Welcome to today’s show, my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on Apple Podcast formally known as iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. So please subscribe when you are finished listening. You can also go to classicmovierev.com to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts.
Today’s movie is Westworld (1973). I love this movie. It is based on a Michael Crichton novel. Crichton also directed this film. It is so much better than the HBO series of the same name. The effects are somewhat less than we would like today, but this movie came from 1973.
Still surprisingly effective given the primitive nature of the visual effects, Westworld is a clever hybrid of sci-fi and old-time Western. This film’s impact, with its fledgling robotics and simple story, relies upon humor, surprise, and some startlingly bloody visuals of death and destruction. … The movie is the offspring of Frankenstein and the forerunner of many other films that show a genius creator threatened by his creation. Notably, writer-director Michael Crichton followed this movie with Jurassic Park — first a book, then a classic movie in which an ambitious industrialist creates another manufactured resort … with dinosaurs. Westworld was a box office winner in 1973 and has retained a strong fan base ever since.
So let’s get going!
Yul Brynner is fantastic as the robot gunslinger. Wearing black, Brynner is clearly channeling Chris from The Magnificent Seven (1960). Brynner was covered in Episode 68 – The Buccaneer (1958).
Macho man James Brolin plays the toughly named John Blane. Brolin was first covered in Marooned (1969).
Majel Barrett had a small role as Miss Carrie. Barrett was covered in Episode 68 – The Buccaneer (1958).
Richard Benjamin played Peter Martin. Benjamin was born in 1938 in New York City. He attended the High School for Performing Arts and then attended Northwestern University where was involved in numerous plays. Benjamin married the wonderful Paula Prentiss in 1961. They worked together in television and were both in Catch-22 (1970) and a horror send-up, Saturday the 14th (1981).
Benjamin starred in Goodbye, Columbus (1969) and stayed busy with films like Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970), until 1973 when he was cast as the meek guy in Westworld (1973). He scored big in comedy with The Sunshine Boys (1975). In my opinion, his funniest movie was Love at First Bite (1979), play Van Helsing to George Hamilton’s Dracula, he tried to save his beautiful girlfriend played by Susan Saint James.
He got into directing, and it was not long before he received an Oscar nomination for the film, My Favorite Year (1982) with Peter O’Toole playing a washed-up Errol Flynn character. Benjamin is still active.
Dick Van Patten had a small role as a banker. Van Patten was born in 1928 in New York. Van Patten began acting as a child and began on Broadway at seven years old. He was eventually in 27 Broadway plays. He was in a lot of television shows and movies, but he is known for one particular role on television. He played the dad of a large family on “Eight is Enough” 1977-1981. His most well-known movies include a small role in Soylent Green (1973), Freaky Friday (1976), High Anxiety (1977), Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), and Spaceballs (1987). He died in 2015.
This movie begins with an infomercial for Delos. Odd, because infomercials weren’t invented yet. The reporter is interviewing people as they depart Delos. There are three worlds in Delos, Westworld (sometimes called Westernworld), Romanworld, and Medievalworld. Beyond adventure with robots, it seems like places where middle age people can get laid. They make a big deal out of the $1,000 dollar a day cost. You would get far on that now.
On a shuttle for Delos, buddies Peter Martin (Richard Benjamin) and his friend John Blane (James Brolin), are traveling to Westworld. John has been there before and is supremely confident. Peter is nervous. Peter asks endless questions about guns and equipment.
All of Delos and the three worlds are controlled from a massive underground complex.
The travels are given colored badges indicating their destination. Once the shuttle has landed the visitors are taken to a sub-level and ride a tram to their world. Peter says that looking at the hands is the only way to tell if someone is a robot. The voice over the loud speaks encourages them to enjoy their every whim. They also say nothing can go wrong.
John, Peter, and a banker (Dick Van Patten) are given clothing and gear for the old west. The newcomers arrive in a western town by stagecoach. They are checked into their room by an old-timey robot character. Peter is still pining over his ex-wife.
The two ‘cowboys’ head to the salon. John says there is no way to get hurt in Westworld. A gunslinger (Yul Brynner) walks to the bar and bumps Peter. The gunslinger starts insulting Peter. John encourages Peter to kill the gunslinger. The crowd clears as the robot and man face off. Peter easily beats the gunslinger.
Later John explains to Peter that the guns have sensors that won’t let them fire at anything with body temperature.
A man from the shuttle (Norman Bartold), who was looking at his wife with a sneer, is shown in Medievalworld lustfully looking for a robot to have sex with.
The two cowboys head to the local cathouse for a little fun. Peter is not too sure the women are robots, but he goes along. Peter confesses to his robot that he has never been with a prostitute before. But he goes along. Peter’s robot makes crazy eyes at the end of sex. John comes back and gets Peter who is really having a good time now.
That night as the guest sleep, crews came from below and collected the damaged robots. They are taken below ground for repairs. They even have robot horses. With hidden doors to the underground complex, it reminds me of Disney. Hundreds of technicians and banks of mainframe computers are at work. The supervisor (Alan Oppenheimer) begins to notice a lot of similar malfunctions in the robots. Six-weeks earlier, the breakdowns began to double. It has spread through all three worlds. They liken the spread to a virus, and this is long before computer viruses were known. They say they have trouble conceiving of a disease among machines. The supervisor reminds them that some of the robots have been designed by other computers and they are not sure how they work. In the morning, the techs restart the amusement parks.
