wed 27/10/2021

DVD: The Final Programme | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Final Programme

DVD: The Final Programme

Entertaining and stylish Michael Moorcock film adaptation

Amsterdam is in ashes. The Vatican City has been wiped off the map. Abandoned cars litter Trafalgar Square. The National Gallery has become the base camp for an arms-dealing Major. It’s a bad time alright, yet a group of people aren’t fussed about that. Instead, they are exercised by the death of the father of Jerry Cornelius. Dad had a formula, a computer programme they’re seeking. It’s the final programme. A programme which will create a super-human.

This adaptation of the Michael Moorcock science fiction-adventure book of the same name was released in 1973. It was retitled The Last Days of Man on Earth in America. The director was Robert Fuest, who had been behind episodes of The Avengers. Fittingly, The Final Programme is more Sixties than Seventies in style, and close to Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik. Failing to be an apocalyptic thriller, it’s more a cartoon than bold warning about the fate of human-kind. Striving for hipness, it’s a vision-free, action-film cousin of A Clockwork Orange.

As Jerry Cornelius in his Ossie Clarke and Tommy Nutter clobber, Jon Finch is pitched as a hybrid of Jim Morrison and Jason King but ends up coming over as an odd play on Richard Burton. His antagonist Miss Brunner (Jenny Runacre) fascinates him. He can’t shake her off and they embark on adventures abroad. The budget did not extend to depicting how they got to these exotic locations. She has a trio of scientists in tow, who include old-stagers Graham Crowden and Patrick Magee.

This cannot have found much of an audience. Too arch for James Bond fans, it wouldn’t have been weird enough for Moorcock’s readers. It is terrifically stylish though. Although the DVD includes the trailer and an alternate Italian title sequence, footage of Finch’s Cornelius with Moorcock’s buddies Hawkwind remains missing in action. Even so, The Final Programme is a hugely entertaining Seventies’ curio.   

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Overleaf: watch the trailer for The Final Programme

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters