the special effects here are dated, this won an Academy Award for visual effects because of the first use of holograms in a feature film and they still look great in the climax of the film.  Lasers were also effectively used.  York and Agutter are a good match and David Zelag Goodman’s screenplay may not have made it onto the screen in tact as intended, this is more interesting film ideologically than expected and is an underrated work despite its flaws.


This is the mall look Science Fiction films helped make possible since its earliest days linked to World’s Fair visions of a bright clean future, which Kubrick’s 2001 reestablished and Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972) was a bit critical of.  Ridley Scott’s hit Alien (1979) and at-first non-hit Blade Runner (1982, a film whose comparisons to Logan’s Run were ironically one of the reasons it failed at the box office) offered the new darker vision of the future as the bright future look literally became the shopping mall.  Logan’s Run was even shot in a mall in Texas when elaborate malls were not so common.  No wonder George Romero picked a mall to shoot Dawn Of The Dead (1978) soon after.


Seeing the film again a few years later, its visions of a plastic world have come true two centuries early, but with a much angrier, vicious side and the idea of easy plastic surgery that seemed to futuristic only 33 years ago is sadly (and often dangerously) commonplace now.  It is also a pre-AIDS work and has a surprisingly mature vision of human sexuality for a commercial film you would not see in our mostly infantilized cinema today.  And the film has remained a favorite in cult status and beyond since.  It has also influenced dozens of films that wanted to be it from Parts – The Clonus Horror to Moonraker to (some extent) Blade Runner to Michael Bay’s The Island, which was found to be a remake of the former film.  Like it or not, Logan’s Run is a minor classic of the Science Fiction genre and though Star Wars would make it dated on a visual effects level (along with the 1976 King Kong, a hit later that year), it comes from a classic period of Sci-Fi and few film after have been as ambitious.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot on film, but there has always been confusion as to what film format it originated in.  The posters said Todd AO, but instead of being the groundbreaking 70mm format (with a 65mm negative) that helped put widescreen filmmaking on the map, this was actually shot in the still-great, anamorphic Todd AO 35mm format (used on some fine films at the time) and MGM did not bother to explain the difference on purpose.  That was especially bad as 70mm blow-up prints would never look as good as an actual Todd AO 65mm shoot, but this did not hurt the film at the box office.


Despite that, the scope composition on this film holds up extremely well and this transfer is far superior to the DVD that has been out for years, which was based on an older version from an older 12” LaserDisc.  An upgraded LaserDisc set was issued with a far better print not used on the DVD and I was hoping that would be the source for this Blu-ray.  It is not.  While the detail and depth are superior to even that edition, I noticed some color missing in some shots versus that print and the texture on the Sandman shirts are never as sharp, natural or clear as they should be.  You should be able to see the stitching more clearly, for instance.


Ernest Laszlo, A.S.C., was Director of Photography was a key artist in big screen filming with films as diverse as Stalag 17, Vera Cruz, Kiss Me Deadly and The Big Knife.  This was towards the end of his amazing career that was still making hits like Airport, Fantastic Voyage and It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World possible.  Considering all the visual effects he had to deal with here, likely the most in his career, this looks very good and only some of the visual effects hurt the presentation.


In cases of optical printing and some softer shots, Warner needs to consider striking a new print from the negative after cleaning that up and rematch the color (simpler but good-looking MetroColor at its best in this case) in the effects with the actual natural footage.  Note how good the neon in The New You Shop and Love Shop look, as well as how the best shots do not show their age.  This is a grade-A film shoot built to last and even has some demo moments all serious home theater and film fans should own.


The sound was an experimental Dolby System noise reduction film.  35mm prints got the old A-type analog noise reduction, but the 70mm blow-ups were the first to experiment with Dolby noise reduction on magnetic tracks.  It is the first of only two films (the other being A Star Is Born with Barbra Streisand later in 1976) that did this with what is known as the older Todd AO sound configuration for 70mm projection.  Unlike films like Star Wars or Superman – The Movie that follow what we think of as the current surround set-up, the Todd AO version since the 1950s had five of the six tracks behind the screen!


This means you get traveling dialogue and sound effects.  Warner has upgraded the sound to a surprisingly good Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track that annihilates the previous sound mixes (like the Dolby Digital versions offered here) with ease.  The film still shows its age sonically, yet there are some impressive moments of sound that will surprise many.  While traveling dialogue (especially in some scenes with York and Agutter that seem somewhat strained and compressed from problematic fold-down from five speakers to three) does not always work, some such scenes actually correct errors from previous upgrades.  Other sound effects sound really good, but the real sonic highlight is the great music score by the great Jerry Goldsmith.


Released a few years ago on a CD soundtrack release that finally did justice to the music (see below); it is an impressive recording by any standard, but especially for its age.  What the TrueHD does here that the Dolby Digital 5.1 from the DVD and even better PCM from the recent CD cannot do is present the music in amazing multi-channel playback that will stun soundtrack fans and audiophiles with its amazing dynamic range and articulation that will recall the best multi-channel DVD-Audio and SA-CD releases on the market.  It is so good that it actually exposes the limits of the other older sound, but the many sonic demo moments are yet another reason this is a must-own Blu-ray and there is little improvement for room here.


Extras include the original theatrical trailer, the classic vintage featurette A Look Into The 23rd Century and an exceptional feature length audio commentary track by York, Anderson and Costume Designer Bill Thomas we highly recommend after seeing the film.  Yes, there were a few more extras on the 12” LaserDisc set like American Cinematographer Magazine’s coverage of the film and another section telling us facts on censorship and lost footage from the film (The Love Shop sequence was more explicit, a Richard Nixon joke was dropped, another runner killed you can see in the trailer here was cut from the film, a nude sculpture of the co-stars was dropped for being too nude, etc.) are missing and the latter should have been included, but with a remake on the horizon, this film should be revisited.  For now, this is one of the best back-catalog Blu-rays issued to date with plenty of surprises for everyone.



For more on the music of Logan’s Run, you can read about the limited edition CD soundtrack at this link:





Instead of doing sequels to the film based on the two follow-up novels, MGM and CBS made a TV series, and though Warner has not issued it on DVD yet, a limited edition CD soundtrack was released of the show and you can read more about it at this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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