Bill Murray’s Never-Released 1984 Sci-Fi Comedy Is Now Online

Slate's Culture Blog
July 9 2014 3:28 PM

Bill Murray’s Unreleased 1984 Sci-Fi Comedy Is Now Online

bill_murray_lost_movie
Bill Murray plays the conductor of a bus to the moon.

A still from Nothing Lasts Forever.

Hardcore Bill Murray fans may have read about his 1984 film Nothing Lasts Forever, an off-kilter sci-fi film directed by Saturday Night Live writing alum Tom Schiller (“La Dolce Gilda”). It was never released, but Dangerous Minds points out that it’s somehow made its way online and is available to watch in full (at least for now) on YouTube.

Nothing Lasts Forever stars Zach Galligan (Gremlins) as Adam, an aspiring artist who moves to New York only to find that the Port Authority has seemingly taken over and turned the city into a totalitarian state. Adam is forced to work as a night watchman at the entrance of the Holland Tunnel (Dan Aykroyd cameos as his boss) until he can prove his worth as an artist, but soon he finds himself on a bus to the moon (Murray plays the conductor) to find his true love.

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It’s a weird premise, and the movie has the style to match. While it’s mostly black-and-white, it occasionally jumps into color, and even includes a couple of musical numbers. More intriguingly, clips from a variety of older movies are integrated into scenes, as if it were a sort of early YouTube mashup.

This particular aspect of the film might be one of the reasons MGM has kept Nothing Lasts Forever under wraps for so long. Copyright issues have long stalled or flat-out prohibited some releases from obtaining wider distribution—hip-hop group De La Soul’s early discography being another apparent example. IFC has suggested that the shaky financial state of MGM in the wake of the failure of Heaven’s Gate a few years prior is another possible motive. Schiller—who touched on the making of the film in the 2005 book Nothing Lost Forever: The Films of Tom Schiller—has stated that he never received a straight-forward answer as to why the studio shelved it, though he suspects it may be because the film didn’t appear “commercial” enough.

The film had one test screening before MGM pulled the plug, but it has since lived on through airings on European cable channels and the occasional public screening, sometimes at the insistence of Murray. It remains Schiller’s only feature, though he has gone on to direct hundreds of commercials. No plans have been announced for a home video release, but you can try to catch it on YouTube while you still can.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

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