When, in 1973, MGM, once the titan of Hollywood studios, found itself on the ropes after a string of flops, a tiny film saved the studio from oblivion.
With $1.25 million to work with, novelist turned first-time screenwriter and director Michael Crichton created a darkly humorous contemporary Sci-Fi Western, about a high-priced ($1,000 a day!) resort where wannabe cowboys could live out their fantasies—be heroes or villains, guns blazing! Best of all, because realistic, but remotely controlled robots populated the place, nobody could get hurt. That is, until one robot, played by Yul Brynner, in his The Magnificent Seven garb, got fed up with letting the tourists outdraw him. Other robots soon began malfunctioning in a deadly way.
Westworld, starring James Brolin and Dick Benjamin as businessmen who might have to die for their fantasies, was a smash with filmgoers, but especially with fans of Westerns, because the 1973 film created a completely plausible world that they were desperate to enter. The movie spawned a sequel, a short-lived CBS series and passionate fans.
But Jonathan Nolan, writer-director of the new HBO series Westworld, notes that the movie spawned much more: “The original film anticipates Terminator and video games and artificial intelligence—so many ideas packed into that film. I probably shouldn’t have watched when I was eight: Yul Brynner haunted