The first trip to ‘Westworld’ remains eventful

Decades runs marathon of acclaimed police drama

It inspired a more complex HBO series that is starting a new season, but the original 1973 movie “Westworld” — which HBO presents Thursday, June 30 — remains clever and entertaining in its own right almost 50 years later. Written and directed by Michael Crichton, who also gave the world (as a bestselling novelist) “Jurassic Park,” it introduced the technologically advanced vacation site Delos, where guests can choose to be cowboys or knights amid lifelike robots designed to fulfill fantasies.

That doesn’t mean the androids won’t go haywire, though, and they sure do while two pals (Richard Benjamin, James Brolin) are sampling the Old West-themed part of the park. A particular problem is a black-clothed gunslinger (Yul Brynner, in a savvy parody of his role in “The Magnificent Seven”) who simply won’t stop in his pursuit of the visitors … and he’s armed with real bullets.

More Retro Rewinds

“Cocktail” (Paramount+, streaming): To see just how far Tom Cruise’s charisma can carry a movie, check this 1988 drama in which he does much to enhance a paper-thin plot. He plays a military veteran who lands a bartending job and starts a hot-and-cold relationship with a privileged young woman (Elisabeth Shue). Bryan Brown also makes his mark as Cruise’s questionable mentor; the soundtrack includes two hits, Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo.”

“Glee” (Hulu, streaming): One of television’s most popular shows during its original run, executive producer Ryan Murphy’s music-fueled comedy-drama centers on the trials and victories of a high school glee club. It brought its stars massive popularity, though Lea Michele already had a certain amount of fame from Broadway’s “Spring Awakening.” Chris Colfer, Heather Morris, Kevin McHale, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison and the late Cory Monteith and Naya Rivera also are in the ensemble cast.

“Witness” (EPIX, Thursday, June 30): At a time when he could do no wrong in his career, with a virtual catalog of popular characters, Harrison Ford added another by playing Philadelphia  police detective John Book … whose discovery of a killer in his department forces him to hide out in an Amish community that includes the youngster (Lukas Haas) who witnessed the murder. Director Peter Weir’s excellent 1985 drama also features Kelly McGillis, Alexander Godunov and Danny Glover.

“The Twilight Zone” (Decades, Saturday, July 2): Marathons of Rod Serling’s revered fantasy series have become traditions of many holiday weekends, and another one will mark this year’s Fourth of July celebration. Opening the “Weekend Binge” event: “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” about a tranquil neighborhood set on edge by a youngster’s suggestion that some of the residents actually might be aliens. The cast includes Claude Akins and Jack Weston.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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