A Boy and His Dog (L.Q. Jones / U.S., 1975):

Four world wars have blasted civilization back to the wasteland, thus Harlan Ellison's scavenging New Order, one of Eliot's "fantastic canine freaks" takes you through it. Food and women are scarce amid the crumbly detritus, the haughty Bearded Collie ("a brain with an educated nose") scans for them while telepathically sneering at his thick owner (Don Johnson). A bleak yet scarcely monotonous future: Flickering stag movies in barbed-wire camps provide the recreation, a marauder named Fellini tears through in plumed helmet and crazy-quilt cape, glowing green mutants are just off-screen. The vivacious lass used as bait (Susanne Benton) has her own desires and machinations, the lad who dreams of being a stud ends up hooked to a milking gizmo. "You know, you're starting to sound like a goddamn poodle!" Post-apocalyptic junkyards, a subgenre of particular interest to actor-auteurs (cp. Milland's Panic in Year Zero!, Wilde's No Blade of Grass), L.Q. Jones brings a distinctively rambunctious tang to the sci-fi jamboree. Once underground, the satire dilates into embalmed Americana, "Stars and Stripes Forever" and all—a rowdy Thornton Wilder caricature presided over by Jason Robards in whiteface makeup and rouge and policed by a beaming android decked out in overalls and flannel. (The chief inheritor is not Mad Max but Dogville.) "I gotta get back in the dirt so I can feel clean!" More than ably filmed in Mojave Desert locations, full of gonzo invention, and splendidly performed by the shaggy pooch carrying Tim McIntire's sardonic vocals. The ending remembers not to get between a mutt and his meat, "over the hill" and beyond the horizon on a guffawing note from Pasolini (Uccellacci e Uccellini). With Alvy Moore, Helene Winston, Charles McGraw, and Hal Baylor.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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