The Final Programme (UK, 1973)

I had been looking for this movie since the Liz Eggleston post about it many years ago, and now I finally found it. It was very worth it, and her post about it is entirely right.

I would describe The Final Programme as a more skiffy Dr Phibes by someone who listened to Oh! You Pretty Things too many times. I don’t think it’s a good movie in the regular sense – normal reviewers seem to find it both baffling and dull, which it is-, but I also think it’s a good movie.

I think the thing about this movie is that it is going to be very interesting and meaningful if you are very into glam rock as a broader cultural movement, and if you’re not it’s just going to be really, really weird.

Honestly, it’s the story that lets this down. I haven’t read the book this was based on and apparently it was quite different, but it doesn’t actually sound any more coherent, and maybe even less coherent. I also don’t understand if it thinks the actual final programme plan is evil or not (I think not?).

“Are you riding me?” “Not tonight, baby.”

In the not too distant dystopian future, Jerry Cornelius (Jon Finch) is a man who flirts with his male arms dealer/assassin for hire and brushes his teeth inexplicably standing with one foot in his bathtub fully clothed. He meets an omnisexual cannibal computer witch, Ms. Brunner (Jenny Runacre). She is making a man with blond hair and a tan a superperson into whom she is planning to funnel all knowledge in the world based on plans by Cornelius’s father. Cornelius goes along with this in order to get revenge on his druggy brother who killed his father and also his sister (indirectly).

The first half of this is amazing but the second half drags (pun intended) because they swop a bunch of fantastic sets for a bunch of more normal post-apocalyptic derelict ones which aren’t as good. There’s still the ending which is just INSANE, though.

Jenny Runacre is great and John Finch is also good. They both have a good line in campy nihilism. The clothes are, of course, fantastic (Ossie Clark AND Tommy Nutter?!).

The look of this movie defies description, and that’s its value in my opinion. It is extremely daring and special. A lot of beautiful shots and absolutely outstanding set design, though the second half is definitely inferior.

You will know if you’re the kind of person who’d enjoy this. I truly think the way it looks is worth seeing and therefore would recommend it, but it will be tough going even for cult enthusiasts.

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