Westworld (1973)

PG | 88-89 or 91 mins | Science fiction, Western | 1973

Director:

Michael Crichton

Cinematographer:

Gene Polito

Production Designer:

Herman Blumenthal

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
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HISTORY

Before the opening credits roll, an ad for Delos appears featuring testimonials from guests who have visited the Delos theme parks. At the end of the film, as "Peter Martin," the only survivor, sits on the steps of Medieval World, an offscreen announcer extols the "enticements of Delos World." Michael Crichton's onscreen credit reads "Written and directed by." Claude Binyon, Jr.'s onscreen credit reads "Unit production manager and Assistant director." Closing credits note that the "Roman World Sequences Filmed at Harold Lloyd Estate, Beverly Hills, CA."
       According to studio publicity contained in the film's file at the AMPAS Library, location shooting was done at the Sherwood Lake Ranch and in the Mojave Desert, California. A Nov 1973 article in AmCin added that the western street was filmed on the backlot of Warner Bros. studios. AmCin also noted that Yul Brynner wore silver metallic contact lenses throughout filming to attain his robot-like gaze. Although a DV news item noted that Julie Bennett had been signed for the cast, and a modern source adds Barry Cahill, Mindi Miller, Robert Nichols, Leoda Richards and Paul Sorenson to the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       Westworld marked the motion picture directorial debut of Crichton (1942--2008). In the AmCin article, Crichton stated that he was inspired by the idea of a machine that looks, talks and acts like a person. Crichton originally had tried to write a novel based on that theme, but eventually decided that it would work better as a motion picture about people acting out their movie ... More Less

