Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Overlooked Films: Westworld

I had low expectations for this one. I mean, hey, it was released in 1973, and it's science fiction, so I expected heaping helpings of cheese. It was quite a shock, then, to find it almost cheese-free.

The music, the cinematography, the costumes, the special effects and the script (by Michael Crichton, no less) all hold up well. The only time the film looks somewhat dated is when we're taken to the control room, where vast banks of Time Tunnel-style computers line the walls.

The only thing I found slightly cheesy was the first-half performance by Richard Benjamin, who, despite getting second billing behind Yul Brynner, snagged most of the screen time. He's the giddy first-time visitor, guided by the steady hand of his pal Josh Brolin, who's been to Western World before. All that giddiness is a bit hard to take (especially if you don't like Richard Benjamin much to begin with), but it's almost worth it later, as we see him grow a pair and finish the film with a strong character arc.

And there are two interesting guest appearances. One by Majel Barrett (Mrs. Gene Roddenberry) as the madame at the saloon/whorehouse, and the other by Yul Brynner's cowboy outfit, which is supposedly the same one he wore in The Magnificent Seven.

So. I ain't saying Westworld is a great film, but it's still fun, and almost as entertaining as it was 39 years ago.

More Overlooked Films and stuff, as usual, at SWEET FREEDOM.


Deka Black said...

I remember watching this movie as a kid and being scared of robots during alooong time. Luckily, R2-D2 came and now i'm in peace with robots again.

Brian Busby said...

Westworld is one of this films that seems almost overly ripe for a remake. I understand that Warner Brothers has been planing the thing for nearly two decades. You'd think the actual theme park could've been built in that time.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I remember this one well. And the other one--was it FUTURE WORLD?

Todd Mason said...

The sequel was indeed FUTUREWORLD. Evan, I'm surprised you managed to miss this one for so long.

Evan Lewis said...

I did see this back in '73, but didn't expect it to live up to my memory. The 70s, after all, was an extremely cheesy decade.

Richard Prosch said...

One of my all time favorites from the time. My parents went to see it, leaving me home to read Marvel's CRAZY magazine parody (No. 5 --funny cover based on the movie poster) so I had to wait for it to land on TV. Despite Peter Fonda's presence, I don't think the sequel was half as good.

Anonymous said...

> guided by the steady hand of his pal Josh Brolin

James Brolin not Josh Brolin.