Title: Westworld (1973)
Director: Michael Crichton
Writer: Michael Crichton
Starring: Yul Brynner as The Gunslinger
James Brolin as John Blane
Richard Benjamin as Peter Martin
By Gurn Blanston
Pre-screening memories: I first saw this movie at a matinee showing with my father in the mid 70’s. We had a tradition of going on Saturday afternoons and seeing films that my Mom and sister would not have enjoyed, The Four Musketeers, Scaramouche, The Pink Panther movies. I truly believe that this is the only Sci-Fi flick my Pop would admit to enjoying.
You see, he is a cowboy at heart. He has two 22-caliber pistols and a leather holster rig to carry them in, and took horseback riding lessons a few years back, just in case there was a sun set somewhere that might need riding into. So the idea of a resort where you could actually pretend to be a cowboy and you could even shoot people – well robots that looked like people – was hugely appealing to him. I admit that the idea was not unappealing to me either, although I was more interested is visiting Medievalworld and waving my sword at the kitchen wenches.
In the film, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin, who looks a lot like a young Josh Brolin, are two city slickers that head to a resort where they can play at being cowboys and drink, gunfight and carouse with a plethora of human-appearing robots and other guests; a shout out to Dick Van Patten who plays the meek banker turned homicidal gunslinger. There are three areas you can visit, Westworld, Medievalworld, and Romanorgyworld. I’m not sure why the Roman area didn’t attract a 13-year-old Gurn more then the Medieval one did, but I’ll work that out later with my therapist. Yul Brynner stars as the black clad gunslinger robot, the original Paranoid Android, and they all have a great time shooting him full of holes. Afterwards, they retire upstairs in the saloon with some robofloozys while Yul is carted back to the tech center to be repaired so that he can appear again to be shot up again the next day.
Similar storylines are transpiring in the other areas, but it turns out that the robots are a little pissed about the abuse and turn on the vacationers. Mayhem ensues as Yul tracks Benjamin and Bolin across the park attempting to even the score. Good wins in the end, unless you were pulling for the mechanical shootist, and the robots are controlled and eliminated, only to appear in the sequel Futureworld three years later. Michael Crichton wrote and directed Westworld, not the sequel though, and I remember it being my favorite Sci-Fi movie up until Star Wars came out and blew everything else away. I have fond memories of those Saturday afternoons with Dad, just the two of us seeing films together was very important to me at the time, and Westworld will always remain one of my favorites.
Download the podcast: ‘Westworld’ featuring Jared Martin
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Our featured guest: Jared Martin
Jared was the man in command when all hell breaks loose in Westworld, perhaps it was his character’s preference of ordering lunch while the robots began their murderous rampage. Regardless, Jared continue to make an impression on viewers on television, starring in series such as Fantastic Journey, as “Lusty” Dusty Farlow in Dallas, and, Martin’s personal favorite, as the lead in the popular syndicated sci-fi series War of the Worlds as Dr. Harrison Blackwood.
Martin is the co-founder and creative director of the Big Picture Allience in Philadelphia, a non-profit youth development media program which fosters an appreciation of film in underserved communities.
Martin has many a story to share, and we were grateful to have him do so with us in this edition of Natsukashi.