Film Review – WESTWORLD (1973)

WESTWORLD (1973, USA, 88m, 15) ***½
Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Western
dist. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) (USA), MGM-EMI (UK); pr co. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM); d. Michael Crichton; w. Michael Crichton; pr. Paul N. Lazarus III; ph. Gene Polito (Metrocolor | 2.39:1); m. Fred Karlin; ed. David Bretherton; ad. Herman A. Blumenthal.
cast: Yul Brynner (Gunslinger), Richard Benjamin (Peter Martin), James Brolin (John Blane), Norman Bartold (Medieval Knight), Alan Oppenheimer (Chief Supervisor), Victoria Shaw (Medieval Queen), Dick Van Patten (Banker), Linda Gaye Scott (Arlette), Steve Franken (Technician), Michael T. Mikler (Black Knight), Terry Wilson (Sheriff), Majel Barrett (Miss Carrie), Anne Randall (Daphne), Julie Marcus (Girl in Dungeon), Sharyn Wynters (Apache Girl), Anne Bellamy (Middle Aged Woman), Chris Holter (Stewardess), Charles Seel (Bellhop), Wade Crosby (Bartender), Jared Martin (Technician).
Michael Crichton wrote and directed this tale set in a futuristic theme park where paying guests can pretend to be gunslingers in artificial Wild West, Roman and Medieval settings populated by androids. After paying a sizable entrance fee, Brolin and Benjamin are determined to unwind by hitting saloons and shooting guns. But when the system malfunctions the escapist fantasy suddenly takes a dark turn. Crichton builds his setting with humour and not-so subtle comments on fantasy fulfilment, but it is not until the system failure, embodied by Brynner’s steely cold robot gunslinger, that the story catches fire. The finale, with Brynner’s relentless pursuit of Benjamin, is full of tension and can be seen as a major influence on John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978) and James Cameron’s THE TERMINATOR (1984). Crichton himself would revisit his plot in a different setting for his novel “Jurassic Park”, which was sensationally filmed in 1993 by Steven Spielberg. Followed by FUTUREWORLD (1976). Later adapted for TV as Beyond Westworld (1980) and Westworld (2016- ).

TV Movie Review – McCLOUD: ENCOUNTER WITH ARIES (1971)

McCloud : Encounter with Aries (1971) - Russ Mayberry | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related | AllMovieMcCLOUD: ENCOUNTER WITH ARIES (TV) (1971, USA) ***½
Crime, Drama, Mystery
Network: NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMPANY (NBC) (USA); production company: UNIVERSAL TELEVISION; director: RUSS MAYBERRY; writer: PETER ALLAN FIELDS; producer: DEAN HARGROVE; associate producer: PETER ALLAN FIELDS; director of photography: WILLIAM MARGULIES (Technicolor | 35mm | Spherical | 1.37:1); music: DICK DEBENEDICTIS; film editor: BYRON ‘BUZZ’ BRANDT; art director: WILLIAM H. TUNTKE; set decorator: JOSEPH J. STONE; costumes: GRADY HUNT; sound: EDWIN S. HALL (Mono); broadcast date: 22 SEPTEMBER 1971 (USA); BBFC cert: PG; running time: 76 MINS.
Cast: DENNIS WEAVER (Sam McCloud), J.D. CANNON (Peter B. Clifford), SEBASTIAN CABOT (Sidney Cantrell), PETER HASKELL (Richard Stevens), SUSAN STRASBERG (Lorraine), LOUISE LATHAM (Emily Cantrell), ALAN OPPENHEIMER (Mervin Simmons), TERRY CARTER (Det. Joe Broadhurst), ROBERT HOGAN (Detective Finnegan), JILL JARESS (Gloria), BOOTH COLMAN (Hines), WOODROW PARFREY (Elmer), ELISHA COOK JR. (Mr. Rafer), FORREST LEWIS (Old Man), FRED HOLLIDAY (Intern), ELIZABETH LANE (Nurse), ATHENA LORDE (Floor Nurse), NANCY JERIS (Marie), JAMES GAVIN (Policeman).
The kidnapping of a woman (Latham) who is married to a wealthy astrologer (Cabot) — and the appearance of her kidnapper (Haskell), who claims she is being held in a room with a ticking time bomb — spur the woman’s husband to bash in the kidnapper’s head with a vase. This leaves McCloud (Weaver) with a limited time to determine where the woman is and who is really behind the kidnapping. This was the first episode following the transition of McCloud from its one-hour slot as part of the Four-in-One wheel to a regular rotation as part of the NBC Mystery Movie series. The story is a strong one with elements of mystery and humour. By now the role of McCloud fits the charming Weaver as well as his cowboy boots and his sparring with Cannon is always a joy to watch. A good script by Fields, tight direction from Mayberry and the casting of Cabot as the astrologer also help make this an above average mystery movie.