Release Date(s)1972 (May 13, 2014)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: C+
- Audio Grade: C+
- Extras Grade: D+
Shot in Mississippi by director Joseph Anthony, who also directed the wonderful Burt Lancaster film The Rainmaker, Tomorrow didn’t get much critique or was seen by many people until nearly ten years after its release. The film winds up being more of an art house film than it lets on if you’re aware of the storyline, which is about the caretaker of an old sawmill (Robert Duvall) who decides to shelter a drifting pregnant woman, falling in love with her in the process.
Tomorrow was based on a play adapted from a short story by William Faulkner, and it shows in the look of the film. It’s pretty sparse as far as production expense, and there’s a very minimalist quality to it. How you take in the film will all depend on your own personal tastes. For me, I found the characters to be pretty much there, but it felt like I was seeing them through the eyes of a stage director. They never really reach any emotional depths, or any highs, for that matter. It appears very amateurish and low key for most of its running time, which will probably bore many who watch it expecting some emotional explosions from the characters at certain points. The most action in the film takes place in the latter half, which I won’t spoil.
All of that being said, I think Robert Duvall does give a significant performance. The other characters in the film do a good job, but it’s Duvall who we’re invested in here, and he doesn’t let you down. The story is also quite easy to follow, although it does contain some needless bookend material that’s feels counterintuitive to the story that’s been told in between. Still, there’s an interesting story to be found here. I wouldn’t call Tomorrow totally successful as a film, but as a story, it should draw you in well enough if you can pay attention.
Shot in black and white on a low budget, Tomorrow doesn’t have the best-looking photography you’re likely to find, but it’s not unpleasant either. Unfortunately, I think that the materials culled for this release were of a lower than normal quality, which means that this isn’t one of the sharpest and most detail-oriented releases out there. But, the case may be that the original materials might not exist or might be lost, and this might be all that’s left. I don’t want to give the wrong impression here. This isn’t a bad-looking transfer, but it does suffer from a lack of fine detail. There’s a healthy grain structure present, and the print used looks clean. Blacks are pretty deep, although shadow detail isn’t always perfect. And both brightness and contrast are acceptable. I saw no signs of digital enhancement either. The soundtrack, which is an English 2.0 LPCM track derived from the film’s original mono soundtrack, is pleasant enough. Again, this is a very minimalist film, and the soundtrack reflects that. Dialogue is always clear and discernible, although the volume of it does waver sometimes. Atmospherics and what little score is present are good without being perfect. It’s also a soundtrack that definitely sounds its age. There’s no dynamic range or low frequency activity worth mentioning either. So it’s a good transfer that looks as good as it can under the circumstances.
The only extra other than a DVD copy of the film is the original theatrical trailer, which seems to be a VHS trailer of some kind from the early 80’s when the film was rediscovered. I’m glad it was because it’s definitely worth a watch. It’s not perfect, but it has a very good performance from Robert Duvall that’s well-worth checking out.
- Tim Salmons