When MGM gave him a deal to produce feature films in the early 1980s, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels turned to Tom Schiller, who’d made a series of well-regarded shorts for the show. But despite cameos from Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, Nothing Lasts Forever is anything but an SNL sketch film. Instead, it’s a deadpan, cerebral comedy, filmed in the style of 1940s B movies, about a young man (Zach Galligan) who travels beneath New York City and to the moon — via bus — to find his true love.
Michaels’ most vivid memory is a phone call from Schiller, who had just seen the film with MGM chief Freddie Fields. ”Tom called me, excited, and said Fields had said to him, ‘It’s an art film.’ And I remember saying, ‘I’m not sure that’s a good thing.”’ Michaels turned out to be right: According to Schiller, the film was invited to screen at the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, but Fields not only refused to let Schiller take the movie to the festival, he never even released it to theaters. The problem, Schiller believes, was that ”I got to make a personal film accidentally with a major studio — and they didn’t know how to market it.”