Tag Archives: Weird Westerns

Patrick Hargadon is Yul Brynner’s Gunslinger

Yul Brynner in Futureworld

Writer Patrick Hargadon is obsessed with having a good view in the cinema, but has always been thwarted by people with large heads or big hair. His first film memory is watching Hitchcock’s Rope on television, but being told to turn it off to go to bed. This curtailed watching experience has led to countless viewing of Maya Deren’s and Alexander Hammid’s experimental film Meshes of the Afternoon in the hope of getting to grips with the avant-garde. He is currently working on a non-fiction book: 366 Grand Things To Do When the Sky Is Grey and You’re Feeling Blue. His alter ego of choice is Yul Brynner as The Gunslinger in Futureworld (1976). EITHNE FARRY

There are moments in life when being Yul Brynner in Futureworld would be very useful. You’d just get things done quicker and more effectively. I’m not really the gun-toting lunatic type though, just sometimes in my mind when I’m angry. But I’d rather be Yul Brynner as the Gunslinger. I think it’s the lasso-dancing with Gwyneth Paltrow’s mum that impressed me the most. I have never before been so amazed by a fantasy sequence. Blythe Danner sits in a large contraption that records her dreams. She’s obviously got some problems as her unconscious makes her run around an empty house in a floral dress only to be captured by men in red body stockings and then be tied to a large cross. Yul saves the day, not only untying her but also lassoing her into what can only be described as a dance of love, all the time keeping those little shiny eyes fixed on her in a permanent glare. He may be a gun-crazy psychopathic robot killer, but his android heart beats a rhythm that makes this lady just wanna dance. Well, you might, after narrowly escaping crucifixion. It’s the only sequence I know where the invincibility of a male superhuman gone mad is undone by a starring role in a middle-aged woman’s hot flush. At the end of the scene, the scientists explain to Blythe’s boyfriend that she will need some rest so they aren’t going to wake her up immediately – understandable given the range of her imagination. So the Gunslinger exits into the distance to fight another day, or perhaps not, as it is only truly at this moment that the cryptic tagline of the film makes precise sense: ‘Futureworld – where the only way to survive is to kill yourself.’

Patrick Hargadon