Required Viewing: Tom Schiller’s NOTHING LASTS FOREVER

Nothing-Lasts-Forever-ZachTom Schiller is undeservingly the least remembered creative asset of the original Saturday Night Live. While the on screen cast and off screen writers would be known for their numerous comic creations on the groundbreaking late night series and in other projects afterwards in television film, and in one case the halls of the United States Senate, Schiller’s career never broke out in the same way. And that is a shame given that the short films he contributed to the show’s early years – such as the Federico Fellini parody La Dolce Gilda which the Italian neo-realist director reportedly loved – were some of the smartest and most insightful things presented on the show ever.

It’s not that Schiller didn’t get a shot at bigger things beyond the show. That chance came in the early 1980s, courtesy of Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels. Michaels had just signed a five picture deal with MGM as a way to help finance his new Broadway Video production company and asked Schiller to fill one of those slots. The result was Nothing Lasts Forever, the story of a young man who decides he has had enough of the near future society in which he lives and opts to head to a moon colony to start a new life.

TCM will be screening Nothing Lasts Forever on their TCM Underground showcase, Saturday night/early Sunday morning January 3 at 2am (eastern), 11pm (pacific).

Nothing-Lasts-Forever-MurrayProduction commenced on the film in April of 1984, with a pre-Gremlins Zach Galligan (beating out Matthew Broderick, John Cusack, and Matthew Modine) in the lead role of the disaffected Adam Beckett opposite Lauren Tom, still a few years away from her starring turn in The Joy Luck Club. In addition to SNL chums Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd making cameos, Schiller padded out the cast with an eclectic bunch of actors including comic Mort Sahl, Imogene Coca (who went on to do National Lampoon’s Vacation when she wrapped her work here), Sam Jaffee, movie tough guy Lawrence Tierney still a few years away from career rejuvenation in Reservoir Dogs and Calvert DeForest, perhaps better known to late night television viewers as Larry “Bud” Melman of David Letterman’s chat shows.

Schiller has described the movie as a mélange of all the late night movies he would watch on TV as a kid – Hollywood studio films of the 1940s and `50s, science-fictional trips to the moon and Italian neo-realism all in one potent blend. There were reportedly no real issues on set during the film’s production, but things took a turn for the worse soon afterwards, when a disastrous preview screening in Seattle of a rough cut of the film prompted the studio to just shelve the film rather than try and complete it. A video release to Europe was done on the quick and cheap, so cheap that they never even fixed a number of glaring editing issues, including the repetition of one scene.

Nothing-Lasts-Forever-moonAmerican film buffs interested in seeing the film got their first real chance in 1992, when it was screened as part of the Museum of the Moving Image’s “SchillerVision” event, in which they screened a number of the director’s short films as well as Nothing Lasts Forever. It would be another 12 years before it was exhibited again, when Bill Murray insisted that it be shown as part of a 2004 retrospective of the comic actor’s films at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Subsequently, the film’s reputation has only grown through occasional screenings at film festivals and one-off events.

Unfortunately, it appears that there are some rights issues that are holding up any kind of home video release, so for now, outside of the odd festival screening, this appears to be the only time to catch this film. Set your DVR.

Nothing-Lasts-Forever-poster

Avatar
About Rich Drees 6258 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty years experience writing about film and pop culture.
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Joey
Guest

This article bears a striking similarity to an article published on another site only two days earlier, right down to the same screen shots and poster…

John Morgan
Guest
John Morgan

This article was much more interesting when it appeared (in far superior form) here: http://moviemorlocks.com/2014/12/31/this-week-on-tcm-underground-nothing-lasts-forever-1984/

William Gatevackes
Admin

You know, reading the two above comments, I, for a second, believed that Rich might have engaged in a little bit of plagiarism here. Of course, then I read the other article an noticed that that wasn’t the case. I mean, unless TCM’s Movie Morlocks has the legal exclusive to recommend films appearing on that network, there is nothing wrong to see here. Rich provides information that was not in the Richard Harland Smith article, and Smith has information that Rich does not provide. They are in reality two very different articles. But wait, you say, what about the screen… Read more »

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

Full disclosure: William Gatevackes (who wrote the above comment) works for Film Buff Online.

faceyouhate
Guest

.@FilmBuffOnLine your article is suspiciously similar to Richard Harland Smith’s write-up here, don’t you think? http://t.co/tWwUBrDAb7

Alan
Guest

Because your pal/boss who lifted phrases and photos from Richard Harland Smith’s review without attribution is another movie fan recommending the same film, that’s ok and doesn’t make it plagiarism? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over that type of perverse logic that can only come from an Internet blogger who either doesn’t write for a living or somehow thinks that this type of behavior is ethically justified. BTW: Your pal/boss misspelled Schiller’s name twice in his article, so I guess that’s original.

Alan
Guest

Because your pal/boss who lifted phrases and photos from Richard Harland Smith’s review without attribution is another movie fan recommending the same film, that’s ok and doesn’t make it plagiarism? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over that type of perverse logic that can only come from an Internet blogger who either doesn’t write for a living or somehow thinks that this type of behavior is ethically justified. BTW: Your pal/boss misspelled Schiller’s name twice in his article, including on the title, so I guess that’s original.

Ariel
Guest

There is no defending the fact that this article is not “original material.” The bottom of your website (as I am reading it) says “all original material.” You will need to do something very different and get absolutely different content in order to make this so. As someone who works with rare film content for a living and has done so for most of my adult life, I know the difficulty of finding *any* information on a certain subject, film or television episode. Some no longer exist to be studied. BUT THERE IS NEVER EVER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE UNDER WHICH IT… Read more »

Jack Criddle
Guest
Jack Criddle

Required Reading: this article by Richard Harland Smith, which Mr. Drees has plagirized. Not cool, buddy! http://moviemorlocks.com/2014/12/31/this-week-on-tcm-underground-nothing-lasts-forever-1984/

ArchivistAriel
Guest

.@FilmBuffOnLine Plagiarism is not cool. Do your own research. @RHarlandSmith did his. Don’t bite his work. http://t.co/IFUoqsns2o