Don Johnson plays a young man in a post nuclear war world who has an interesting friend, a telepathic dog. The dog gives him an advantage in dealing with the barbaric world he lives in. When Johnson finds one place that has escaped the devastation of the war, he also finds some rather odd attitudes.
Don Johnson ... Vic
Susanne Benton ... Quilla June Holmes
Jason Robards ... Lou Craddock
Tim McIntire ... Blood (voice)
Alvy Moore ... Doctor Moore
Helene Winston ... Mez Smith
Charles McGraw ... Preacher
Hal Baylor ... Michael
Ron Feinberg ... Fellini
Michael Rupert ... Gery (as Mike Rupert)
Don Carter ... Ken
Michael Hershman ... Richard
1975's "A Boy And His Dog" defies categorization, much like the outspoken author who penned its Nebula-winning source novella. Harlan Ellison has resisted the genre label for his entire 900+ short story career ("call me a 'science fiction' writer, and I'll come to your house and nail your pet's head to the table", he's warned), and yet his collections are stacked alongside "Sliders" novelizations in most bookstores. With its multiple world wars, mutants, and robot assassins, "A Boy And His Dog" is superficially science fiction, but only in the service of aspiring to a level of satire a la "A Clockwork Orange" or "Slaughterhouse Five".
Phoenix, Arizona 2024 AD: nomadic hunter-gatherers roam the radioactive wastelands ravaged by World War Four. Libidinous Vic has managed to survive his eighteen years as a "Solo" thanks largely to the aide of his far more intelligent - not to mention telepathic - companion Blood, a "Rover" who searches out supplies, women, and enemies and provides the requisite witty repartee. A post-nuke buddy pic? Well, of sorts--you see, while most viewers will recognize recently-bankrupt "Nash Bridges" star Don Johnson as the very young solo, fewer will realize that Blood is portrayed by the same veteran who managed to avoid being stereotyped as "Tiger" on The Brady Bunch. That's right: "Rovers" are intelligent, telepathic dogs, bred for warfare. If you're thinking of tuning out--don't, because this film has a lot to offer beyond an outrageous premise. When Blood sniffs out a disguised Quilla June (Susanne Benton) at a desert camp, Vic is surprised that he won't have to force her to be his evening's bedmate. Fleeing scavengers and the dangerous "Screamers" (nocturnal mutants who roam the deserts), Quilla June convinces Vic to join her in her subterranean home "Topeka", leaving Blood behind. Quilla June's father and leader of "The Committee" Lou Craddock (Jason Robards) sent her above ground to lure Vic into impregnating Topeka's women and offers the boy all of the perks of this bizarre Our Town meets Body Snatchers hamlet. But Vic finds out that his stud service will be extremely brief if he doesn't play by the rules, and after escaping The Committee's robotic enforcer, he finds loyal Blood on the brink of death, awaiting his return. Luckily, Quilla June has tagged along, and will provide a restorative service that reinforces Vic's worldview that the only "true love" is the one between a boy and his dog...
Produced in the days when "indie" typically meant "exploitation", "A Boy And His Dog" was a guerilla project for several Hollywood veterans who craved to do something different outside of "The System". Ellison had turned down big studio offers from Warners and Universal and instead handed over screen rights to L.Q. Jones, who had best been known as a stuntman (and still appears to this day in such fare as The Edge and Walker, Texas Ranger) to write and direct. The late Alvy Moore, of television's Green Acres, produced the film and appeared as Robard's accomplice "Dr. Moore". Tim McIntyre provided the voice of Blood and composed the music. Ellison wasn't happy with the Topeka sequences (and blamed his own story for their shortcomings) and was even less pleased with the film's final spoken line (a morbid pun penned by Jones). He offered to re-loop the dialogue out of his own pocket, but audiences loved the line. Despite Ellison's protests, the film impressed his peers enough for them to award it the 1976 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. Fourth-time director Jones displays such a gifted eye for widescreen compositions and maximizing limited resources, and propels the story forward so breezily with witty voice-overs and bouncy acoustic score that it's amazing that he's never directed another film. The assured depiction of difficult character "Blood" is a true revelation: as voiced by McIntyre, reading dialogue more or less verbatim from Ellison's prose, the shaggy Rover ranks as one of the most believable and three-dimensional non-human screen characters--ever. I never cried when Old Yeller got shot, but I still get moist-eyed when Blood and Vic part ways at the entrance to Topeka.
