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12 Movies to Watch After You See ‘Logan’

By  · Published on March 3rd, 2017

And not one superhero story among them.

Good cinephiles can spot James Mangold’s influences from a mile away. Sometimes he even includes one of them in one of his movies, as he does with Shane in his latest, Logan. And if you don’t catch all of them, he tends to admit to them in interviews or on Twitter.

Yet he doesn’t exactly quote those influences or pay homage to them the way a lot of modern filmmakers do. Because he wants his movies to stand enough on their own. Here’s how he put it on the set of The Wolverine in 2012 via Bleeding Cool:

I think that filmmakers get in trouble when they’re watching too many DVDs and they’re quoting all the time. John Ford wasn’t quoting, he was just making the movie. I think you should internalize all these movies then make your movie, and see what all those influences do.

He’s made this point in other interviews before and since. He said it’s too easy for modern Western directors to be “postmodern whores” in 2007 in The Oregonian. And in a recent Birth.Movies.Death interview he says “quote-y shots” are “distracting and debilitating to directors.”

So maybe that one chase scene in Logan isn’t supposed to emulate Mad Max: Fury Road? I’d recommend it anyway, but let’s assume you’ve already seen it since it’s new enough and you probably like that kind of movie if you also went to see Logan — which may similarly get a black and white release.

Let’s also assume you’ve seen Shane since Mangold already gave that as an influence on The Wolverine and that should have been taken as a recommendation. Maybe he even put it in Logan for those of you who did your homework and could appreciate the reference.

So let’s get on with this week’s list of Movies to Watch, then. Most of them are, of course, acknowledged influences on Logan made by Mangold directly in a new piece from the BFI and in other recent interviews. The rest are mostly easy choices of mine to join his picks.

Warning: Logan spoilers are found in the following list.

The Cowboys (Mark Rydell, 1972)

After Shane, this is the second-oldest movie cited by Mangold. “A terrific picture in which John Wayne dies,” he writes of the Western (sorry for the additional spoiler). It’s about an old cattle rancher who recruits some young boys to help him with his herd, all the while being followed by cow thieves. You’ll surely see character parallels in this “wonderful film.”
Buy it on Amazon

Paper Moon (Peter Bogdanovich, 1973)

One of the reasons Mangold de-aged X-23 from the comics was to avoid the standard idea of having her be a sexy teen sidekick. He was more interested in something like this classic father-daughter road movie with “a very reluctant stressful relationship between a true child and a guy who doesn’t want to deal with having a kid around,” he explained to Nerdist.
Buy it on Amazon

Logan’s Run (Michael Anderson, 1976)

There are other movies about a journey to a Promised Land that may not exist, including the earlier A Boy and His Dog and the later Mad Max: Fury Road, but obviously I can’t resist the one with such a similar title. Both Logan’s Eden and Logan’s Run’s Sanctuary wind up being myths, yet the movies’ heroes wind up finding something good enough in their place.
Buy it on Amazon

The Shootist (Don Siegel, 1976)

An iconic hero’s last hurrah in a role where his character is slowly dying. For John Wayne, it was his final movie, period. For Hugh Jackman, it’s his last as Wolverine. For the former’s hero, cancer is what’s doing him in. For the latter’s, it’s adamantium poisoning. Both wind up dying with more dignity, for them, succumbing to wounds inflicted by their enemies.
Buy it on Amazon

The Gauntlet (Clint Eastwood, 1977)

Mangold has mentioned this movie in many interviews as an influence without much explanation, but that’s not necessary. Eastwood plays a cop in what’s basically a modernized Western and he’s paired with a young prostitute he’s escorting to safety. They become romantic, though, so of course this is also the kind of thing Mangold wanted to avoid.
Buy it on Amazon

First Blood (Ted Kotcheff, 1982)

If you like Mangold, check out Cop Land starring Sylvester Stallone. If you like Logan, also watch Stallone in his first Rambo movie. Our friend Mike Ryan says it best at Uproxx: “[Logan] reminds me more of a movie like First Blood than it does, say, Ant-Man.” For a time, Stallone wanted to make “Last Blood,” but gave up. It’d probably have been like Logan.
Buy it on Amazon

Fortress (Arch Nicholson, 1985)

The focus of a recent Missed Connections column, Fortress is a movie Mangold likely missed while he was in college in the mid-1980s, so the late moment in Logan of all the kids together killing the villain probably wasn’t influenced by a similar yet more intensely overdone kill in the early HBO Original. Regardless, if you like the one death scene, you’ll love the other.
Buy it on Amazon

Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992)

Unforgiven was a film that Hugh liked to talk about that he hoped I could emulate,” Mangold tells the BFI, “and the reality is that Unforgiven is actually in many ways influenced by Shane, so I decided to go back to the original source.” What’s also interesting is back in the 1990s, Eastwood was many fans’ wishlist actor to play Wolverine. Imagine him now, in Logan.
Buy it on Amazon

Leon: The Professional (Luc Besson, 1994)

Paper Moon is all fine and good for the precursor to the Wolverine and X-23 relationship, but seeing as how they’re also both weaponized badasses, it’s impossible to ignore this movie about an assassin and his young preteen girl sidekick. Mangold tweeted that he was thinking about it as he made The Wolverine, so he must have really been thinking about it during Logan.
Buy it on Amazon

Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2006)

This Best Picture nominee is the biggest surprise among Mangold’s admitted influences, but it makes sense when you see the pitch to Fox: “I told them I wanted to make a really bloody Little Miss Sunshine with superheroes. I didn’t mean that literally, but I wanted to capture that film’s sense of intimacy, the sense of spending a lot of time on the road.”
Buy it on Amazon

Which Way Home (Rebecca Cammisa, 2009)

The apparent timeliness of the Mexico-set stuff in Logan may be accidental, but the idea of all these kids on their own attempting to get to America (and up to Canada) reminded me of this Oscar-nominated documentary about Honduran child migrants traveling through Mexico to get to the U.S. We can just pretend there’s a scene with the other Transigen kids riding atop a train.
Buy it on Amazon

Looper (Rian Johnson, 2012)

There’s no time travel in Logan, thank god, but the movie does have a tone similar to that of this sci-fi movie about a , especially felt in their comparable farmhouse refuge segments as well as how they both involve a super-powered kid. The main difference is that in Looper, the villainous organization is after the grown-up hero more than the child.
Buy it on Amazon

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.