It’s a rarity that an obscure movie from as far back as 30-plus years ever makes it back to the big screen, but 1975’s “A Boy and His Dog” is one of the exceptions. At least here in Sacramento at the community movie screening level. Movies On a Big Screen (MOBS) has been showing this cult classic each Thanksgiving, but this year will be the first that they will be screening it “a full week after”, according to MOBS’s website. But even so, it’s still referred to as a “Holiday Tradition” since Thanksgiving is just the beginning of the holiday season. Unlike most holiday movies, however, “A Boy and His Dog” may not come across as a very optimistic film even though several of its elements make up for that.
“A Boy and His Dog” is an adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s novella of the same name and directed and screen written by L.Q. Jones. The movie involves a late-teen by the name of Vic (played by Don Johnson) and his dog Blood (played by the same dog who played Tiger in “The Brady Bunch” TV series, according to MOBS) who often refers to the boy as “Albert”. The year is 2024 as the two journey on foot searching for food and sex in a post-nuclear wasteland. They communicate with each other telepathically (the voice of Blood is performed by Tim McIntire). Vic and Blood soon come across a girl named Quilla June Holmes (Susanne Benton) who Vic pursues to a subterranean world even though warned by the mentor-type Blood to be a deadly place.
“A Boy and His Dog” has great cinematography such as wide, long shots which create the effect of a vast wasteland as the characters wander throughout it. While realistically post-apocalyptic with its crudely scrap-made settlement scenes, it is also surreal especially in the underworld journey segment. The wasteland setting may appear to be a predecessor to the Mad Max movies that would come along a few years later. And so it is, according to MOBS.
The character interaction between Vic and Blood is very well developed convincing us of their genuine friendship. However, it takes a while to care anything about Vic’s character since he is a rapist. Therefore, as with many movies of the ‘70s, he is an anti-hero much like the gang leader in Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” of the beginning of the decade. Also like the anti-hero in “Clockwork”, Vic’s character changes very little by the end of the movie—he is still the same self-absorbed sexist as he is at the beginning, the only exception (although perhaps a very important one) is that his relationship with Blood strengthens and so paradoxically ends the movie on a good note (but only for the two characters). We don’t really know a lot about Vic’s past life either like we do Quilla’s who is a more secondary character. However, the acting is done really well, including Don Johnson’s, Tim McIntire’s voice for Blood, and Benton’s. As dark and upsetting the story and atmosphere is, the film is filled with plenty of humor especially between Vic and Blood.
What makes “A Boy and His Dog” a holiday film? “If you know the ending, you can probably figure out why . . . MOBS sort of see it as a Thanksgiving movie,” says MOBS’s website. If you don’t know the ending? Well, then that gives you all the more reason to go see “A Boy and His Dog” when it screens this Thursday Nov. 29 at 7 p.m., at The Grange Performing Arts Center, 3823 V Street. Admission is $5. For more information, please visit MOBS’s website. This movie is not recommended for 17 and younger.
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