Nothing Lasts Forever

Saturday Night Live, for all of the hours of comedy it has given Americans since the 1970’s, has very little to show for itself beyond overdone sketches with one-note jokes belabored to death by rotating casts of “up and coming” comics who may or may not go on to have big careers. But one thing SNL has managed to do really well over the years are the short films and commercial parodies peppering the sketches- everything from Eddie Murphy secretly posing as a White Man to more recent gems like Boomers Got the Vax.

Which brings us to Tom Schiller, O.G. SNL cast member and maker of such classic shorts as La Dolce Gilda and Java Junkie, a 1950’s style parody which directly feeds into his only feature film, the truly lost classic comedy Nothing Lasts Forever. A Capra-esque fantasy shot mostly in Black-and-White, this film was shelved by MGM for unknown reasons and has been screened only a handful of times around the world. It had a TNT broadcast once, and bootlegs have been made and circulated over the years, but copies are scarce. Due to the amount of copywritten stock footage used to re-create a mid-century Manhattan feel in this trippy period piece, Nothing Lasts Forever may never see the light of day in an official capacity, which is a shame- it’s an absolutely brilliant and bizarre piece of filmmaking.

Featuring so many cultural icons from over the years: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Mort Sahl, Sam Jaffe, Apollonia, Eddie Fisher and Paul Rogers, Nothing Lasts Forever also stars some relative unknowns: Zach Galligan (from Gremlins fame!) and Lauren Tom (who later starred in the Joy Luck Club.) But familiar faces pop up in cameos everywhere (e.g. Lawrence Tierney) and voices, too: Paul Frees, better known as Boris Badenoff from Bullwinkle, plays the Orwellian voice of Gotham’s Big-Brotherish city agency, dictating rules to New Yorkers throughout the movie.

Beyond the name dropping, though, lies a great, sweet, and totally trippy world: one where the Port Authority has taken control of New York, where street bums run an Illuminati-like operation, and cosmic shopping trips with buses full of octogenarians are not unknown. The film is a total farce, but it sincerely captures the innocence and spirit of old time Hollywood in a way most other films of this kind fail to do. The Coen Brothers’ Hudsucker Proxy manages a similar vibe, but that film is too slick and modern to feel like anything but a clear homage from the future to the past. Nothing Lasts Forever, however, deftly blends in stock footage of the actual time period to truly feel like it was made way back when; if it weren’t for the obvious tell-tale markers (Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, for one thing) you might not be so sure when it was made. Some parts, like the spoofs on the pretentious world of contemporary art, feel very 80’s, but so much of the film feels truly of Hollywood’s golden age, making this fanciful comedy a post-modern delight.


3 thoughts on “Nothing Lasts Forever

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s