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Home Vision Entertainment presents
Tomorrow (1972)

"I ain't never gonna leave you, unless you ask me to."
- Jackson Fentry (Robert Duvall)

Review By: Matt Peterson  
Published: May 04, 2004

Stars: Robert Duvall, Olga Bellin
Director: Joseph Anthony

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (brief violence)
Run Time: 01h:42m:12s
Release Date: May 04, 2004
UPC: 037429186824
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ AB-B B

DVD Review

Translating a story from stage to screen can be an arduous task. Clearly, film is an entirely different medium. The theater is more immediate. Its emotions, lines, and performances are never quite duplicated. They are fleeting, yet long lasting in the minds of the audience. Film, however, is a medium of longevity. Like literature, film endures and remains the same, allowing different viewers to experience a work and interpret for themselves. Other stories have made a more miraculous transformation: From page, to stage, to screen. Is anything lost in the process? Perhaps, but not in the case of Tomorrow.

Adapted from the short story by William Faulkner, Tomorrow begins with a trial. A haggard man sits in the jury box, strangely at peace. He is confident, though he is hiding a deep pain. This is Jackson Fentry, a simpleminded cotton farmer living in the deep south. During the Depression, he toils at a local sawmill, making his way, working to build a house on a nearby plot. Upon hearing a strange whimper, Fentry investigates. He finds a sickly pregnant woman (Olga Bellin, in her only film role) and immediately takes her in.

Fentry's calm, expressionless demeanor, denoted by a thick, guttural Southern accent, may suggest a lack of depth. On the contrary, his immediate love and care for the woman and her unborn child is clear, expressed not through bids for her reciprocation, but by simple kindness. The two do not touch—save for a brief moment—nor does he make advances toward her. It is a love that speaks from his soul; pure, with no strings attached. When she dies, leaving Fentry to tend to the child, his love continues. Fentry raises the young boy with the utmost commitment. However, his loss is not yet complete, nor is the trial that opens the film, which concludes with the ultimate example of Fentry's capacity for love.

Duvall is a revelation in this film, clear and plain. This is one of those landmark performances that does not get nearly enough print. Duvall's Fentry is an amazing mixture of pure love and deep emotion, expressed thorough a simple, unbreakable façade that does not shed a tear, even at the death of his beloved. He does not know how to cry, nor does he have any use to. However, he is not devoid of feeling. This is an uncanny combination that Duvall brings to life in stunning detail. Olga Bellin goes beyond the typical damsel in distress, creating a strong-willed woman who is simply worn down by life's hardships. These two characters drip of an unsung history, the effects of which clearly affect the nature of their characters.

Faulkner's original story contained only five lines of dialogue for his unnamed female character. Horton Foote's adaptation infuses life into her character, translating her from the original literary device to a living, breathing character, and a worthy counterpoint to Fentry. Joseph Anthony's direction is functional yet stage-like in many instances. The stark, 1.33:1 black-and-white images perfectly capture the spartan, minimal nature of the Depression-era south. However, I couldn't help but be distracted by some rather clumsy editing and camerawork. Still, thanks to Duvall, the truth remains captured within the celluloid. His unsentimental, powerful performance should endure through tomorrow, into the future.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The black-and-white 1.33:1 transfer is a mixed bag. Overall, the image has a soft appearance, and some shots are downright washed out. Detail varies widely, but occasionally, the film looks stunning. Blacks are good and light grain persists throughout, giving the image a film-like appearance. Considering Home Vision's great reputation when it comes to video quality, I have to give them the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure this is the best they could have done with the source materials at hand.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The monaural soundtrack is clear and bright, making even Duvall's thickly accented dialogue readily understandable. The sparse score comes through nicely. Aside from some minimal hiss, this is a fine track from the period.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Included is a handsome booklet containing liner notes by film critic Sheila Benson and William Faulkner’s complete short story, illustrated by Floyd Davis from The Saturday Evening Post.

The disc itself has a couple of extras. Besides the theatrical trailer (which features some extremely gaudy electronically produced video titles), we are treated to a lengthy conversation with Robert Duvall and Horton Foote, recorded in New York City in 2003 (17m:03s). The two have a clear admiration for one another, and after all these years. Foote also adapted To Kill a Mockingbird for the screen, in which Duvall appeared as the infamous Boo Radley. Interesting and sometimes humorous anecdotes about Tomorrow are shared. Other topics include translating from stage to screen, editing, a lost scene, and why Duvall refused to see the film until over a year after its completion.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Arguably the best translation of Faulkner to film, Tomorrow is an emotionally powerful work. Despite some amateurish camerawork and editing, Duvall creates an enduring, genuine character. Home Vision's presentation is worthwhile. Don't wait until tomorrow to discover Duvall's true breakout.

 


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