Director: Peter Collinson
Screenplay: Sydney Banks, David Pursall, Jack Seddon
Cast: Oliver Reed, Stephen McHattie, Susan George, Raymond Burr, Donald Pleasence
Producers: Michael Klinger, Julian Melzack
Print Source: Cinémathèque québécoise
A year before his turn in David Cronenberg’s THE BROOD, the immortal Oliver Reed took top billing in this gritty, nasty crime drama as Jim Wilson, a cop in a corrupt resort town whose last day on the force is rudely shattered by an out-of-control hostage crisis. Shot entirely in Quebec, TOMORROW NEVER COMES is a late-career gem from the director of THE ITALIAN JOB that wears its Canadian exploitation credentials proudly, with stellar use of Montreal and Laval locations and plentiful cans of Molson Export.
Reed excels at hamming it to the max, but the real gold in TOMORROW NEVER COMES is a nerve-shredding performance by a young Stephen McHattie (PONTYPOOL) as Frank, a spurned man on a brutal, misguided vengeance streak to win back his girlfriend. McHattie is a livewire, a raw wound of rage and frustration infecting every frame, while his ex-main squeeze Janie is played by gorgeous Susan George, delivering a fragile, bruised performance that builds upon her definitive role in Sam Peckinpah’s STRAW DOGS. When Frank’s hunt for Janie dredges up the truth — that his beloved is now a mistress for the richest bigshot in town — Frank kicks off a brutish bar fight that leaves him bloodied, battered, brain-damaged and clearly off his rocker, tracking Janie to the towering Hotel Barbazon, the film’s central location, where Frank proceeds to batter his ex, terrorize the maid and shoot a cop. With Janie now Frank’s hostage, a battle of wits commences between McHattie and Reed, who hopes to talk Frank down before his trigger-happy partner Willy (Paul Koslo) storms in with tear gas and guns blazing, spelling certain doom for both Frank and the girl.
TOMORROW NEVER COMES is remarkable for the seemingly endless role call of Canadian heavies — McHattie, Koslo, John Ireland, Raymond Burr, plus a guest spot from ever-welcome Donald Pleasence as a comedy-relief doctor. Oliver Reed continually amazes with his outrageous methods of hostage negotiations — kickin’ back in the shade drinking Molson Export, sending a child to deliver Molson Export to Frank, tampering with cans of Molson Export (was there a sponsorship deal?). But it’s the morally twisted interplay between McHattie and George that delivers the most intense, ruinous and rewarding drama, as Janie is reduced to the “prize” in a pissing contest between tough-talking, stubborn, armed and testosterone-overloaded men. TOMORROW NEVER COMES is also notable for Roy Budd’s funky, bombastic, occasionally schizophrenic score, and cinematography by François Protat, who shot Canadian kid’s horror classic JACOB TWO-TWO MEETS THE HOODED FANG the same year.