Friday, October 10, 2008

A BOY AND HIS DOG (L.Q. Jones, 1975, USA) The great character actor who starred in many Peckinpah films (THE WILD BUNCH, RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID to name a few), L.Q. Jones directs and adapts the Harlan Ellison short story and creates one of the most memorable science fiction films ever put to celluloid. Ellison’s bleak post-apocalyptic future pre-dates the Mad Max films and the influence is unmistakable. Jones wide-angle photography open up the desert landscapes and creates the sense of a desolate world; he is able to accomplish this stark diorama with few set designs and details. A young Don Johnson plays Vic, a dimwitted loner who is only concerned with getting laid while his intelligent companion Blood “sniffs” out the targets for his sexual needs: Blood is the dog who communicates telepathically with Vic and the two have formed a tight if rather confrontational friendship. But a beautiful girl soon leads Vic into a trap. She is from “downunder” and lures him to her underground city to be part of a scheme to overthrow the Committee. This Committee rules Topeka, a demented authoritarian society in white face makeup who sends dissenters to “The Farm” when they break the law. But they have another use for Vic: they need him to impregnate their young women! He finds out the hard way that it’s not going to be fun when they hook him up to a contraption to drain his semen! He escapes during the ensuing rebellion but doesn’t want any part of Topeka. The girl follows and he is reunited with his best friend Blood…but they have one last important decision before searching for “Over the Hill”. The film is condemned for being misogynistic but I believe it is more akin to misanthropy: the story does not treat humanity in any kind light. The most empathetic character is the quick-witted dog Blood who quotes Shakespeare, recites history, and is always the voice of reason. Ends with a tasty one-liner that you’ll never forget. (B)