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Tomorrow – 1972
Joseph Anthony

William Faulkner  – story
Horton Foote  – play

Robert Duvall
Olga Bellin
Sudie Bond


Not good. Duvall is especially bad,

Based on a William Faulkner story to be found in the collection Knight’s Gambit, possibly his best work written after WWII, Tomorrow is the story of a dull Southern man who falls in love with a pregnant woman whose husband has run away and then raises the child. The script, written by Horton Foote (who won an Oscar for his screenplay for To Kill a Mockingbird) is decent, but it straightens out Faulkner’s labyrinthine plot (told only in about 14 pages) in such a way that it erases a lot of the emotional complexity. It’s so straightforward that it becomes sort of dull after a while.

The framing story seems like it is retained in the film because it wouldn’t make much sense without it, but it isn’t retained very well at all. The film also does not have much of a Faulknerian mood, either. Faulkner’s world is a sad place, but it’s not cold. The sparse black and white photography in the film is wrong for the mood. It seems very inspired by Carl Th. Dreyer – I’m almost positive of it. Several shots especially reminded me of Day of Wrath and Ordet. However, it all may have worked if not for the performances. Usually when you hear of Tomorrow, you hear how amazing Robert Duvall is in the lead. But for my money, this is easily his worst performance. One of them, anyhow. He displays his emotions well enough through his movements and facial expressions, but, for some unknown reason, he comes up with this way of speaking that is simply grating.

It’s cartoonish. And you’ve heard this voice if you’ve ever seen Billy Bob Thornton’s 1996 film Sling Blade – Thornton stole the voice straight from Duvall. It was kind of annoying in Sling Blade, but at least that character was mentally handicapped. Duvall’s isn’t, but you might think he is. It’s an execrable performance. It’s also a very stage-bound performance (the adaptation is tertiary, and was a play before it was a film). Olga Bellin, who plays the pregnant woman, is not nearly as bad, but her performance also seems false. She talks endlessly (the character never really appears in the short story), and is very annoying with her affected accent. In fact, even counting the supporting players, I’ve never seen a film with such affected performances as Tomorrow. The only natural performance in the film is from the young boy, Johnny Mask.

Tomorrow is worth a look, especially for Faulkner aficionados, but it is a failure. 6/10.

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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