A Boy and His Dog (1975)

R | 93 mins | Science fiction | 10 October 1975

Director:

L. Q. Jones

Writer:

L. Q. Jones

Producer:

Alvy Moore

Cinematographer:

John Arthur Morrill

Editor:

Scott Conrad

Production Designer:

Ray Boyle

Production Company:

L.Q. Jaf
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HISTORY

The film begins with newsreel footage of nuclear explosions and the following written statement: “WORLD WAR IV LASTED FIVE DAYS. Politicians had finally solved the problem of urban blight.”
       According to a 30 Oct 1975 Los Feliz Hills News article, screenwriter-director L. Q. Jones, who was known for his work as an actor, spent one year adapting Harlan Ellison’s 1969 Nebula Award-winning novella A Boy and His Dog, as well as three additional months composing the last line of the film. Jones was reportedly so concerned with the controversial statement that he filmed an alternate ending. A 4 Nov 1982 LAHExam article published on the eve of the picture’s 1982 re-release noted that Ellison courted many offers to option film rights to his novella, but Jones won him over with his “fiery independence.” The deal was made Nov 1970, according to AMPAS library production files. Ellison wanted to adapt the story, himself, but wrote only eighteen pages in four months, forcing Jones to take over writing duties at night while maintaining his acting career by day. According to Jones, an unnamed major Hollywood studio offered to purchase the screenplay, but he effectively declined, asking for $1 million and 90% of the film’s gross, and opted to finance the $400,000 budget independently. Although he is not credited onscreen as an executive producer, Jones listed himself in that role when he filed AMPAS Official Screen Credits on 16 Jan 1976.
       While materials from AMPAS library files stated that principal photography was conducted between Apr and May 1973 with a twenty-seven day schedule, a 20 Jun 1973 HR news ... More Less

The film begins with newsreel footage of nuclear explosions and the following written statement: “WORLD WAR IV LASTED FIVE DAYS. Politicians had finally solved the problem of urban blight.”
       According to a 30 Oct 1975 Los Feliz Hills News article, screenwriter-director L. Q. Jones, who was known for his work as an actor, spent one year adapting Harlan Ellison’s 1969 Nebula Award-winning novella A Boy and His Dog, as well as three additional months composing the last line of the film. Jones was reportedly so concerned with the controversial statement that he filmed an alternate ending. A 4 Nov 1982 LAHExam article published on the eve of the picture’s 1982 re-release noted that Ellison courted many offers to option film rights to his novella, but Jones won him over with his “fiery independence.” The deal was made Nov 1970, according to AMPAS library production files. Ellison wanted to adapt the story, himself, but wrote only eighteen pages in four months, forcing Jones to take over writing duties at night while maintaining his acting career by day. According to Jones, an unnamed major Hollywood studio offered to purchase the screenplay, but he effectively declined, asking for $1 million and 90% of the film’s gross, and opted to finance the $400,000 budget independently. Although he is not credited onscreen as an executive producer, Jones listed himself in that role when he filed AMPAS Official Screen Credits on 16 Jan 1976.
       While materials from AMPAS library files stated that principal photography was conducted between Apr and May 1973 with a twenty-seven day schedule, a 20 Jun 1973 HR news item, which announced the casting of actor Jason Robards, stated that filming was set to begin 1 Jul 1973. Locations included the Pacific Ocean Park in Venice, CA, and Barstow, CA. LAHExam stated that Jones spent a total of five years working on the film.
       Although the dog character “Blood” is credited onscreen to Tim McIntire, the human actor who performed his voiceover dialogue, the role was portrayed onscreen by a canine actor named Tiger, according to the 18 Mar 1975 DV review. Tiger, who was not listed in the film’s credits, was best known for his recurring role in several episodes of the television situation comedy The Brady Bunch (ABC, 26 Sep 1969--30 Aug 1974).
       On 27 Sep 1976, Box announced that the picture received the World Science Fiction Society’s prestigious Hugo Award and that it had grossed $4 million in box-office receipts since its Apr 1975 release by Pacific Film Enterprises. However, the film print contains a 1974 copyright notice for “Third L. Q. L. lac.” and Pacific Film is neither credited onscreen nor listed in reviews. The earliest opening date verified by reviews is 10 Oct 1975 in Los Angeles, CA, although it screened seven months earlier at AFI’s Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Filmex) on 15 Mar 1975 and at the U.S.A. Film Festival in Dallas, TX, in mid-Mar 1975.
       As noted in a 29 Oct 1982 DV news item, the picture enjoyed a cult following, screening consistently at repertory theaters for seven years until its general re-release on 5 Nov 1982. Grosses exceeded $6 million to that time, with an additional $900,000 earned from “recent test re-runs” nationwide in cities including San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; Boston, MA; Denver, CO; Salt Lake City, UT; and Minneapolis, MN. LAHExam reported that during a test run in Fresno, CA, the picture ranked only second in box-office grosses to the vastly popular E.T.: The Extraterrestrial (1982, see entry). Various contemporary sources, including DV and LAHExam, noted that the reissue coincided with increasing public apprehension about nuclear war; a CA vote on 2 Nov 1982 had approved a proposition that would make the state a “nuclear-free” zone. The picture was advertised as A Boy and His Dog: An R-Rated Rather Kinky Tale of Survival and A Boy and His Dog: A Future You’ll Probably Live to See, emphasizing the film’s salacious content and its pertinence to current affairs.
       The film received mixed reviews upon initial release, with the 13 Oct 1975 LAHExam calling the picture “first-rate science-fiction, totally alien and yet unnervingly plausible,” and the 9 Oct 1975 HR complaining that Jones exaggerated “to an offensive degree the already strongly misogynous qualities of Ellison’s work” and created “one of the most hateful endings in the history of cinema.” While Charles Champlin in his 10 Oct 1975 LAT review hailed the film as “raucously and richly entertaining,” Kevin Thomas was much less favorable in his 5 Nov 1982 LAT review of the re-release, noting that its “misogynistic sensibility only intensified with the passage of time.”

