Robots came into their own in the 1970s. Gone were the low-budget black-and-white B movies. Now robots roamed in full-color feature films with A-list actors. 1973 was the breakthrough year, introducing such classic robots as Cowboy in Westworld, the Woody Allen robot in Sleeper, and the Enforcement Cops in George Lucas’s first feature-length movie, THX 1138.
The decade moved from one stellar robot-filled sci-fi movie to another, ending the decade with Ash from Alien and the comedy duo of C-3PO and R2-D2 from the first Stars Wars movie. Beginning in the 70s, robots were no longer quirky, geeky life-size toys to keep engineers entertained. They became full-fledged screen stars, popular with everyone.
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1973: Westworld. Westworld featured Yul Brynner as a gun-slinging, black-clad Cowboy automaton robot who would allow visitors to kill him in shooting matches. The Cowboy represented Chris (also played by Yul Brynner) from the popular western, The Magnificent Seven (1960). The cold and expressionless gunslinger possessed ultra-sonic hearing and magnified, infrared vision (represented by red-tinted POV shots), demonstrating the first use in a feature film of 2-D CGI. Every night, trucks collected the robots and took them to an underground lab where they were cleaned and repaired by giant computers and lab technicians. Then, of course, everything went wrong.