Movies

Watch the Great Lost Movie 'Nothing Lasts Forever'

A film preserved by piracy

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Larry

In 1984, MGM had a test screening in Seattle for a film called Nothing Lasts Forever. The story was about a young man who wants to be an artist, but the movie wasn't like any other picture you've seen on that subject: It's a dreamlike tale set in a world where the Port Authority has seized dictatorial powers in Manhattan, a benevolent conspiracy of tramps guides people's destinies from a hidden base beneath New York, and the U.S. government first went to the moon in 1953, where it set up a secret shopping district for elderly American tourists. The film was written and directed by Tom Schiller, the guy who made those "Schiller's Reel" shorts for the original incarnation of Saturday Night Live, and it harkens back to so many different film styles that it seems to take place in the entire 20th century at once. That effect is intensified by the cast, which is filled with half-forgotten former celebrities—Eddie Fisher, Imogene Coca, Mort Sahl—as well as a couple of Schiller's old SNL pals, including Bill Murray as an interplanetary bus conductor.

In short, it's a goddamn great movie, and even if it weren't a great movie it's the sort of picture that would be worth watching just for being so weird. But that test screening didn't go well, and MGM shelved the film. It turns up at festivals and special events every once in a while, and it reportedly airs from time to time on European TV, but it has never had a proper theatrical release and has never been put out on DVD. I have wanted to see this thing for at least two decades.

Thank goodness for YouTube:

Yes, that's the whole thing. Watch it while it's available.

People who talk about online movie "piracy" usually have torrents in mind, but YouTube and Vimeo are filled with old movies and TV shows that never got a legal DVD release. Some of them are easy to find, and some are half-disguised to keep the copyright cops away—the uploader might use a $ in place of a S or a \/ instead of a V, or she might just indicate the picture's presence with its initials instead of its full title. A lot of them seem to have been recorded off television at some point. It's a vast but poorly catalogued library of films that aren't widely available anywhere else: the sort of stuff that cineastes used to swap on VHS tapes, now available to far more people on a far more convenient platform.

As we all know, piracy can cut into sales. But it can also lay the groundwork for sales, creating or expanding a market by letting people know what they could be buying if it were available (a point Henry Jenkins made in this 2006 Reason article about Japanese anime). Schiller has said that he likes the fact that pirated editions of Nothing Lasts Forever are floating around out there, and that he "would also enjoy it if it was available to a lot of people." Well, one day the first might lead to the second. I'd love to own a copy of this movie, but until that's possible YouTube will have to do.

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  1. As we all know, piracy can cut into sales. But it can also lay the groundwork for sales.

    Ultimately, it’s for the property-owner to decide how his property will be used, or not used. Without that freedom of use and disposal, the concept of property is a farce.

    1. That’s right, start the idiots up again.

      Uncontrollable property is not property. Land can be fenced in or patrolled. Houses and cars can be locked.

      The only way to protect thoughts is to keep them to yourself. Therefore they are not property once released to the wild.

      1. FREE SHIT!

      2. Someone’s never heard of trade secrets.

        Coca Cola has done a bang up job of “protecting” their formula.

    2. I have a great idea that can save the world…but I don’t want to lose control of it, so I’m keeping it to myself.

      1. You guys appear to have the same vision of inventions as leftists have of wealth; something that just falls in someone’s lap with no effort. Which would help explain why you favor stealing just as they do.

        If that great idea to help the world takes 10 years of research and a million dollars to develop, it ain’t going to happen without an incentive.

    3. Start working at home with GOOGLE!YAHOO. ABCNEWS AND MORE GLOBAL SITES… It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, …. http://www.Max47.com

  2. The number of movies that people actually want to see or often buy but can’t because of copyright issues is quite high. In the late 90’s early 2000’s I had a friend who was closely associated with companies like Anchor Bay or Synapse or Image (he had tons of extra material for a vast array of horror movies), who at the time were actively trying to get their hands on lots of obscure and mostly forgotten horror movies. They would remaster them and release them on DVD. It was a labor of love from people who wanted to be able to watch again the movies they had seen in cheap theaters and drive-ins in their youth.

    They finally (with my friend’s help) brought things like Thriller – A Cruel Picture and Nathan Schiff’s films to DVD. And it was good. And it was Anchor Bay who finally got Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso to DVD.

    There’s a lot of stuff out there that people are willing to pay for, but idiotic copyright rules make it extremely difficult to get it to them. The only reason the stuff I mentioned above made it was because of the dedication of some hardcore fans. What about the stuff that nobody knows about?