"A Boy And His Dog" regularly shows up on most lists of the Top 10 Science Fiction Films Of All Time, and I certainly rank it alongside another independent S.F. marvels like "Dark Star" and "THX 1138". So, do give the dog a chance; after all, Tiger won the 1975 "Patsy Award" for his performance <g> The Region 1 DVD contains audio commentary from L.Q. Jones and two trailers (the promised "liner notes" are nowhere in evidence in my version). But be warned, purists: worse than the shoddy packaging and frequent misspellings ("Harlen" Ellison?), is the print itself: marred by emulsion scratches, dirt, and missing frames throughout. Still, the cheap price, and the sad fact that this is the only version fans have to choose from until someone like Blue Underground comes to the rescue, makes this disc a Must Have.
I thought this movie was delightful in a very, very dark and offbeat way. Yes, a feel for evil runs throughout "A Boy and His Dog", but it is an anarchic, gleeful kind of evil. It goes way beyond taken seriously; from the beginning where Blood (what a name!) remarks to his partner/master - "Because you're not a nice person, Albert" to the horrifyingly funny ending, this is an amazing metaphorical tale. And it is such a tale, nothing like I usually get out of seeing a movie, this story of greed and loyalty and morality and how to survive in a post-apocalyptic society...
I had read about the ending and how much of a shock it was... And I would have to agree. This movie is decidedly mysogynistic. However, that doesn't mean it is not without a certain kind of intelligence and grandiosity. But this movie will offend many people, particularly and necessarily women. But despite an undeniable baseness to the conception, I felt it had a sublime intelligence. What maturity means and figuring out one's priorities. To me, the message was survival must come before indulging in sensual excess. Food before sex. And that is kind of what life comes down to. I did not feel sorry for that woman very much. She lied to Vic and then put him in a position where trust was of the essence. So, of course Vic made a decision that was based entirely on past experience. And this is a mean, mean society we can live in. And the moviemakers were intuitive enough and smart enough to not show any unnecessary violence. And if you have ever seen L.Q. Jones before, it should come as no surprise that it was he who directed this film. He from "The Wild Bunch" - a kind of simultaneously supreme/supremely unsophisticated mind at work here. It's like Charles Bukowski said about having all the pretense beaten out of you at an early age. The movie has pride coming out of its pores, but I could only sit back and enjoy the fun that must have been had during its making. The story is also a not entirely unfair masculine reaction to certain elements going on in the world at the time, elements which almost certainly made a lot of people feel very uncomfortable. Too much change to deal with. And it is not arrogance without due. the movie is only 87 minutes long...
And it was funny at times. And it had compelling style. And Tim McIntire's voice worked with the dog's personality. And Don Johnson was hot. And Blood was cute to look at and interesting to listen to. I also thought he offered variation to Vic's more primal, animalistic nature. Superego vs. id. The theme has been done before, I suppose. Just never with such a sense of unabandoned and unapologetic wickedness. In a way, it is very unfair to women. Yet in the end, I guess everything works out the way it is supposed to.
A Boy and His Dog is one of the most entertaining post-apocalyptic future movies ever made. You know why? Because it has no taste and in that, it has no inhibitions about the questions it asked about what will happen after the world is spent by nuclear war. It asks about how procreation will happen, how basic sexual feelings will be satisfied, and other things. It has a genuinely original plot involving telepathic dogs that are more literate than their human masters,gunfights wherein the dogs direct their human masters, an entire society underground that discerns who is apart of them or not by wearing clownface at all times, and other crazy things.
It's a wild, crazy, tasteless, sex-obsessed adventure that affords the viewer one of the greatest luxuries of the movies, one that is rarely completely fulfilled, which is unpredictability. It's so inventive in every way that you don't know what happens next. Even the comical theme song is so out of place for the genre of the film, but the theme of a boy and his dog makes it suitable. A Boy and His Dog is not a great film, but it's worth watching repeatedly and showing our friends. Another buried treasure.
* The screenplay was started by Harlan Ellison, who wrote the novella on which it is based. Ellison encountered writer's block, and so producer Alvy Moore and L.Q. Jones took over and wrote the script. Ellison praised the film after its premiere, to the relief of Moore, but there are rumors that Ellison later condemned the film.
* Tim McIntire, who performed the voice of "Blood", sang the main title song, "A Boy and His Dog."
* Near the end of the film, Vic refers to Blood as "Tiger" which was the dog’s actual name.
* According to ‘Cult Movies 2’, a sequel was planned called "A Girl And His Dog" but Tiger died and the plan was scrapped.
* James Cagney's voice was considered as the voice of Blood but was dropped because it would have proved a distraction.