Before the opening credits roll, an ad for Delos appears featuring testimonials from guests who have visited the Delos theme parks. At the end of the film, as "Peter Martin," the only survivor, sits on the steps of Medieval World, an offscreen announcer extols the "enticements of Delos World." Michael Crichton's onscreen credit reads "Written and directed by." Claude Binyon, Jr.'s onscreen credit reads "Unit production manager and Assistant director." Closing credits note that the "Roman World Sequences Filmed at Harold Lloyd Estate, Beverly Hills, CA."
       According to studio publicity contained in the film's file at the AMPAS Library, location shooting was done at the Sherwood Lake Ranch and in the Mojave Desert, California. A Nov 1973 article in AmCin added that the western street was filmed on the backlot of Warner Bros. studios. AmCin also noted that Yul Brynner wore silver metallic contact lenses throughout filming to attain his robot-like gaze. Although a DV news item noted that Julie Bennett had been signed for the cast, and a modern source adds Barry Cahill, Mindi Miller, Robert Nichols, Leoda Richards and Paul Sorenson to the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       Westworld marked the motion picture directorial debut of Crichton (1942--2008). In the AmCin article, Crichton stated that he was inspired by the idea of a machine that looks, talks and acts like a person. Crichton originally had tried to write a novel based on that theme, but eventually decided that it would work better as a motion picture about people acting out their movie fantasies.
       Westworld became a box-office success, grossing over $2,000,000 in its opening week, according to an Aug 1973 DV news item. According to an article in the Jun 1974 edition of In Touch , the film's success was the result of M-G-M's roadshow strategy, which the company named a "regional blitzkrieg" campaign. An Aug 1973 Var news item explained that on 17 and 19 Aug, M-G-M opened the film for simultaneous exhibition at over 250 regional first-run theaters. There were no advanced screenings for critics, ensuring that negative reviews would not hurt the box office. In Sep, following the success of that initial two-week period, M-G-M planned to launch the film in another 200 theaters, noted a 24 Aug 1973 DV news item.
       In 1976, American International Pictures produced Futureworld , a sequel to Westworld , directed by Richard T. Heffron and starring Peter Fonda and Blythe Danner. Westworld also served as the basis for the CBS television series Beyond Westworld , which aired from 5 Mar--19 Mar 1980. According to a Mar 2002 DV news item, Arnold Schwarzenegger was signed to produce and star in a remake of Westworld , but dropped out of the project after he was elected governor of California. As of Sep 2008, the Warner Bros. remake, which was attached to director Tarsem Singh, is still in development.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
AmCin
Nov 1973
pp. 1393--1438.
Box Office
19 Nov 1973
p. 4642.
Daily Variety
19 Jun 1973.
---
Daily Variety
24 Aug 1973
p. 1, 6.
Daily Variety
14 Mar 2002.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 1973
p. 30.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 1973
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 1973
p. 3, 10.
In Touch
Jun 1974.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
24 Oct 1973
Section B, p 1.
Los Angeles Times
24 Oct 1973.
---
New York Times
22 Nov 1973
p. 51.
Variety
15 Aug 1973
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Ward supv
Womens' ward
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff coord
Automated image processing
Automated image processing
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Casting
STAND INS
Action seq coord
DETAILS
Release Date:
1973
Premiere Information:
Roadshow opening: 17 August 1973
Los Angeles opening: 24 October 1973
New York opening: 21 November 1973
Production Date:
5 March--mid April 1973
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Copyright Date:
15 August 1973
Copyright Number:
LP42879
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Metrocolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
88-89 or 91
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Sometime in the future, a company called Delos offers travelers luxury vacation packages that allow them to chose among the three gigantic theme parks of Westworld, Medieval World or Roman World. For $1,000 a day, vacationers may indulge their wildest fantasies of living in the Old West, a medieval castle complete with dungeon or the lush villas of Rome. On the hovercraft trip to the theme parks, two friends, Peter Martin and John Blane, discuss the virtues of their destination, Westworld. Peter, a recently divorced lawyer, eagerly questions John, who had previously visited Westworld, about his experiences there. John explains that the world is inhabited by robots, which are perfectly lifelike except for the appearance of their hands, which have not yet been perfected. Upon arriving at Westworld, Peter, John and a fellow tourist, a bespectacled middle-aged banker, are outfitted with blue jeans, boots, Stetson hats and guns. They then are driven by stagecoach to the Grand Hotel where Peter is shocked by the rustic accommodations, but John reassures him that they are in keeping with the Old West. At the local saloon, when Peter orders a martini, the bar tender is stymied about how to make the drink until John suggests a slug of whiskey instead. As Peter chokes on the harsh-tasting alcohol, a gunslinger dressed in black strides into the saloon and begins to taunt him. John advises Peter to kill the gunslinger, and encouraged by his friend, Peter challenges his tormentor, shooting the gunslinger dead in the ensuing gunfight. That night at the bordello, John urges his friend to have sex with a prostitute, and although ... +


