Movie Pick of the Moment: NOTHING LASTS FOREVER (1984)

A whimsical tribute to young love, young artists, and the films of the 1930s, Nothing Lasts Forever could best be described as a friendlier version of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1984).

A naïve young man (Zach Galligan, Gremlins) aspires to be an artist in an alternate New York City ruled by the dictatorial Port Authority. The Authority has banned all artistic expressions that don’t adhere to their strict definition of what art should be. After failing the Authority’s art exam, the young man gets a stultifying job as an inspector at the Holland Tunnel. His quest for artistic enlightenment takes him to the Center of the Earth, where he discovers an advanced civilization headed by the sage Father Knickerbocker, the living embodiment of New York City (Sam Jaffe, wonderfully rehashing his iconic role of the High Llama from 1937’s Lost Horizon). He also hitches a ride on a seniors’ bus to Miami. But it’s really an interstellar space bus to the Moon, which looks suspiciously like Hawaii. There he falls in love with a beautiful Lunar native (“Futurama’s” Lauren Tom). This fanciful film features some truly wonderful extended cameo appearances by Dan Aykroyd as Galligan’s Holland Tunnel supervisor and Bill Murray as the diabolical bus driver.

Nothing Lasts Forever often feels like more than just an homage to classic movie making, but rather an attempt to recreate it. It was shot in glorious Black & White. And it switches to surreal-looking color during the sequences on the Moon and at the Center of the Earth, which eerily replicates early ‘30s Two-Strip Technicolor. But ultimately it’s the genuine earnestness of the picture that sets it aside from more well-known and well-regarded genre pastiches. There’s a sweet simplicity (but not simple-mindedness) to this film’s handlings of heady subjects like the nature of art, love, and destiny, that makes the homages of Bogdanovich and Tarantino look like cold academic exercises in comparison.

An obscure ‘80s gem, Nothing Lasts Forever was shot in 1982, released to virtually zero fanfare in 1984, and never ever released on Betamax, VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray. In fact it may never ever be released on any home format. The film includes numerous clips from other films in order to give it the feel of the 1930s. Securing copyright clearance for these clips has proved nearly impossible. The version I saw was a digital copy of an Nth Generation VHS bootleg recorded off a UK TV broadcast. It’s a cinematic crime that this movie isn’t more well-known and regarded, or even available for that matter.

Written and directed by Tom Schiller, best known for writing and directing short films for “Saturday Night Live” during the show’s early years. Nothing Lasts Forever is a comedy that puts heart and sincerity above snark and cynicism.


EDIT: Neato Torpedo!! Just as I was finishing this write-up, I found the WHOLE movie on YouTube! Check it this rare cinematic treasure, before it gets removed by corporate jerks:

And don’t forget to Tweet to @warnerarchive to let them know you want Nothing Lasts Forever to finally receive a proper DVD/Blu release!

Have you seen Nothing Lasts Forever? What did you think? What other great movies have yet to receive a proper home video release?

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