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I just watched Pennies from Heaven and I must say you are ABSOLUTELY right about it! It's an audacious musical, that yet has all the classic elements of the golden era in it. Herbert Ross' directing of (especially) the musical numbers is also very impressive.
I loved everything about it: the story, the music, the occasional comedy, the atmosphere, the performances, and so on and so on. I can imagine this film was way ahead of its time, though.

It's full of amazing scenes and moments, but this has to be my favorite:



Plain awesomeness!

Thanks for recommending it in your thread here! I would not have discovered this flick for a very long time if it wasn't for your convincing hymn about it.
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Cobpyth's Movie Log ~ 2019



If I had only started this a few months ago. Maybe I could have introduced enough of you to it that it would have made the MoFo '80s list?
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"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra




A Boy and His Dog
Directed by L.Q. Jones
Screenplay by Alvy Moore,
Wayne Cruseturner, and L.Q. Jones
Based on the novella by Harlan Ellison
Cinematography by John Arthur Morrill
CAST: Don Johnson, Tim McIntire, Susanne Benton,
Alvy Moore, Helene Winston, Charles McGraw, Tiger,
and Jason Robards
1975, approximately 91 minutes


A Boy and His Dog is an intentionally deceptive title that, with no other context, could easily conjure up images of a live-action Disney movie, either of a Jack London-type tale of surival in nature or perhaps a wacky comedy about a pooch that runs for mayor? This film is about survival, though about as far from a Disney movie as one can get. An accurate, literal title would be something more like A Teenager and His Telepathic Dog Battle Desperate Souls and Mutants for Food and Water in a Post-Apocalyptic Landscape. Tough to fit that on a marquee.



Years after an atomic war has destroyed most of civilization and humanity, in a radioactive desert somewhere in what was the United States, Vic (Don Johnson, a decade before "Miami Vice" would make him a star) and a dog named Blood (played by Tiger, a Bearded Collie) roam the desolate area looking for supplies and food, trying to avoid danger, most of which consists of the other survivors. Blood is the brains of the outfit, smart and thoughtful, and communicates with Vic via telepathy (voiced by Tim McIntire). Blood also has other useful abilities, including an enhanced sense of smell and a radar-like ability to scan for other living things. The film never explains how Blood and some other dogs have gained this telepathic ability, and it hardly matters. But for all of Blood's advances, he can't pull the trigger on a gun or turn a doorknob, so he and Vic are partners. Vic is supposed to be seventeen or so, and is not terribly bright. An orphan who has survived in the post-apocalyptic landscape for years, he can be impulsive, and at times treats Blood's advice the way a petulant teenager would advice from his father. Much to Blood's frustration. Like many teenagers, Vic is also a little sex-crazed, and in addition to food and bullets, Blood also helps him find women to be with.

The first half of the film has what are, by now, familiar scenarios of fending off groups of bandits looking to take what they want from everybody else. This film was released four years before the original Mad Max, so if it seems less elaborate than something like The Road Warrior, less dystopian than Escape from New York, and less stylized than The Book of Eli or Six-String Samurai or any dozen other movies of the sub-genre in the subsequent decades, remember that this is one of the first.



The narrative switches gears and locales in the second half, and gets even more surreal, when Vic is lured beneath the surface by a beautiful young woman named Quilla June (Susanne Benton). He first saves from a gang and then is quickly and easily seduced by her. Post-coitus, she tells him of a better place than the murderous desert, a place where she lives. A place called Topeka.

Buried deep below the ground, clearly made before the bombs started to fall, is en entire society of survivors. Their beloved Topeka is made in the fashion of Smalltown U.S.A. circa 1940-something, a funhouse mirror take on Norman Rockwell Americana. It's all gingham and denim, picnics and a marching band. Because the light is artificial and they have been underground for years at this point, all of the residents wear thick, white makeup, a Kabuki pagent resulting in the people looking like grotesque, life-sized dolls. Topeka is controlled by a three-member committee, the clear leader of which is Lou Craddock (Jason Robards). They seem to have enough food, resources, electricity and space down there to last for a generation or two, if necessary. And the next generation is exactly why Vic has been brought there. Much like the mineshaft scenario described by Doctor Strangelove at the end of Kubrick's film, there is a need for prodigious procreation! But poor Vic finds out it's not quite the Penthouse Letters orgy he may have imagined.


"Lack of respect, wrong attitude, failure to obey authority. The Farm, immediately."

A Boy & His Dog is insane, twisted, satirical and it, too, was probably ahead of its time. On their face, the action and T&A elements might have made it likely fodder for a Drive-In potboiler, but it's done with a level of wit and insanity that likely would have confused if not outright bored an audience looking for an A.I.P. style flick. And at the same time, too sleazy and nutty for the Art House circuit.

The film's director, L.Q. Jones, is a well-known character actor who had been in the business for two decades, at that point, having been in dozens of television shows and, most fruitfully, part of Sam Pekinpah's stable of actors, starting with Ride the High Country (1962) and following in Major Dundee (1965), The Wild Bunch (1969), The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970), and Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973). He directed only one other movie before this, a micro-budgeted Western The Devil's Bedroom (1964), and never made another movie after A Boy & His Dog. But this one is a terrific film that has attained cult status, but too often gets left out of the discussion of Best Science Fiction films.



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A Boy & His Dog odds and ends…
  • Tim McIntire, who does Blood's voice overs, was an actor who worked for many years in the industry, making his film debut with Jimmy Stewart in Shendoah and as an adult had visible roles in The Sterile Cuckoo with Liza Minelli, Brubaker with Robert Redford, and starred as disc jockey Alan Freed in American Hot Wax.

  • Tim McIntire also wrote the music and sang the title song for the film. He composed scores and songs for several other films, including “The Ballad of Jeremiah Johnson”, which he also sang, in Sydney Pollack’s Jeremiah Johnson (1972).

  • Ray Manzarek of The Doors also worked on the film's music with McIntire.

  • If it seems like an odd project for the double Oscar-winning Jason Robards to have agreed to, he did know L.Q. Jones from Peckinpah's The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970), which explains at least how the script got to him, if not why he agreed to take the role.

  • Harlan Ellison, who wrote the original story, tried to adapt it into a screenplay himself. He gave up, under the frustration of writer's block, so Jones and two others actually wrote it.
  • Author Harlan Ellison is gloriously and sometimes even notoriously outspoken, but except for the last lines of the film, a joke that he thought was cheap and undercut everything that went before it, he rather liked L.Q.'s film, and is often cited as the best adaptation of one of his stories or teleplays.
  • The legendary Jimmy Cagney was considered for the role of Blood's voice, but all involved ultimately decided his voice was TOO recognizable and iconic and would have been too much of a distraction for viewers
  • The canine actor is the same Tiger who was the family pet on a handful of episodes of "The Brady Bunch".
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That's what this is. At least the first hundred. But I'm just revealing them as I go, it's not ranked (though my top ten is easy to discover, in my profile) or even revealed alphabeticaly.

That's four down, ninety-six to go.

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I watched A Boy & His Dog upon its appearance on this list, and then read your writeup (which I enjoyed ). For me though the movie felt like nothing more than a decent campy apocalyptic tale. I personally enjoyed the first (pre-cult) half of the film, while the rest bored me outside of a few entertaining moments. But as you mentioned it has a selective audience.
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Yeah, there's no body mutilation in it



Didn't like A Boy and His Dog. Translation: it will make the 70s list.



I love A Boy and His Dog. I'm glad you also appreciated it. But then again I'm not surprised. You have superb taste Holden. The review was well written, and your observations spot on.