    1. Now that Anchor Bay owns the rights, any comments on whether they try to enforce their property rights?

      1. What rights? Intellectual “property” is a monopoly on violence, an artificial construct devised by dead white guys hundreds of years ago in order to keep the Common Man from watching reruns of WKRP in Cincinnati.

    2. I’m pretty sure the studio would be happy to negotiate a price for access to n asset they’re making zero money on right now. This isn’t the Church of Scientology we’re talking about.

      There’s a lot of stuff out there that people are willing to pay for, but idiotic copyright rules make it extremely difficult to get it to them.

      But it’s hard sometimes to separate the thieves who just want something for free vs. the people who are willing to pay a reasonable price for someone else’s work. Did the people who posted this stuff on YouTube attempt to contact the copyright owners first? That would be the right way to do it.

  3. If you really wanted to talk about piracy how about the fact that the early days of the American film industry featured heavy piracy, especially of French films (A Trip to the Moon anyone?). And that Hollywood was founded by people who wanted to fight the Patents Trust.

  4. Very cool. When I have some time I’ll give it a watch just because Bill Murray’s in it, and Murray is The Most Interesting Man in the World.

    A movie that was released widely but then shelved soon after and is still difficult to find is Love with the Proper Stanger. It stars Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen and has what some interpret as an anti-abortion perspective. I caught it on tv some years ago but haven’t been able to get it via Netflix or Amazon since.

    “A Catholic salesgirl discovers she’s pregnant after a one-night stand with a womanizing musician. As the two strangers spend the day trying to find a doctor to perform an abortion, they learn more about each other and what they want in the future.”

    I suspect a conspiracy prevents this from being available. Perhaps someone could write a book about conspiracies and investigate.

    1. Coming soon to theaters:

      The Pregnant Nun!

      A nun who gave birth to a baby boy in the central Italian city of Rieti, said she had no idea she was pregnant, local media report.

      The 31-year-old was rushed to hospital with abdominal pains, which she thought were stomach cramps.

      The young mother, who is originally from El Salvador, reportedly named her newborn Francis after the current Pope.

      The mayor of Rieti, Simone Petrangeli has appealed to the public and media to respect the woman’s privacy.

      The news has drawn international attention to the small city of 47,700 inhabitants.

      The nun called the ambulance on Wednesday morning. A few hours later she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

      “I did not know I was pregnant. I only felt a stomach pain,” she was quoted as saying by the Ansa news agency.

      People at the hospital have begun collecting clothes and donations for the mother and her child, Italian media say.

      The woman belongs to a convent near Rieti, which manages an old people’s home.

      Fellow nuns at the convent said they were “surprised” by the news.

      Local pastor Don Fabrizio Borrello told journalists that the nun planned to take care of the baby.

      “I guess she’s telling the truth when she says she arrived at the hospital unaware of the pregnancy.”

      1. Sounds like material for a zany romantic comedy!!

        Did she or didn’t she???

        Immaculate conception or the adorable grounds keeper named Jesus (using the Spanish pronunciation)????

        1. Or a sex comedy: “Catholic Pie”

      2. I’m no Catechism expert like Eddy, but aren’t nuns supposed to be celibate?

        Will “the church” be excommunicating her?

        1. No-one is supposed to have sex except with a spouse – their own spouse, Mr. Clinton.

          Some people disregard this prescription. That’s what confession is for.

        2. Yes, absolute they are supposed to be celibate. That being said, and IANAC, I don’t think they would excommunicate her over that since she isn’t espousing heretical or blasphemous views.

          Instead she might be expelled from her order of nuns or forced to perform some penance to stay in.

          1. I’m not the head of a convent or an order of nuns, so I can’t speak for the type of discipline.

            Excommunication is for unrepentant sinners – “Yeah, I did it, and I’m proud of it, and maybe I’ll do it again!”

            I doubt that would be her attitude.

            1. “Getting excommunicated is much harder than you think”

              http://www.catholicherald.co.u…..you-think/

          2. Ahh. The peculiarities of mysticism are fascinating.

            1. It’s a story about a nun. So I guess there’s going to be some discussion of this topic.

              Outside the Church, people still do bad things, feel guilt, and look for ways to make up for it. They’ve even found people to hear confessions, people like bartenders, mental-health professionals, and the like.

