Adam Beckett (Zach Galligan), pianist, is a fake – he uses a player piano to perform Chopin's Polonaise in his concert. An outraged audience storms the stage and wraps up his head in the perforated player piano paper roll.
Fleeing on a train in Europe, he confesses to a Swedish architect (Jan Triska) that he's failed as an artist, an author, and a concert pianist. The architect suggests a return to America to concentrate on his passion – art.
But, catastrophe strikes the nation. California is rocked by destructive earthquakes, New York bus drivers go on a crippling strike that forces the New York Port Authority to take over control of the city.
There are new rules for entering Manhattan, a huge consternation for Adam, who has no papers, identification or portfolio. He gets in conditionally and is welcomed by his Aunt Anita (singer Anita Ellis) and Uncle Mort (noted comedian Mort Sahl), the psychiatrist.
Adam has to report to the Art Testing Center, where he's shunted off to watch cars entering the Holland Tunnel, working under his boss, Buck Heller (Dan Aykroyd). One day, another Art Testing Center failure, Mara Hofmeier (Appollina van Ravenstein), joins him in the tunnel. They become art-learning buddies, then bed mates.
Hugo (Paul Rogers), whom he met outside Carnegie Hall, takes Adam to an inner sanctum of the masses led by Father Knickerbocker (Sam Jaffe). He's assigned to bring his enthusiasm to the moon. Next thing you know, he's listening to a bossy conductor (Bill Murray) give instructions on a bus to the moon with a dozen or so other (elderly) passengers on a shopping tour of the Copernicus Consumer Zone.
Adam experiences "lunartinis," entertainment by Eddie Fisher (the real thing), dinner with Daisy Shackman (Imogene Coca), a lunar hula dancer troupe welcome, and Eloy (Lauren Tom), his intended soul mate.
Dan Aykroyd's and Bill Murray's Saturday Night Live buddy, John Belushi, was scheduled to appear in Nothing Lasts Forever, but he died a month and a half before the start of shooting.
Nothing Lasts Forever was never released by MGM. It also was never released as a DVD to the home market, which is strange because of its estimated $3-million production budget. Just recently, I saw it on Turner Classic Movies; up to then, it had only been broadcast in Germany and the Netherlands. Nothing Lasts Forever has been screened at several U.S. film festivals.
Filmed in black and white, Nothing Lasts Forever plays like a coarse 1950s B-movie. With a great cast, it's a strange movie that's achieved cult status. I didn't care for it, despite a plethora of good viewer reviews on the Internet Movie Database (IMBd.com). About the only thing that impressed me were Hugo's (Paul Rogers) nuggets of life observations.
The film was posted by a fan on YouTube in 2011, only to be taken down at the insistence of Warner Brothers, which now owns the film, citing copyright infringement.
Quotations I like from the film:
"Life is a dream. The problem is most people are sleepwalkers and never awake." – Hugo (Paul Rogers)
"We shall show you that New York City is a dream created by higher beings as a temporary lodging place in the earthly sojourn." – Hugo (Paul Rogers)
"How the hell did I wind up singing on a bus to the moon?" – Eddie Fisher (himself)
"I can see the man in the moon; he's smiling at me." – Lunarcruiser (Calvert DeForest)