While John and Peter are getting dressed, the gunslinger comes in and pulls a gun on John. Peter hears what going on inside and crashes through the door, shots, kills the robot, who flies through the window. The sheriff locks Peter up for murder. This gives John the chance to plan a jailbreak. It would be a good joke to leave his buddy in the cell for the entire vacation. John uses an Indian girl to smuggle a note to Peter. John brings the horses around, and the back of the jail blows out. I don’t know what was in the coffee. John kills the sheriff, and they ride away into the desert as outlaws.
For Medievalworld, the techs below send an infidelity command to the queen robot so mister leers can have sex with her. He goes to the queen and is told that the Black Knight has returned and wishes to have a battle with him.
The techs ramp up the programming for the guests last day in town. The banker guest takes over as sheriff.
Mister leers runs into a serving girl robot in his world, while out in the west a rattlesnake sneaks up on John and Peter. John starts shooting, but the snake bites him. Hey, he was attacked by a rattlesnake in Marooned (1969) also. They eventually kill the snake, and it is a robot. The robot should not have been able to hit the guest.
Later the techs pick up the snake for a total examination. They find that there is no mechanical reason why the snake should strike. The supervisor wants to shut down for a month. He is overruled.
At Medievalword, the Black Knight makes mean eyes at mister leers.
John and Peter are in a bordello in Westworld when a bar fight breaks out. They join in the donnybrook and have a great time beating the robots. The banker sheriff comes in and joins the fight too.
Below ground, the techs are repairing the gunslinger and giving him an upgrade to infrared-vision and increased hearing.
In MedievalWorld, mister leers is putting the moves on the serving girl robot. The girl robot flatly refuses to have sex which is a clear violation of her programming. She is taken below and examined. They can’t find any reason for the violation. Mister leers gets ready to fight.
John and Peter wake up in the destroyed bordello with decent hangovers.
In MedievalWorld, the Black Knight calls out mister leers. The queen comes down, and the man begins to fight the robot. Contrary to programming, the Black Knight kills the guest. The supervisor starts cutting power.
The gunslinger is waiting in the street for John and Peter. The supervisor orders all the power cut since they can’t get the robots to respond. John decides to fight the gunslinger and is killed by the robot. Peter runs for it as the gunslinger follows. Peter gets a horse and heads out. The gunslinger gets a horse and calmly follows.
The tech supervisor realizes the robots are running on stored power and some can last up to twelve hours.
Romanworld becomes a bloodbath as robots fall on the helpless humans.
Tech control tries to turn the power back on, but the relays are frozen.
Peter rides into the desert, and the gunslinger keeps following. The robots pixelated vision is shown as he follows Peter.
One of the techs lets the supervisor know that the doors are electrically powered, and they can’t get out.
In a small canyon, Peter sets an ambush for the gunslinger. However, the robot sees it and gains the advantage almost killing Peter.
The techs are slowly dying for lack of air in their belowground center.
Peter runs into a technician who is stranded in the desert. The man is so scared he is of no help. The tech tells Peter that the robot has all of the new technology and has no chance. He does say acid can be used against his visual system and noise against his audio system. He tells Peter that he still doesn’t have a chance. Peter defiantly states, yes, I do. The gunslinger kills the tech as Peter rides away.
Peter rides out of Westworld into Romanworld. He has a small lead over the gunslinger because he could not be tracked while he rode in a small stream. For some reason, he leaves his horse to run through the destruction of Romanworld. He finds a manhole cover that leads to the tech area. It is reminiscent of The Time Machine (1960). Watch out for Morlocks. Peter finds that all of the techs are now dead. The gunslinger follows him underground.
Peter just happens to find a bottle of hydrochloric acid. He lays on a table and pretends to be a broken robot. He throws the acid in the robot’s face. It is not long before the gunslinger is chasing Peter again. The gunslinger’s pistol dies. Peter flees topside and ends up in the banquet hall of MedievalWorld.
It is not long until the gunslinger arrives, but his vision is damaged. When Peter gets near a torch, the gunslinger cannot see him. Peter makes a noise, and the gunslinger lunges at him. Peter sets him on fire.
Peter wanders through the castle until he finds a female chained in the dungeon begging for help. He unchains her and gets water for her. When she drinks the water, she burst into flames as she is a robot. Peter is walking away in shock when the burned gunfighter shows up again. However, it falls to the ground and finally burns out.
Peter sits on the steps in shock and exhaustion and the catchphrase for Delos “Have we got a vacation for you!” echoes in his mind.
World-Famous Short Summary – Buddy trip ends poorly
I hope you enjoyed today’s show. I really appreciate you spending the time listening. You can find connections to social media and email on my site at classicmovierev.com. There are links in the podcast show notes as well. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to Apple Podcast and give me a review. It really helps the show get found.
Beware the moors