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A written statement in the end credits acknowledges the assistance of the City of Tupelo, Lee County, where the film was shot, the Community Development Foundation in Tupelo and the Oakland Community in Itawamba County, MS. Tupelo is located about thirty miles from the birthplace of William Faulkner, the author of the short story on which the film was based. The title of the film is derived from words that are spoken by the lawyer in the film and in Faulkner's original short story: "the lowly and the invincible of the earth...endure tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow."
Voice-over narration in the framing story is provided by Peter Masterson, who portrays "Lawyer Douglas" in the film. The narration is set in the present, and accompanies visual flashback sequences related to the trial of "H. T. Bookwright," an event which had occurred earlier in the narrator's life. The majority of the film, which is a flashback occurring approximately twenty years before the trial, is the story of "Jackson Fentry," "Sarah Thorpe Eubanks" and her baby. Although there is a 1971 copyright statement for The Filmgroup Productions in the onscreen credits, the film was not registered by them until 1982 under the number PA-130-745.
Faulkner's short story "Tomorrow" was first published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1940 and later appeared in his 1949 anthology Knight's Gambit. Horton Foote, who won an Academy Award for his 1963 film adaptation of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird (see entry above), adapted the story into a play for the television show Playhouse 90, which aired on CBS-TV on March 7, 1960. The television version starred Richard Boone and Kim Stanley and was directed by Robert Mulligan. Foote rewrote and expanded his play, which ran for twenty-five performances in 1968 at the HB Playwrights Foundation Theatre in Greenwich Village, New York City. That production was directed by Herbert Bergof and starred Robert Duvall and Olga Bellin, who reprised their roles of Fentry and Sarah in the 1972 film.
In the original Faulkner work, the story is told in a flashback narrated by the lawyer's nephew, who was twelve years old at the time of the trial. The nephew relates that he and his uncle visited Fentry's neighbors and acquaintances after the trial and, using their recollections, were able to understand and sympathize with the reason Fentry stubbornly refused to acquit Bookwright. As noted in a September 1983 Los Angeles Times article, Foote added the dialogue between Fentry and Sarah, none of which was in the original Faulkner story. In an October 1972 LAHExam article, the film's co-producer, Paul Roebling, stated that while the original story emphasized a miscarriage of justice theme, the filmmakers chose instead to develop the love story.
Roebling was a Broadway, film and television actor, the husband of Bellin, and son of banker Mary Roebling. His partner, Gilbert Pearlman, was a former publicist for Columbia and Disney studios and later, a writing partner with Gene Wilder. According to an October 1969 Daily Variety news item, Roebling and Pearlman formed The Filmgroup Productions, Inc. with off-Broadway producer Davis Weinstock II. Although the partners had planned to make six films within three years, Tomorrow marked the only feature film producing effort of Roebling and Pearlman.
Tomorrow also marked the only feature film of Bellin and the last directed by Joseph Anthony. According to the New York Daily News review, James Franks, who portrayed "Preacher Whitehead," and Johnny Mask, who played the young "Jackson and Longstreet," were Mississippi locals. A modern source adds Robert Raglan to the cast.
According to a June 1972 Variety news item, during the film's New York run, some critics considered the title to be a "poor Boxoffice come-on" and joked that the side-street marquee at the 68th Street Theatre where the film played looked like an incomplete announcement for the theater's next attraction.
A January 17, 1973 Variety news item stated that the distribution of Tomorrow was being "self-promoted" and privately negotiated by Pearlman and Roebling. However, a later January 1973 Variety news item reported that Lawrence Friedricks Enterprises Inc. had been hired to publicize the film. Tomorrow had its premiere in New York, where most critics, with the exception of the New York Times reviewer, Vincent Canby, highly praised the film. The Los Angeles opening was held at the County Art Museum and was sponsored by the American Film Institute. Tomorrow was entered in the Cannes, Dallas and Stratford film festivals. The National Society of Film Critics named Tomorrow as an example of the kind of film that would be honored by a new category for "neglected" films. Cue named Duvall Best Actor for his performance. According to a May 1976 Variety news item, the film was on the Year's Ten Best lists of film critics Judith Crist, Gene Shalit, Archer Winsten, Wanda Hale and Jeffrey Lyons.
A May 1976 Variety news item reported that Tomorrow was acquired by Ray Blanco and Kevin Kelley of A. J. Bauer & Co., which planned to represent the film at that year's Cannes Film Festival and which was planning a re-release. According to an August 1992 Daily Variety news item, Gerard Depardieu considered making a French version of the film, but the project never reached fruition. According to a September 1983 Los Angeles Times news item, Tomorrow was Duvall's favorite performance to that time.