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DON JOHNSON WITH SUSANNE BENTON IN 'A BOY AND HIS DOG'

Title: A BOY AND HIS DOG Pictured: Susanne Benton and Don Johnson Director: L.Q. Jones Year: 1975 Rating: ****

Actor L.Q. Jones adapted and directed Harlan Ellison's A DOG AND HIS BOY, creating a post-apocalyptic wasteland that influenced the entire MAD MAX template that would inspire countless other scorched earth films, all from Jones's bottom-dollar production company that'd already made two rural super-low-budget horror flicks THE WITCHMAKER and THE BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN... so BOY would finalize and legitimize an unconnected drive-in trilogy...

Which wasn't easy, taking him five-years to adapt a script that Ellison basically gave up on, and although it takes most of the dialogue from the source novella, the telepathically-speaking dog, Blood, sounds more like Jones's kind of timeworn Texan than Ellison's snotty New York intellectual, helping the titular BOY in Don Johnson's Vic find women while he helps the dog (handicapped from having the ability to speak) find food...

Tiger as Blood in A BOY AND HIS DOG

Jones's real task for the 90-minute nomadic adventure was how to convey endless exposition while moving the pair along desert ruins that, like George Miller's MAX setting, has flamboyant Barbarian-style slave-masters, and in particular a group called The Screamers, who, from economic restraints, can only be heard, not seen, making BOY equally as horror-exploitation as futuristic-science-fiction and with sporadic gunfights mirroring the kind of b-Westerns the director had acted in for decades...

Meanwhile Johnson's rifle-in-hand Vic and his shaggy sidekick... voiced by the film's country-drawl Tim McIntire... know how to get around, winding up in a tented-makeshift outdoor "theater" where only cheap porn has survived an atomic holocaust, subtitled in a nuclear explosion prologue while providing us the year, 2024...

Don Johnson in A BOY AND HIS DOG

A wan existence where director Jones and his stock cinematographer counterbalance the junk-scattered upper and locker-room-dilapidated, slightly-lower-ground element... and here's where the best character takes the story from a wandering first act into the insanely surreal second and third...

As the manipulatively gorgeous Quilla June Holmes, Susanne Benton's sneaky agenda is to seduce Vic, and with her lithe, comparably innocent and perfectly misleading, baby-faced beauty it's not a difficult sell to the audience... but the kid's been living off raping slave girls, and now he's got one with a brain, and who makes the first movie... turning the tables into the "dumb guy falls for the smarter girl" story until, soon after, the lady vanishes...

Susanne Benton in A BOY AND HIS DOG with Jason Robards and Alvy Moore

Ironically making the last part of DOG without the dog, who stays above while Vic... in desperate search for his newfound love that'd confused him into this roving curiosity that the young, resilient, equally naive and pitifully vulnerable Johnson capably conveys... ventures deep underground, ironically filmed in an outdoors grassy field: a world masquerading the wide-open good old days but with, of course, a deadly behind-closed-doors catch...

Here's where what's already a very weird tale becomes head-scratching-bizarre, and so, to legitimize things, Jones has fellow Sam Peckinpah actor Jason Robards as one of three leaders ruling this endless church-to-picnic hybrid of 1950's America and the French Victorian era, with white-caked minstrel-show makeup making otherwise normal-looking town-folk resemble demented clowns...

Hal Baylor in A BOY AND HIS DOG

Turns out, good news mixed with bad, they need Vic to impregnate their beautiful young girls, but by using a hospital room catheter machine to extract the semen instead of having the real fun firsthand...

And while this uncomfortable nightmare plays out, and despite how terrific the always terrific Robards is... using a giant humanoid robot played by Hal Baylor for his dirty work... the film, having gone from a good OUTER LIMITS to a subpar TWILIGHT ZONE, rushes for a conclusion...

Michael Rupert and Susanne Benton in A BOY AND HIS DOG

In the process of attempting a town-takeover-mutiny, and with Vic along to help, the burden of a story having been spoken and filmed in a creative, simultaneous fashion belongs almost entirely to Susanne Benton, not only carrying her own story but everyone else's... yet mostly because she has to...

You'll still be rooting for the faithful pooch, making a sublime odd couple relationship with Don Johnson that needed a few more bickering-while-surviving sequences upfront since, after all, A BOY AND HIS DOG is their very own movie that, somewhere along the way, they ultimately get lost in.

Tiger waits for The Who to return in A BOY AND HIS DOG
Don Johnson and Tiger in A BOY AND HIS DOG
Don Johnson and Tiger in A BOY AND HIS DOG
Director L.Q. Jones turning up in A BOY AND HIS DOG
Don Johnson and Tiger in A BOY AND HIS DOG
Don Johnson and Tiger in A BOY AND HIS DOG
Don Johnson and Tiger in A BOY AND HIS DOG
Don Johnson and Tiger in A BOY AND HIS DOG
Susanne Benton in A BOY AND HIS DOG
Don Johnson in A BOY AND HIS DOG
Susanne Benton in A BOY AND HIS DOG
Tiger in A BOY AND HIS DOG
Director L.Q. Jones autographed Blu Ray and his guest spot on COLUMBO
Alternate title poster (and flip art for Blu Ray) A BOY AND HIS DOG
Don Johnson in A BOY AND HIS DOG with Tiger the dog
L.Q. Jones's A BOY AND HIS DOG with Tiger the dog
Don Johnson in A BOY AND HIS DOG

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