More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
14 Jul 1975
p. 4795.
Box Office
27 Sep 1976.
---
Daily Variety
18 Mar 1975.
---
Daily Variety
29 Oct 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 1975.
---
LAHExam
13 Oct 1975.
---
LAHExam
4 Nov 1982
Section C, p. 1, 6.
Los Angeles Times
12 Mar 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
10 Oct 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Nov 1982.
---
Los Feliz Hills News
30 Oct 1975.
---
New York Times
17 Jun 1976
p. 32.
Time
10 Nov 1975.
---
Variety
26 Mar 1975
p. 32.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT

NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
1st cam asst
Key grip
Best boy
Generator op
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Property
COSTUMES
Asst ward
Miss Winston's cost by
MUSIC
"Topeka" mus seq by
Musician
Musician
Musician
Musician
Musician
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles & opticals
Title des
MAKEUP
Make up
PRODUCTION MISC
Blood's trainer
Blood's owner
Animal Rentals
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Scr supv
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts unlimited
Stunts unlimited
Stunts unlimited
Stunts unlimited
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novella A Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison in his The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World (New York, 1969).
SONGS
"When the World Was New," by Richard Gillis.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
A Boy and His Dog: An R-Rated Rather Kinky Tale of Survival
A Boy and His Dog: A Future You’ll Probably Live to See
Release Date:
10 October 1975
Premiere Information:
Filmex screening: 15 March 1975
Los Angeles opening: 10 October 1975
New York opening: week of 17 June 1976
Production Date:
began mid 1973 in Venice, CA, and Barstow, CA
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor®
Widescreen/ratio
Techniscope®
Duration(in mins):
93
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the year 2024 A.D., World War IV ravages Earth with nuclear bombs in five days, leaving few survivors to navigate the post-apocalyptic desert terrain of former Phoenix, Arizona. One lusty teenaged boy, Vic, and his dog, Blood, scan the horizon for young women as Blood speaks to Vic telepathically and scolds him for his naiveté. After chasing several armed men away from an underground hideout, Vic is distressed to discover the lacerated body of a young woman and complains to Blood that she “could have been used” several more times. Blood attests that Vic is dreadful but agrees to continue his assistance in Vic’s quest for sexual fulfillment. As they journey through the desert, Blood tutors Vic in history and quizzes him on the names of American presidents. Vic grows increasingly perturbed because he has been abstinent for six weeks and Blood insists on being fed, but food is scarce; however, Vic braves a band of armed rogues to steal a bag of provisions. That night, Vic and Blood pay their way into a makeshift pornographic movie theater with a can of beets. Blood traces the scent of a woman, but refuses to reveal her whereabouts because Vic denies him popcorn and insults his intelligence. When Vic flatters and feeds his dog, Blood guides him to an abandoned subterranean hospital inhabited by the fearsome band of “Screamers.” Vic is reticent about pursuing the girl inside, but Blood assures his companion that the Screamers have temporarily vacated the premises. Creeping into the hideout, Vic stalks the girl and watches from afar as she dresses. Holding her at gunpoint, Vic grabs ... +


