The Final Programme

Year: 1973

Production: Goodtimes Enterprises / Gladiole Films / MGM-EMI

Director: Robert Fuest

Starring: Jon Finch, Jenny Runacre, Sterling Hayden, Patrick Magee, Hugh Griffith, Harry Andrews, Derrick O'Connor

Screenwriter: Robert Fuest

Based on The Final Programme (1968) by Michael Moorcock

78 minutes; Color

In this first film to feature Moorcock's polymorph protagonist, Jerry Cornelius, style triumphs over content. Originally a set-designer, Fuest is best known for The Abominable Dr Phibes (1971), an extravagantly theatrical horror-film spoof, and for the many episodes that he directed of The Avengers, The Final Programme looks impressive, but not much of Moorcock's creation remains. Cornelius' father has died, leaving a hidden microfilm on which is the final (computer) programme of the title. Those involved in the hunt for the film include Jerry (Finch), his evil brother (O'Connor), and the awesome Miss Brunner (Runacre), who has a tendency to consume her lovers, bones and all. The Moorcock original was not as strong as the other 3 books of his Jerry Cornelius tetralogy, but none the less was sophisticated in its ironies, which Fuest here reduces (literally in one case) to a series of knowing winks. When Moorcock defines his characters in terms of their personal style, this is often a form of criticism; for Fuest, by contrast, strong style is apparently to be admired. The apotheosis of the book is rendered farcical in the film, which substitutes a grinning Neanderthal for Moorcock's original hermaphroditic messiah.

A variant title for this movie is The Last Days of Man on Earth.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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