    2. A movie that was released widely but then shelved soon after and is still difficult to find is Love with the Proper Stanger. It stars Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen and has what some interpret as an anti-abortion perspective. I caught it on tv some years ago but haven’t been able to get it via Netflix or Amazon since.

      Amazon has a stream of it available now.

      1. I didn’t check for streaming only dvd which wasn’t available. thx.

    3. It’s shown up on TCM before, since I’m 99% certain I’ve seen it there.

      Another movie that was long a rarity is Skidoo, which is on TCM overnight tonight at 2:00 AM, but it finally got a DVD release in 2011. It’s hilariously bad, and well worth watching.

  5. Awesome! I had torrented this a few years ago, and it struck me as Brazil -like, in a good way. Surreal, anti-bureaucratic, conspiracy-chocked fun. And gets in a few good mocking shots at artist pretension.

    That effect is intensified by the cast, which is filled with half-forgotten former celebrities — Eddie Fisher, Imogene Coca, Mort Sahl

    And Larry “Bud” Melman!

    1. I saved him for the alt-text.

      1. Oh wow, I thought that was actually Bill Murray! But it was Larry “Bud” eh?

        Looking at it again, I can see how it could be either one.

        1. Murray is in the picture; Melman is in the alt-text.

          1. Now that is some wicked alt-text-Fu right there.

    2. Melman was Dr. McCoy’s cousin. Learn something new every day.

    3. Speaking of movies that are unavailable on disk, Brazil is at the top of my list.

      Haven’t looked for it streaming.

      1. Brazil is available on DVD. You can even rent it from Netflix.

        1. Just make sure you get the director’s cut, and not the version with the stupid ending the studio wanted.

  6. That reminds me, I still have to watch Heaven’s Gate when I find the time.

    1. You’d be better off just watching The Deer Hunter again, if you can handle it without slitting your wrists.

    2. I haven’t seen Heaven’s Gate, but supposedly the film is very highly regarded in France and other parts of Europe.

      1. The French think Roman Polanski is a persecuted artist.

        1. All of them?

          1. OK, a lot of them. Sorry for the Gallophobia.

    3. It is about time that website development team got a documentary. Hopefully they have some good footage of comet Hale-Bop.

    4. One of the United Artists heads wrote a book on the disaster of making that movie. Better, hell, much better, than the movie.

  7. Speaking of unreleased movies, I am shocked to see “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story” up on YouTube, and seems to have survived a year and a half. Surprised Richard hasn’t put the kaibosh on that. This was also only available via piracy for a long time.

  8. Speaking of hard-to-find great things showing up on youtube:

    Charlie Pickett and the Eggs: Live At The Button

  9. U.S. government first went to the moon in 1953, where it set up a secret shopping district for elderly American tourists. The film was written and directed by Tom Schiller

    So that’s Alex Jones’ pen name!

    1. Wow, a right-wing satire on the Catholic Church! And it’s just as funny as the left-wing kind!

  10. Yes, that’s the whole thing. Watch it while it’s available.

    Ad-ons are your friends, Jesse.

    http://goo.gl/qVhM8

  11. Heaven’s Gate is not as horrible as many people claim.

    Of course, I wasn’t the sucker who bankrolled it.

  12. The linked article (about anime fansubs) is very interesting.

  13. I’m 21 minutes in and I love it. There’s a lot to notice. Very smart.

  14. I once saw a VHS copy of Chimes at Midnight, Orson Welles take on Falstaff (it contains bits of Henry IV Pt 1, Pt 2, and The Merry Wives of Windsor) and did not buy it. I still kick myself over that failure

  15. Jack Man Forozze is not gonna like that.

    http://www.AnonPlanet.tk

  16. My favorite lost film of the 80’s would be “Liquid Sky.”

    There’s also an IndieGoGo campaign to get a new documentary made.

  17. *Cough*

    Films I have 1) never been able to find, or 2) saw once and would love to see again:

    Just Imagine (1930): Bizarre vaudeville science fiction musical set in 1980.

    The House of Rothschild (1934): Fascinating in several ways. Explicitly philosemitic in its day, some of the clich?s might make people uncomfortable today. But all libertarians will love the early scene in which the family hides its valuables before the tax collector arrives.

    And I’ve never seen the notorious flop The Adventures of Pluto Nash show up on cable. You’d think that the producers would be trying to wring every penny out of that one.

    1. Just Imagine is online here. House of Rothschild is here. I think they may both be in the public domain?I’m sure the Rothschild film is.

      1. Thanks, Jesse!

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