The future: vacationgoers flock to Delos, where, for a thousand dollars a day, they can experience the dangers and delights of bygone eras in one of three large-scale simulations populated entirely by robots – Medieval World, Roman World, or Western World. Chicago lawyer Peter Martin decides to give the old west a try, and meets John Blane, a fellow vacationer who has visited Western World in the past, on the hovercraft flight to Delos. When they arrive, they don appropriate old west clothes and are issued real six shooters, though they’re modified so the vacation-goers can’t shoot each other, only the robots. Outfitted for their new lives as lawless cowboys, Martin and Blane step into…
The Old West: The frontier of 1880s America proves to be less luxurious than Martin expects. But after his first shootout with a mysterious gunslingers – a robot, of course – he begins to see the appeal; when Blane introduces him to robot women programmed to submit to paying customers’ sexual advances, he sees even more appeal. Other vacationers in the Roman and Medieval Worlds experience similar delights with a clear conscience, since the “locals” they are fighting, killing, or seducing are merely robots; any robots “killed” in action are repaired and returned to their scenarios. But some of the robots show increasing signs of malfunction, including disobeying their programming. The freshly repaired mysterious gunslinger kills Blane and pursues Martin even beyond the boundaries of Western World. Martin has no future to return to unless he can escape or find a way to kill his seemingly impervious pursuer.
written by Michael Crichton
directed by Michael Crichton
music by Fred Karlin
Cast: Yul Brynner (The Gunslinger), Richard Benjamin (Peter Martin), James Brolin (John Blane), Norman Bartold (Mediaval Knight), Alan Oppenheimer (Chief Supervisor), Victoria Shaw (Medieval Queen), Dick Van Patten (Banker), Linda Scott (Arlette), Steve Franken (Technician), Michael Mikler (Black Knight), Terry Wilson (Sheriff), Majel Barrett (Miss Carrie), Anne Randall (Daphne), Julie Marcus (Girl in dungeon)
Notes: The opening “TV interview” segment setting up the movie’s backstory was a very late addition to the movie, and was written by a non-union advertising executive due to a Writers’ Guild strike taking place late in production. Having scored a success with The Andromeda Strain (adapted from his own novel), Crichton made his big-screen directing debut here in addition to having written the script. (He had already directed a TV movie called Pursuit which had aired in 1972 on ABC.) With MGM calling the shots on casting, budget, and a final edit of the script, Crichton had only a month and a little over a million dollars to shoot Westworld. (Despite this, Richard Benjamin, better known for comedy roles, considers it one of his better movie-making experiences. Benjamin would go on to star in the ’70s NBC sci-fi spoof, Quark.)
Westworld also offers a rare non-Star-Trek role for Majel Barrett, the wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Yul Brynner appears in one of his final film roles before returning to the stage full-time; he would put in a cameo appearance in 1976’s sequel film, Futureworld, which which Crichton was not involved even at the story level.
LogBook entry and review by Earl Green […]