Film (1973; vt The Last Days of Man on Earth). Goodtimes Enterprises/Gladiole Films/MGM-EMI. Directed by Robert Fuest. Written by Fuest, based on The Final Programme (August and December 1965, March 1966 New Worlds; 1968) by Michael Moorcock. Cast includes Harry Andrews, Julie Ege, Jon Finch, Hugh Griffith, Sterling Hayden, Patrick Magee, Derrick O'Connor and Jenny Runacre. 89 minutes. Colour.
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's 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 three 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. [PN/JB]
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