Back in the ’70s there was a story of a young man growing up on a desert landscape yearning for something bigger to happen. He gets tempted to adventure by a mysterious woman. Does that sound like Star Wars? Did I mention that the young man has a dog that talks to him? This is about A Boy and His Dog, one of the great science fiction films of the 20th Century. Vic (Miami Vice‘s Don Johnson) roams the wasteland of America in the post World War III apocalypse in 2024. He only has two needs: food and getting laid. To help him survive in the wasteland, Vic’s best friend is Blood, a dog (The Brady Bunch‘s Tiger). Their relationship is unusual since they can talk telepathically (with the voice of Tim McIntire). A Boy and His Dog is about the time Vic went inside the planet instead of blasted off into space.
In the post-nuclear destruction, the survivors have turned into a scavenger society . Nothing grows in the ravaged wilderness. Vic and Blood do their best to uncover canned food that have been hidden in various holes and craters. They must avoid the slavers that roam the desolation eager to deal in the flesh trade. Vic is constantly scouting for women. Ironically it is the dog isn’t controlled by his libido. He also has a greater sense of human history than the boy. They make an odd team as they hustle and hide to keep fed and alive. Things aren’t always so bleak in the wilds. There’s an outdoor movie theater they attend. The admission is rather creative although the price of popcorn remains rather steep in the new economy. The duo have their differences. During the movie, Blood sniffs out a woman disguised as a scruffy guy. They track the girl. Turns out she lives in a massive underground town. She promises Vic that there’s plenty of girls interested in him. There’s no way Blood can follow Vic down. The relationship between the two is tested. The boy can’t resist the carnal promise of what lurks beneath. He leaves his pal behind for the new life in a new Topeka. The inhabitants of the underground refuge do their best to recreate an America only existed on Disney’s Main Street. Vic mostly cares about the ladies. But can a randy outsider exist in town run by Jason Robards (Long Days Journey Into Night) and Alvy Moore (Agent Hank Kimball on Green Acres)? Will he ever see his dog again?
A Boy and His Dog is a perfect tale of what would be left on the face of the Earth after of World War III. There’s not much standing in the vistas. The bleak vision lavishes the screen with piles of junk left in the devastation. Director L.Q. Jones is best known for playing grubby characters in Westerns including a bounty hunter in Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch. He creates a bit of a science fiction western without having people act like they’re in a Western. Vic and Blood are Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. They are getting in and out of trouble. They can’t really split up because ultimately they have a bond that’s greater than telepathy. Don Johnson and Tiger are a nature fit on the screen. It hurts when they split up. A Boy and His Dog has been a cult hit for decades thanks to their friendship not because audiences were dazzled by space battles and lightsaber battles. It does deliver the charming message that no matter what fate befalls the Earth, a dog’s going to be your best friend.
The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfer is clean. The print no longer looks like it too had survived World War III. The HD image brings out the freakishness of the underground Topeka. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio Mono. The mix allows you to appreciate the dog’s talking moment.
DVD has all the features of the Blu-ray.
Commentary Track lets L.Q. Jones explain how he was able to be director, producer and writer of his dream project. He spent five years to make it since he was busy acting. Cinematograher John Arthur Morrill and film critic Charles Chaplin keep the conversation lively. L.Q. points out that the atomic opening is from a 1982 re-issue.
In Conversation (51:00) is time at the table with L.Q. Jones and Harlan Ellison. The filmmaker and novelist go over the process of how the movie was made and its impact on their lives. Harlan discusses his issues with the end of the movie. You really feel like the silent third person at the table. Watch this only after seeing the movie.
Theatrical Trailer (1:04) sells the movie with a pop.
Radio Spots (4:38) makes you want to cruise over to the drive-in so your pup can watch too.
A Boy and His Dog is a science fiction film that deserves space in your collection. Few films can depict the bleakness of post-nuclear holocaust living while showing that something do survive. L.Q. Jones did an amazing job of bringing Harlen Ellison’s story to the screen without making it a Hollywood dazzle-fest. The longtime actor had one shot at making a feature film and it turned into a masterpiece.
Shout! Factory presents A Boy and His Dog. Directed by L.Q. Jones. Screenplay by: L.Q. Jones. Starring: Don Jonson, Jason Robards, Alvy Moore, Susan Benton and Tiger. Running Time: 91 minutes. Rated: R. Released: July 30, 2013.