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Hollywood and computers
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Hollywood and computers

Hollywood quickly adopted the computer in a number of its movies, probably starting with Desk Set. Two themes predominate: computers as part of crime and computers controlling the workplace, humans, the world, etc. Beyond those themes, Hollywood tends to focus on computer geniuses, hackers, and nerds. Geniuses tend to use the computer for revenge or to save the world, while hackers cause problems (e.g., War Games). Nerds, however, use computers to deal with their own social inadequacies. The following list of Hollywood movies is preliminary. No doubt some have been omitted.


Computers Take Over


Starring:Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina, Akim Tamiroff Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard Science Fiction. A secret agent infiltrates Alphaville, a futuristic city run by a totalitarian super-computer, in Jean-Luc Godard's political fantasy. No rating Adult situations/language, nudity, violence

Colossus: The Forbin Project

Starring:Eric Braeden, Susan Clark, William Schallert, Gordon Pinsent, Georg Stanford Brown Directed by: Joseph Sargent Science Fiction. Computer scientists are helpless when they discover that their supreme creation has joined forces with its Soviet counterpart to conquer mankind. No rating.

Demon Seed

Starring:Julie Christie, Fritz Weaver, Gerrit Graham, Robert Vaughn, Berry Kroeger, Lisa Lu Directed by: Donald Cammell Science Fiction. A scientist's computer-driven home develops a personality of its own and an unnatural lust for his wife. Rated R

Desk Set

Starring:Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Gig Young, Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill Directed by: Walter Lang Comedy- A TV network executive confronts the corporate efficiency expert sent to evaluate the station. No rating

Last Days of Man on Earth, The

Starring:Jon Finch, Patrick Magee, Sterling Hayden, Jenny Runacre, Hugh Griffith Directed by: Robert Fuest Science Fiction. When the ultimate disaster strikes, a skeptical Nobel scientist thinks that a computer buried underground can save the world. Rated R

Red Alert

Starring:William Devane, Michael Brandon, Adrienne Barbeau Directed by: William Hale Suspense. When a master computer detects a radiation leak, it seals off a nuclear power plant trapping 14 technicians inside. No rating

War Games

Starring:Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, John Wood, Ally Sheedy, Barry Corbin, Juanin Clay Directed by: John Badham Drama. A teenage computer whiz, believing he's discovered a new video game, unwittingly challenges the Defense Department's war games computer to a global thermonuclear war. Rated PG Adult situations/language, violence


Starring:Yul Brynner, James Brolin, Richard Benjamin, Norman Bartold, Alan Oppenheimer, Victoria Shaw Directed by: Michael Crichton Science Fiction. A computer malfunction results in bloodshed when the robots at an adult fantasy park turn on their human visitors. Rated PG Adult situations/language, violence

2001:A Space Odyssey

Starring:Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter, Leonard Rossiter, Margaret Tyzack Directed by: Stanley Kubrick Science Fiction. Astronauts investigating a puzzling lunar monolith must contend with HAL, an on-board computer trying to take control of their vessel in this adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's short story. Rated G Violence

Computer Geniuses and Crime

Bellman and True

Starring:Bernard Hill, Derek Newark, Kieran O'Brien, Richard Hope, Frances Tomelty, John Kavanagh Directed by: Richard Loncraine Drama. British underworld figures kidnap the stepson of an alcoholic computer genius to ensure his involvement in a planned bank heist. Rated R Adult situations/language, nudity, violence

Buy & Cell

Starring:Robert Carradine, Michael Winslow, Malcolm McDowell, Lise Cutter, Randall "Tex" Cobb, Ben Vereen Directed by: Robert Boris Comedy. A nerdy computer genius, wrongly imprisoned for corporate fraud, uses his technical background to beat the stock market with his fellow inmates. Rated R Adult situations/language, nudity, violence

Deadly Impact

Starring: Bo Svenson, Fred Williamson Directed by: Larry Ludman Drama. Police officers on the trail of a computer genius's killer use the victim's fail-safe method of rigging Las Vegas slot machines to their own advantage. No rating Adult situations/language, violence

Hot Millions

Starring:Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith, Karl Malden, Bob Newhart, Robert Morley, Cesar Romero Directed by: Eric Till Comedy. An ex-con assumes the identity of a noted computer genius as part of an elaborate scheme to embezzle a large corporation's fortune.

