Westworld(released Nov/73)has a good cast of actors of which to draw on and the lead belongs to Yul Brynner,as the steely robotic gunslinger who pursues his prey relentlessly during the last 1/2 hour of the picture.Before that he is seen only sporadically.As far as screen time goes his is relatively small compared to his fellow actors James Brolin(playing John Blane-boy does his son Josh look like his Dad),Richard Benjamin(Peter Martin)and Dick Van Patten who plays a meek banker.Benjamin had had a prematurely(I think)cancelled winner of a TV show with He & She,Brolin was already starring in Marcus Welby,M.D.and Dick Van Patton would in a short time be tagged for the starring role in the hit TV show Eight is Enough.
Westworld is,as the plot goes,one of three worlds set in a theme park area,the others being Medieval World and Roman World.Your price is $1,000 a day to experience life in these various true to life environments,with absolutely no risk to yourself at all.Everything is computer controlled,and to populate this world are robots,each one imbued with their own role to play and,if need be,such as sex robots,be at the disposal of its human companion.Nothing has been left to chance and every little detail down to the lowliest snake,mimics real life.The variables,and as a result the experiences,are limitless.
Into this world comes John Blane,an experienced Westworld customer,a new comer to Westworld by the name of Peter Martin,and a meek banker,name unknown.Blane coaches Martin as they first enter the park but soon Martin is getting along as good as Blane ever did.The banker takes on the exact opposite of his meek persona by becoming a sheriff.All is going well even as Martin and Blane run into a gunslinger and dispatch him with no problem,after he had provoked a confrontation in the bar.The gunslinger strangely re-enters the scene later,confronting Blane in his room(as if seeking vengeance which is "impossible")and Martin is forced to break in the door and shoot him "dead".
The incident gets Martin jailed and Blane has to come to his rescue,and the two officially become"outlaws".While sitting out in the desert contemplating their next move Blane is attacked and bitten by a robotic snake.The snake is eventually dispatched but it has left a couple of puncture wounds on Blanes arm,who isn't too impressed.Unbeknownst to the pair the technicians running the park are noticing more and more abnormal behaviour coming from robots throughout the complex.They suspect a kind of "virus" infecting the sub routines of their programming,but one they cannot put their fingers on,nor stop.The culmination of their worries comes to a head when a customer in Medieval World gets run through and killed during a sword fight.They try and shut the park down to no avail.
Martin and Blane decide eventually to return to town,tired and hungry,but are confronted by the gunslinger.Blane asks to let him take care of him this time.He draws his gun but the gunslinger is faster and more accurate and shoots him once,then twice....dead.Martin is gobsmacked and immediately runs for his life,but the gunslinger follows him...without let up.When Martin rides out of town,the gunslinger obtains a horse and does the same.Martin runs into a park worker out in the desert fixing his vehicle,who tells him there is no escape.Martin disagrees and rides off,soon after to hear two gunshots which kill the attendant.Martin makes it into Medieval World and down into a large vent.Down below he has found the central area from which the park is run and robots repaired.He discovers the park technicians presumably dead in a sealed room from which they could not escape after they shut down all power,in vain.He hides in the repair room and when the gunslinger comes in he throws acid on his face which diminishes how much he can see and detect.In another room Martin hides beneath a flaming rod on the wall and when the gunslinger locates him Martin sets him on fire.In yet another room Martin rescues a lady in distress from some chains,sits her down and gives her water,which instantly short circuits her.He is a-gasp as it was a robot.Just then the gunslinger comes in and falls to the floor,finally at its end.The film fades out as Martin sits reminiscing about the ads that prompted him to come to Westworld in the first place.
It is an intriguing plot,no doubt.To those thespians who think the more on screen time the better,think again.Yul Brynner had relatively fewer moments on the screen than his co stars,yet who do we remember to this day? Brynner of course.He played the steely eyed,emotionless gunslinger/robot to a tee.Just a glance from him could send chills and his demeanour(stiff back and walk)all added to his menace.Brolin and Benjamin play well their out-of-their-league characters.Watch for one of Star Trek's major players from TOS as Majel Barett plays a saloon madame.There are some "what was that's?" in this film,but one that baffles me is this:if the teckys are trying to restore power,cut off across the board,how is it that the computers are still running in the background and their consoles?
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 2:35:1.The picture is clear and crisp but it does show its age at times and some parts are grainy.A new print should be struck and remastered,all being equal;but what ever is in Hollywood? There are no extras.
All in all a neat Sci-Fi film from the early 70s.It has a decent plot,a few holes but the kudos have to go to the screen and stage veteran who we recall the most;the mostest with the menace,Yul Brynner.