A Boy and His Dog (1975)

Article 3821 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-20-2012
Posting Date: 1-30-2012
Directed by L.Q. Jones
Featuring Don Johnson, Susanne Benton, Jason Robards
Country: USA
What it is: Science fiction satire

It’s after the apocalypse. A young man roams the wasteland with his telepathic dog; he finds food for the dog, and the dog finds girls for him. However, there’s an underground society that has been watching the boy who they want for their own purposes… and they send out a girl as bait to lead him into a trap.

I remember recently looking through my cable movie schedule, and this movie was slated to show at one of the family-oriented channels, a circumstance I attribute to the fact that title of the movie makes it sound like something other than it is. Out of curiosity, I set it up to record, and sure enough, when the time came for it to run, another movie had been substituted in its place. It looks like someone took the trouble to double-check the movie before showing it.

The title is one of the most prominent jokes in the Harlan Ellison story on which this movie is based; the story itself is the antithesis of wholesome, what with its incessant foul language and its subject matter in which the main character is something of a serial rapist (as is practically every other male roaming the wasteland). If anything, the movie cleans up the story a bit by toning down the language, though it remains true enough to its source story that it still nets an ‘R’ rating. This is the third time I’ve seen this one; I was familiar with the story long before I ever saw the movie version. Perhaps the most striking changes from the story occur when the drifter enters the underground civilization; some of the changes are really bizarre, such as having all the residents wear clown-like makeup on their faces, and some of the changes make the movie more conventional than the story; in the movie, I get the impression that anyone in the drifter’s place would want to escape the underground world, whereas in the story, I get the impression that the decision was shaped much more by his own character, which I found more interesting. Still, it is a striking movie in many regards, and it’s the last of the handful of movie L.Q. Jones co-produced with Alvy Moore, who here also plays a doctor in the underground world. My favorite performance is probably Tim McIntire, who provides the voice for the wise-cracking dog. Reportedly, the movie is slated for remake this year.


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