Man, a Woman and a Bank, A

Starring: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams Directed by: Noel Black Adventure. Two clever con artists join forces and wits to mastermind the robbery of a bank by using a sophisticated computer. Rated PG Adult situations/language

Rosalie Goes Shopping

Starring:Marianne Sagebrecht, Brad Davis, Judge Reinhold Directed by: Percy Adlon Comedy. A naive German immigrant uses 37 credit cards, fraud, forgery and a super-computer to beat the system in this spoof on consumerism. Rated PG Adult situations/language

Superman III

Starring:Christopher Reeve, Richard Pryor, Annette O'Toole Directed by: Richard Lester Adventure. Clark Kent's hometown class reunion is disrupted when a power-hungry villain blackmails a meek computer genius into a scheme to destroy Superman. Rated PG Adult situations/language, violence

Terminal Choice

Starring:Diane Venora, Ellen Barkin, Joe Spano Directed by: Sheldon Larry Suspense. An investigation into the alarming increase of a clinic's patient death toll points to foul play with the hospitals computer network. Rated R Adult situations/language, violence

Thief Who Came to Dinner, The

Starring:Ryan O'Neal, Jacqueline Bisset, Warren Oates, Jill Clayburgh, Charles Cioffi, Ned Beatty Directed by: Bud Yorkin Comedy. A Houston-based computer genius uses the skills of his profession to enhance his nighttime activities as a sophisticated jewel thief. Rated PG Adult situations/language

Computer Error Makes Plot


Starring:Cathy Lee Crosby, Michael Biehn, Keenan Wynn Directed by: Bud Townsend Comedy. Through a computer error an attractive female athlete is hired to coach a boys' high-school basketball team. Rated PG

Joke of Destiny, A

Starring: Ugo Tognazzi, Piera Degli Esposti Directed by: Lina Wertmuller Comedy. A malfunction in his computerized limousine forces an Italian politico to seek refuge in a rival's garage overflowing with outrageous characters. Rated PG Adult situations/language

Computers and/or Computer Nerds Do Good

Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The

Starring:Kurt Russell, Cesar Romero, Joe Flynn Directed by: Robert Butler Adventure. Disney. After accidentally gaining access to a college's computer system, a student reveals some facts concerning gambling joints owned by a local businessman. Rated G. Comment from a CBI web lurker: "The student doesn't "accidentally gain access" to the computer, the computer's soul enters the student and he becomes the computer... (the best part of that film is the song in the beginning, and the animation that illustrates it...)

Edge, The

Starring: Simon Henri, Jan Taylor Drama. A computer expert attempts to track down a hijacked American plane whose cargo includes a nuclear bomb. No rating

Human Factor, The

Starring: George Kennedy, John Mills, Raf Vallone Directed by: Edward Dmytryk Drama. A computer expert uses his technical knowledge to track down his family's killers. Rated R

Jumpin' Jack Flash

Starring:Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Collins, John Wood, Carol Kane, Annie Potts, Peter Michael Goetz Directed by: Penny Marshall Comedy. A Manhattan computer operator's life is turned upside down when a British intelligence agent trapped in Eastern Europe starts sending messages through her terminal. Rated R Adult situations/language, violence

Knight Rider

Starring: David Hasselhoff, Edward Mulhare, Phyllis Davis, Richard Basehart, Vince Edwards, Pamela Susan Shoop Directed by: Daniel Haller Drama. An eccentric millionaire saves the life of a mortally wounded policeman, changing his identity and giving him a computer-controlled car to help in the quest for justice. No rating

Last Chase, The

Starring:Lee Majors, Chris Makepeace, Burgess Meredith Directed by: Martyn Burke Science Fiction. In a world of the future, a former race-car driver and a teenage computer expert fight the government's proscription of automobiles. Rated PG Adult situations/language, nudity, violence

Time Machine, The

Starring:John Beck, Andrew Duggan, Priscilla Barnes, Rosemary DeCamp, Jack Kruschen Directed by: Henning Schellerup Science Fiction. Based on the novel by H.G. Wells. A computer genius devises a unique vehicle that carries him to a futuristic society involved in rebellion against subterranean "farmers". No rating

Computer Industry and Salespersons

Malibu Express

Starring:Darby Hinton, Sybil Danning, Barbara Edwards Directed by: Andy Sidaris Comedy. Assigned to investigate a computer company's shady business dealings, a Texan finds himself in the middle of a spy caper. Rated R Adult situations/language, nudity

Just Me and You

Starring:Louise Lasser, Charles Grodin, Julie Bovasso, Paul Fix, Dave Thomas Directed by: John Erman Comedy. A computer salesman and an eccentric New Yorker share an enlightening four-day cross-country trip from New York to California. No rating


Starring:Albert Finney, James Coburn, Susan Dey, Leigh Taylor-Young, Dorian Harewood, Darryl Hickman Directed by: Michael Crichton Science Fiction. A plastic surgeon, troubled by the deaths of several of his former patients, investigates an ad agency that specializes in computer-generated TV commercials. Rated PG Adult situations/language, nudity, violence

