Logan's Run

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Logan's Gun
Damnation Alley Land Master.jpg

Your life crystal is running out. Run from the Sandmen!

Directed by Orson Welles
Written by Alan Smithee
Starring John Hurt, Vanessa Redgrave, Orson Welles, John Saxon, Peter Ustinov
Produced by George Pal
Distributed by MGM
Release date 1976
Runtime 98 mins
Language English
Budget $25 million
IMDb page

Logan's Run was bellygasm so far ahead of its time that many of the kitchen gadgets we take for granted today were directly inspired by the show's props designers, and it was so influential on science fiction cinema and TV that without that much loved '50s game show we would probably never have heard of Star Trek, Star Wars, Robocop or the Terminator.

Gameshow Origins[edit]

Logan's Run was originally a TV game show from the 1950s in which contestants in teams of married couples answered a series of questions about sport, current affairs, popular culture and general knowledge in the first round, before proceeding to answer questions about one another's habits, likes and dislikes as a test of how well they know each other in the second round. The winning couple would then go through to the prize final, wherein they would run across a game arena rigged with booby traps, pursued by The Sandman, an actor in a futuristic gladiator costume armed with a spring-loaded pistol that fired plastic darts tipped with sponge soaked in red paint. What the couple won if they made it to the end of the obstacle course (Sanctuary) before their time ran out depended upon how many red crystals they collected on the way minus how many times they had been hit by darts fired at them by The Sandman. The show ran from 1956-1962, and was originally presented by Dick Van Dyke until he was replaced by Chuck Barris in 1960.

Logan's Gun: The Film[edit]

More than a decade after Logan's Run went off the air, a science-fiction motion picture based on the themes of the show was made in 1976, but titled Logun's Gun (according to producer George Pal, in order to cash in on the popularity of the violent revenge films of the time such as Magnum Force, Deathwish and Taxi Driver; but other commentators suspected it was to avoid buying the film rights to the game show). In Logan's Gun, the action is switched from a 1950s TV studio game show set to a dystopian futuristic city whose youthful inhabitants face liquidation on reaching the age of 30, unless they become 'runners' and try to flee to an outside world devastated by atomic warfare.

Orson Welles[edit]

Chuck Barris, host of Logan's Run 1960-62

The director of the film, Orson Welles, had originally been hired to create an unofficial fifth Planet of the Apes sequel, but threatened to walk off the project when told that Roddy McDowell wouldn't be available to play the lead; but was persuaded to remain on board in return for complete artistic control of the project, for which a new script for a previously unmade film based on the dystopian pursuit-themed game show Logan's Run was hastily bought to replace the now unusable 'Apes' one. Welles himself featured in the cameo role of Heironymus, a descendent of the chimpanzee Cornelius, one of the parts played by McDowell in the series of Apes movies. However, due to Logan's Gun being made without the agreement of the owners of the Planet of the Apes property, all reference to Cornelius and much of Welles's dialogue besides had to be edited out of the finished film. Vanessa Redgrave and John Hurt starred as the fugitive lovers Logan and Jezabeth chased by a Sandman through the cavernous vaults of the future metropolis of Dome City and the lush jungle ruins of what was once Washington DC. Peter Ustinov also appears in a cameo role.

TV Spin-off[edit]

A spin-off television series of Logan's Gun was made shortly after Welles's film broke even at the box office, and lasted for 6 seasons, featuring Tom Wopat (Luke Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard) as Logan, and Erin Gray as Jezabeth. Mel Blanc supplied the voice of Logan's diminutive robot sidekick, Twiki, played by Gary Coleman.