1971’s The Omega Man is the finest screen adaptation of Richard Matheson‘s I Am Legend. The dystopian sci-fi movie might differ from Matheson’s novella, but it keeps the tone and the texture of what makes the tale so good. Charlton Heston is excellent as Robert Neville, the lone man existing in a desolate Los Angeles. He’s just past his prime – which adds to the sadness.
Director Boris Sagal’s The Omega Man makes for an excellent triple-bill with Heston’s Planet Of The Apes and Soylent Green – the precursors to the type of sci-fi/actioners that Arnold Schwarzenegger knocked out in the 1980s.
It must be noted that Schwarzenegger and Ridley Scott almost adapted I Am Legend in the late 1990s, but Warner Bros made the decision to shelve the project due to budgetary reasons. They unwisely made a version with in 2007 with Will Smith which lacked the necessary gravitas.
1964’s The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price is quite good and worth seeking out.