In addition to being a superb writer (one of the finest of the past fifty years, by my reckoning), B.S. Johnson was also a gifted filmmaker, writing, directing, and acting in both films and programs for television.
Johnson’s final film was Fat Man on a Beach (1973); he wrote it and starred in it. (It was directed by Johnson’s agent/producer and close friend Michael Bakewell, who among other things produced Eh Joe, Samuel Beckett’s first work for television). Fat Man is, just like Johnson’s novels, a wonder of aggressively biting metatextuality, cheeky absurdism, and relentless formal experimentation (which is really, as that man always reminds us, play). It’s also a reminiscence on his time in Wales, and, sadly, some of the last footage we have of the man (he took his life that same year, at the age of 40).
You can watch the film in its entirety at YouTube; to encourage you further, I’ve cut holes in this blog through which you can view it. “Cut to the bananas!”
And then there is the notorious sequence at the very end of the film, where he says goodbye to Wales, goodbye to his audience, and walks, fully clothed, out to sea, as the camera spirals into the sky until he is just a tiny dot in the ocean, lost to view.
—Jonathan Coe, Like a Fiery Elephant (p. 374)