Monday, June 15, 2009

Tomorrow Never Comes (1978)

Here's a brutal little item for you all, Peter Collinson's 1978 made-in-Quebec crime drama Tomorrow Never Comes. Oliver Reed trots out his American tough guy accent as Jim Wilson, an embittered, burnt-out cop in a corrupt resort town who, on his last day on the force, must deal with an out-of-control hostage situation.

When Frank (Stephen McHattie) returns to town to find that his girlfriend Janie (a bloated Susan George, near the end of her career as a sexpot) is now the mistress of the richest man in town, all heck breaks loose.

After being on the receiving end of a bad beatdown by some local creeps, Frank's clearly not at his best when he goes to Janie's place to confront her. After woozily menacing a gay bellhop and a black maid, Frank draws the attention of a particularly inept police officer who somehow gets shot with his own gun. And the siege is on.

Director Collinson's greatest claim to fame was his stellar work on 1969's The Italian Job, but most of his filmography consists of such unrelenting nastiness as 1967's The Penthouse, Straight On Till Morning (1972), and Open Season (1974), which are all variations on the same basic plot. Quentin Tarantino has professed a special fondness for Collinson's The Sell Out, from 1976, also with Reed.

The film's Canadian pedigree is obvious by the presence of such canuck character actors as Raymond Burr, John Ireland, and Paul Koslo (particularly bad as Reed's cop rival), cast to satisfy the Government requirement that a certain number of featured roles go to natives of the Great White North. Slumming along with Reed are fellow Brits Donald Pleasance (as a tubercular French Canadian doctor) and John Osbourne, the playwright of Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer. Pity Collinson couldn't convince him to doctor the script.

Still, the movie has its moments. The Laval and Montreal locations evoke a sweet '70s nostalgia (for me, anyway), and the close-up of Ollie hoisting a can of Molson Export Ale is one for the ages. The scene where Reed attempts to bring McHattie to justice by drugging his beer is pretty awesome as well, and the downer ending is well-telegraphed if not well-choreographed.

All in all, a decent time-waster that's worth a rental from Netflix.

Tomorrow Never Comes has recently been reissued on DVD in a bare-bones, full-screen edition by Televista Video.

Originally published 4 December 2007 in BLOG! by JM Dobies, and subsequently at, where you can read hundreds more of my write-ups, mostly film-related, as well as my reviews of books, local Austin places, various types of junk food, and some damn fine ales.

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