Sometime in the future, a company called Delos offers travelers luxury vacation packages that allow them to chose among the three gigantic theme parks of Westworld, Medieval World or Roman World. For $1,000 a day, vacationers may indulge their wildest fantasies of living in the Old West, a medieval castle complete with dungeon or the lush villas of Rome. On the hovercraft trip to the theme parks, two friends, Peter Martin and John Blane, discuss the virtues of their destination, Westworld. Peter, a recently divorced lawyer, eagerly questions John, who had previously visited Westworld, about his experiences there. John explains that the world is inhabited by robots, which are perfectly lifelike except for the appearance of their hands, which have not yet been perfected. Upon arriving at Westworld, Peter, John and a fellow tourist, a bespectacled middle-aged banker, are outfitted with blue jeans, boots, Stetson hats and guns. They then are driven by stagecoach to the Grand Hotel where Peter is shocked by the rustic accommodations, but John reassures him that they are in keeping with the Old West. At the local saloon, when Peter orders a martini, the bar tender is stymied about how to make the drink until John suggests a slug of whiskey instead. As Peter chokes on the harsh-tasting alcohol, a gunslinger dressed in black strides into the saloon and begins to taunt him. John advises Peter to kill the gunslinger, and encouraged by his friend, Peter challenges his tormentor, shooting the gunslinger dead in the ensuing gunfight. That night at the bordello, John urges his friend to have sex with a prostitute, and although Peter is first repulsed at the idea of having sex with a machine, he loosens up as soon as she climbs into bed with him. Later, as the guests sleep, a crew of technicians collect the bodies of the robots that have been killed in various gunfights with the guests. The robots are then brought to the subterranean control center for refurbishing. In the central control room, the Chief Supervisor observes that there has been a high degree of malfunction in the robots during the last six weeks. The next day, the gunslinger enters John and Peter’s hotel room while Peter is taking a bath. After finishing his bath, Peter walks down the hallway outside their door and when he hears the gunslinger threatening John, breaks down the door and kills the gunslinger again. Although John protests that Peter killed the gunslinger in self-defense, the sheriff jails him anyway and warns that the hanging judge will be arriving next week. John then sends a young Indian woman to the jailhouse to deliver a tray of food to Peter. Underneath the cloth covering the tray, John has hidden a bomb, which Peter uses to blast out the side of the jail house and escape. John is waiting outside with a pair of horses, and after shooting down the sheriff, they ride out of town, chuckling that they are now desperadoes and with the sheriff dead, they can do whatever they want. In the hills outside town, a rattlesnake strikes John, alarming the technicians, who monitor the action occurring above ground through omnipresent cameras that dot the landscape, because the snakes have been programmed never to strike the guests. That night after John and Peter return to town, they engage in a rowdy fight at the saloon. Afterward, the technicians gather the beaten bodies of the robots for refurbishing, taking with them the gunslinger, in whom they plan to install new devices that will give him acute visual and aural perception. Meanwhile, in Medieval World, a guest posing as a knight tries to seduce a server girl robot, and when the robot responds by slapping the knight’s face instead of yielding to his passions, the technicians bring the robot in for examination but can find no evidence of malfunction. Later, the robot Black Knight challenges the guest knight to a duel with swords, and when the Black Knight thrusts his sword into the guest’s stomach, killing him, the alarmed technicians shut down the grid that powers the robots. Unaware of what has been happening, John and Peter encounter the gunslinger waiting for them in the street. Bored with shooting him down in a quick draw, John nonchalantly draws his gun and Peter watches in horror as the gunslinger shoots his friend in the heart. Jumping onto his horse, Peter rides into the desert with the gunslinger in relentless pursuit. As all the robots in Delos World run amok, the technicians find themselves trapped behind the locked doors of the control room, their oxygen slowly running out as the temperature begins to rise. Coming across a technician stranded in the desert, Peter asks for help. Although the technician remarks that acid might blind the gunslinger, he warns that the robots have gone crazy and that there is no chance of getting out alive. Soon after Peter rides away, the gunslinger appears and kills the technician. Peter rides to Roman World, where he finds the bodies of slaughtered guests scattered throughout the grounds. Discovering a capped entrance to a tunnel, Peter pries off the lid, then climbs down a ladder that leads to the subterranean corridors of the control room area. Peeking through a lab door, Peter sees that all the technicians have died. Knowing that the gunslinger is still following him, Peter slips into the robot lab where he spots a bottle of acid. Grabbing the acid, Peter lies prone on one of the operating tables, and when the gunslinger enters, tosses the acid in his face. The gunslinger’s face begins to smoke and sizzle, and while the robot is temporarily disabled, Peter runs down a corridor that leads to Medieval World. In the banquet room, he finds the immobilized robots of the Black Knight and the Queen and the body of the dead tourist. The gunslinger then arrives, but his vision has been impaired by the acid and the torches lining the walls make it difficult for him to locate Peter in the room. Peter takes advantage of this weakness, and when the gunslinger charges, he grabs a torch from the wall and sets the robot on fire. Peter continues walking until he comes to a dungeon in which a young woman has been chained and is begging for help. After releasing her, Peter offers her a dipper of water, and when she resists it, he tries to pour it into her mouth, sending sparks flying. Peter then realizes that she is a robot, too. After she dies, the charred figure of the gunfighter appears, reaches out toward Peter, then falls over and gets up, the front of his face now missing. Once the gunslinger shorts out, Peter wearily lowers himself onto the steps. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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