View to a Kill, A

Starring:Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Patrick Macnee, Desmond Llewellyn Directed by: John Glen Adventure. British agent James Bond attempts to thwart a genetically superior industrialist whose diabolical plans of becoming czar of the computer industry are nearing completion. Rated PG Adult situations/language, violence

Computers, Love, and Sex

Dangerous Love

Starring:Lawrence Monoson, Brenda Bakke, Peter Marc, Elliott Gould, Anthony Geary, Sal Landi Directed by: Marty Ollstein Suspense. Suspicion falls on an unlucky computer expert whose video-dating membership coincides with a rash of client murders. Rated R Adult situations/language, nudity, violence

Electric Dreams

Starring:Lenny Von Dohlen, Virginia Madsen, Bud Cort, Maxwell Caulfield Directed by: Steve Barron Comedy. An unusual love triangle develops when a bumbling San Francisco architect programs his personal computer to compose love songs for the captivating cellist in the apartment downstairs. Rated PG Adult situations/language


Starring:John Allen Nelson, Deborah Shelton, James Coco, Steve Levitt, Robert Morse, Avery Schreiber Directed by: Lawrence Bassoff Comedy. A nerdy computer operator is transformed into a muscular blond hunk after striking a deal with the devil. Rated PG Adult situations/language

Rachel Papers, The

Starring:Dexter Fletcher, Ione Skye, Jonathan Pryce, James Spader, Bill Patterson, Lesley Sharp Directed by: Damian Harris Comedy-Drama. A teenager uses his knowledge of computers to aid his romantic endeavors after falling for a young woman. Rated R Adult situations/language, nudity

Tin Man

Starring:Timothy Bottoms, Deana Jurgens, Troy Donahue, John Phillip Law Directed by: John G. Thomas Drama. A computer genius falls in love with his speech therapist who helps him regain his hearing and market his computer inventions. No rating Adult situations/language, nudity

Weird Science

Starring: Anthony Michael Hall, Kelly LeBrock, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Bill Paxton, Suzanne Snyder, Judie Aronson Directed by: John Hughes Comedy. Two high-school nerds accidentally create the woman of their dreams when an electrical storm short circuits their home computer. Rated PG-13 Adult situations/language, nudity

Life Becomes Computers


Starring:Richard Moll, Jeffrey Byron, Leslie Wing Directed by: Charles Band, David Allen Fantasy. An evil being draws a computer whiz and his girlfriend into an alternate universe of monsters and magic. Rated PG-13 Adult situations/language, violence

Lawnmower Man, The

Starring:Jeff Fahey, Pierce Brosnan, Jenny Wright, Geoffrey Lewis, Jeremy Slate Directed by: Brett Leonard Science Fiction. A mentally retarded gardener's assistant becomes a guinea pig for an experiment with computer simulated virtual reality. Adapted from a Stephen King story. With live action and animation. Rated R Adult situations/language, sexual situations, violence


Starring:Jeff Bridges, David Warner, Bruce Boxleitner, Cindy Morgan, Barnard Hughes, Dan Shor
Directed by: Steven Lisberger
Fantasy. Disney. Computer animation highlights this story of a video-game programmer who becomes a prisoner in a computerized world where survival rests on his mastery of
deadly electronic games. Rated PG Violence

Robots and Cybernauts

And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird

Starring:Marcia Strassman, Joshua Miller, Edan Gross
Directed by: Tony Cookson Science Fiction.
The dead father of two computer whizzes comes back to inhabit a robot they have created. Rated PG


Starring:Mary Beth Hurt, Michael McKean, Barret Oliver, Kathryn Walker, Colleen Camp, Josef Sommer
Directed by: Simon Wincer
Science Fiction. Army officials descend on a suburban home where a laboratory   escapee -- a boy with a computerized brain -- is trying to blend into society. Rated PG Adult situations/language, violence

Deadly Friend

Starring:Matthew Laborteaux, Kristy Swanson, Anne Twomey, Richard Marcus, Anne Ramsey
Directed by: Wes Craven
Horror. A 15-year old genius's plans to implant a computer brain into the body of a dead friend take a terrifying turn. Rated R Adult situations/language, violence

Spaced Out

Starring: Barry Stokes, Tony Maiden
Directed by: Norman J. Warren
Comedy. Four earthlings are imprisoned by a trio of women from another planet and are guarded by a seemingly intoxicated computerized psychiatrist. Rated R Adult situations/language, nudity

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Comments, questions, suggestions to: hoft0003@umn.edu
Updated: July 08, 2003