In 1984, the same year that Ghostbusters was released, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd appeared in another science fiction comedy — but chances are good you’ve never seen it. Nothing Lasts Forever was the feature directorial debut of Tom Schiller, the longtime Saturday Night Live contributor known for his “Schiller’s Reel” segments (the early predecessor of “SNL Digital Shorts”). Aside from a single test screening, the MGM movie never had a theatrical release in the United States, and hasn’t been put out on DVD or home video. Occasionally, it surfaces at a film festival or independent theater. Now, thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can now watch the whole thing online. (Hat tip to Dangerous Minds.)
Described by Schiller as “the weird movie I’d always wanted to make,” Nothing Lasts Forever is similar to his SNL shorts in that it mimics classic Hollywood movies — grainy stock, musical numbers, and all. Zach Galligan (Gremlins) stars as an aspiring artist who moves to New York City, only to be denied a “creativity license” by the totalitarian government. Forced to work for a dystopian Port Authority, he joins an underground network of nonconformists who plan to drive a city bus to the moon. Richard Metzger at Dangerous Minds compares the film to “Terry Gilliam’s Brazil…with a hefty dollop of Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 thrown in for good measure.”
It’s an odd movie, but that’s not necessarily why it disappeared for all these years. More likely, its use of vintage footage created too many copyright issues to justify a home version. Nevertheless, Schiller told the AV Club in 2010 that Warner Bros. is “always threatening” a DVD release. One of the movie’s biggest advocates is Murray, who has called Schiller “one of the few people I think of as being truly brilliant” and expressed hope that he’ll one day make another feature.
Photo credit: MGM/Screengrab