285. Westworld (US 1973)
Writer/Director: Michael Crichton
Starring: James Brolin, Richard Benjamin, Yul Brynner
Music: Fred Karlin
Cinematography: Gene Polito
Fact: Alka Seltzer was used to create the fizzing of Brynner acid-burned skin.
Bit Parts: Majel Barrett (Mrs Gene Roddenberry)
Time: 88 minutes
In one line: a futuristic holiday world becomes a death trap.
Delos is a holiday resort of the future. Holiday makers can choose between RomanWorld, MediaevalWorld and West World. Holiday makers Pete Martin (Benjamin) and John Blane (Brolin) enjoy the pleasures of WestWorld (gunfighting with robotic oulaws, sleeping with android hooas) safe in the knowledge that they won't be shot dead or go home with a touch of the Val Doonicans. The androids start to go wrong. Blane is bitten by a robotic rattle snake and one of the prozzies won't drop her drawers for Martin. Worse still, The Gunslinger (Brynner) starts to kill the guests and as order breaks down in the three worlds, Pete Martin must flee for his life with a relentless cyborg killing machine in pursuit........
Westworld is a decent, prescient film that is crying out for a hi-tech remake.
People whinge about classic films being re-made, but it depends on the reasons for, and the nature of, the remake in question. Some films capture a moment a particular moment in time or in the case of the better ones they exemplify a recognisable human quality or celebrate what is good about being human.
The new Get Carter and The Italian Job are horrible for all sorts of reasons, but their main fault is that they trample all over another nation's culture and add nothing but a superficial and laughable American macho polish or glamourised casual violence to two films with a very real heart and spirit. They're also star vehicles for two rather unpleasant stars with unpleasant personas.
I would imagine that Michael Crichton would have loved a state of the art CGI remake of Westworld. The film (I haven't read the novel) seems to predict computer viruses and was the first film film to use digital image processing. The film's narrative contains all the familiar elements of Crichton's work - corporate greed, human and scientific hubris, the scarier side of technology and the remarkable nature of human ingenuity when faced with disaster.
Brolin and Benjamin are OK, but (once again) it's Brynner's film. Brynner's image and demeanour are taken from his own semi-iconic appearance as Chris in The Magnificent Seven, and the film is worth watching for the eerie electronic sound effect and the metallic sheen in Brynner's eye when we as an audience are reminded that 'The Gunslinger' is an android.
Westworld was of course the precursor for Jurassic Park - the theme park going wrong was another of Crichton's uncanny predictions and the massacres that took place at Noel Edmonds' Blobbyworld are testament to the big man's vision. And as anyone who's been to Camelot, Gulliver's World or Colomendy will testify, death has no sting compared to these stygian nightmare pleasure palaces for the great unwashed of this country.
Westword was followed with a crappy sequel - Futureworld (always stay clear of Peter Fonda films) and a even crappier, short-lived TV series Beyond Westworld (aka Eastenders).
*Not really a theme park as such, although its theme of scruffs with psychopathic tendencies and shitty arses has been faithfully adhered to for nearly forty years.