Based on a 1967 anti-counterculture novel, Logan’s Run (1976) is set in a post-Apocalyptic Love, American Style paradise, where hundreds of young, beautiful heterosexuals with blow-dried hair, the girls outnumbering the boys five to one, stroll the corridors of a gigantic shopping mall, shopping mostly for sex. If they are unsuccessful in hooking up at the mall, they drop by a “Love Store” for slow-motion orgies, or go home and dial up one-night stands on a teleportation circuit. The downside is everyone explodes on their thirtieth birthday. A few deviants called “runners” hide to avoid exploding, and try to break the city’s bonds and head out for the distant, mythical Sanctuary. It is the job of “sandmen” to hunt them down and kill them.
Michael York, straw-haired with languid blue eyes, and Richard Jordan, square-jawed and passionate, play sandmen partners Logan and Francis. Strolling down the airy causeways side by side, the two make a startling contrast to the crowds comprised entirely of boy-girl or boy-multiple girl groups. In the first scene, they gaze lovingly at Logan’s test-tube son in the City nursery as if they are both its parents. And Francis can’t seem to keep his hands off Logan: he is always grabbing him, hugging him, putting his arm around his shoulders or waist as they walk, and in one scene he literally orders Logan into a hot tub with him. In the original novel, Francis is practically a stranger.
Logan receives an assignment to go undercover as a runner and find Sanctuary, so the City can have it destroyed. He teams up with runner-friendly Jessica (Jenny Agutter),. Francis, meanwhile, thinks that Logan is really a runner, and follows, but not to kill him – to talk “sense” into him.
Logan and Jessica, with Francis close behind, journey through the Cathedral, where wilding teenagers run rampant and shirtless; through endless underground corridors where renegade Sanctuary sympathizers hate sandmen; through an ice palace, where a giant robot named Box tries to freeze them; and finally though the wilderness beyond the City. They end up at the Library of Congress in the ruins of Washington, DC, and discover that there never was a Sanctuary.
Francis goes to great extremes, far beyond sandman duty, to stay close to Logan. He is injured, his uniform is shredded, and he even breaks the bonds of the City, an absolute taboo. When he finally corners them, he approaches Jessica not as a runner but as competition: “What did you do to him? He was happy. Now you’ve ruined him!” Then he rages against Logan, not because he has betrayed sandman principles, but because he has run off with a girl: “Why, Logan? We had good times. Why did you let her. . . .” Logan tries to explain that exploding at age thirty is unnecessary, that “we can grow old together.” It is unclear whether “we” means all humanity or he and Francis.
They fight, and Francis is mortally wounded. Logan cradles him in his arms; Francis seems to see him for the first time, smiles, and grabs his hand. “Logan!” he exclaims happily, “You’ve renewed!” And he dies.
Of course he has to die, so Logan and Jessica can have a “happy” heteronormative ending. Still, one rarely finds a more touching portrayal of same-sex love in 1970s film.