In the year 2024 A.D., World War IV ravages Earth with nuclear bombs in five days, leaving few survivors to navigate the post-apocalyptic desert terrain of former Phoenix, Arizona. One lusty teenaged boy, Vic, and his dog, Blood, scan the horizon for young women as Blood speaks to Vic telepathically and scolds him for his naiveté. After chasing several armed men away from an underground hideout, Vic is distressed to discover the lacerated body of a young woman and complains to Blood that she “could have been used” several more times. Blood attests that Vic is dreadful but agrees to continue his assistance in Vic’s quest for sexual fulfillment. As they journey through the desert, Blood tutors Vic in history and quizzes him on the names of American presidents. Vic grows increasingly perturbed because he has been abstinent for six weeks and Blood insists on being fed, but food is scarce; however, Vic braves a band of armed rogues to steal a bag of provisions. That night, Vic and Blood pay their way into a makeshift pornographic movie theater with a can of beets. Blood traces the scent of a woman, but refuses to reveal her whereabouts because Vic denies him popcorn and insults his intelligence. When Vic flatters and feeds his dog, Blood guides him to an abandoned subterranean hospital inhabited by the fearsome band of “Screamers.” Vic is reticent about pursuing the girl inside, but Blood assures his companion that the Screamers have temporarily vacated the premises. Creeping into the hideout, Vic stalks the girl and watches from afar as she dresses. Holding her at gunpoint, Vic grabs a nearby mattress, orders her to disrobe, and learns her name is Quilla June Holmes. Just then, Blood warns that the compound is surrounded by enemy combatants and Quilla is surprised that Vic can telepathically communicate with his dog. As Vic and Blood plot their escape, the Screamers descend into the hideout and a gunfight ensues. Blood mauls one of the soldiers and drags his weapon to Quilla, who aids in their fight. After a lull, the battle continues and Blood fights an enemy dog, provoking Vic to kill the vicious attacker. Upon Blood’s command, Vic constructs a decoy with Quilla’s skirt and they realize the Screamers have retreated. However, an injured Blood detects the enemy’s return and they climb deeper into the underground lair, where Quilla seduces Vic and they make love. Unaware that Vic’s intelligence is telepathically augmented by Blood, Quilla is allured by Vic’s historical discourse and she propositions him for more sex. As Blood limps to the surface to assure a safe passage, Quilla invites Vic to join her in the subterranean world of “Downunder,” but she insists that he come alone. Blood returns and warns his companion against trusting Quilla, who hits Vic over the head with a flashlight before they part ways. Sometime later, Vic finds a card permitting access Downunder and heads out in search of Quilla. After an emotional farewell to Blood, Vic descends a vast network of ladders and air ducts to find a green grass cemetery in an artificially recreated version of Topeka, Kansas. There, Vic is captured by a farmer named Michael, who scrubs Vic in a bathtub as a group of onlookers watch silently, eating popcorn. Later, white-faced, comatose Topeka residents mull about a county fair as a marching band performs and an ever-present loudspeaker declares commands. In a converted church, the biosphere’s architect and ruler, Lew Craddock, greets Quilla, his daughter, who has just returned from her mission to lure Vic into the underworld. Quilla elucidates her hope of gaining power in the regime’s “committee” in return for the favor, but when she leaves, Lew’s associate, Doctor Moore, warns that she will be trouble and Lew orders his secretary, Mez, to marry off the girl to a farm boy. Outside, Quilla tells her boyfriend, Gary, that she will manipulate her way out of the “farm,” a place where Lew sends his dissenters. Meanwhile, Lew inspects Vic and tells the boy that he has been selected for his sexual prowess to impregnate female Topeka inhabitants. Lew explains that prolonged residence underground has created a metabolic condition that prevents women from becoming fertilized without the interjection of “new blood.” In a laboratory, Vic is strapped to a bed and semen is extracted from his body while a preacher conducts marriages. Soon, Quilla arrives in a wedding gown and knocks Doctor Moore and the preacher unconscious with a crowbar hidden in her bouquet. Releasing Vic, she reports that thirty-five women have been impregnated thus far and gives directions to the committee office, where Vic’s gun is quarantined. When Vic recoups his rifle, Quilla demands that he help her murder the committee members. As they hide in the bushes, a committee meeting is broadcast over Topeka’s omnipresent loudspeaker and Lew sentences Quilla and Gary to the “farm.” As Lew’s robotic henchman, farmer Michael, breaks Gary’s neck, Quilla guides Vic out of Topeka, but Michael gives chase. Vic fires his weapon and the robot eventually expires, allowing Vic and Quilla to reach the Earth’s surface. There, Vic finds Blood nearly dead from starvation. Quilla pledges her love for Vic, hoping that he will run away with her, but Vic remains true to his dog and uses Quilla as meat. Revived, Blood and Vic head out for future conquests and Blood concedes that the girl “had good taste.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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