Harry Saltzman had produced James Bond and Harry Palmer films, but he wanted to work with Don Kirshner, who had just had a big success as the producer of The Monkees. They had a three-picture deal, but it barely made it through this movie.
Saltzman had originally brought on David Benedictus to write the film, but didn’t like the script and kept him writing it while he asked director Val Guest (The Quatermass Xperiment) to write his own script. Once the film started shooting, the writer did eventually learn that a new script had been completed.
Guest also had no idea that Benedictus hadn’t been informed. And it got worse for Guest, who would go six months over schedule on the making of the film and was never paid. He was smart, though. He waited until after the film’s premiere to obtain an injunction that stated that Toomorrow couldn’t be shown until everyone was paid. As of 1994, that hadn’t happened.
This meant that this movie was shown in one theater for one week, then on some British military bases in 1971 and 1972, then sat on the shelf until it played a special LA Film Festival in 2000. When Kirshner died in January 2011, Pickwick licensed the film from the estate of Guest and released the film on DVD. (Much of Kirshner’s catalog is under the tutelage of SOFA Entertainment & Historical Films.)
So how is it? It’s a hippie musical from 1970 about aliens, man. How do you think it is? It even has Roy Doltrice* (who was in Eliminators) as an alien that falls in love with humanity. Then again, if humanity includes Olivia Newton-John, here all of twenty-two years old, well, you can totally get his point. She is seriously angelic here. The production team told her that she would have to strip to her underwear for a scene in the film, which caused her to burst into tears. I wish I could punch every one of them in the taint to protect her modesty.
So why Kirschner? The goal was to transform the band Toomorrow from this film into its own band. But with no film — no band. Every member was paid for two years of the film’s production and had a three-picture contract, too.
It’s a movie of its time. That said, it’s silly and fun in all of the best ways. How can you even think a campy n’ trashy, sci-fi-bubblegum-pop blowout produced by James Bond’s Harry Saltzman and The Monkees’ Don Kirshner starring Olivia Newton-John could be anything but fun?
The maniacs at Deranged Visions had a video tribute posted on You Tube, which we posted. But that account has since left the platform. But no worries, since Pickwick’s 2011 release of the film, fans have ripped many clips of scenes and tunes from the film. Fans have also recently uploaded the full film — it comes and goes from You Tube, so watch it while you can.
Here’s some of the other uploads of songs from the film:
Olivia Newton-John w/Toomorrow – “If You Can’t Be Hurt”
Toomorrow – Open Credits from Japanese print
Toomorrow – The Complete Soundtrack
Olivia Newton-John “Toomorrow” interview
For more clips and songs, just You Tube “Toomorrow” and enjoy the fun!
As for Don Kirshner: His lone screenwriting credit was on the hippie-western parody The Kowboys (1970) made with the same production team behind The Monkees. As with Toomorrow, that TV movie served as a pilot for a failed U.S. Monkees-inspired music series. After his failures to transform The Kowboys and Toomorrow into the next Monkees, Kirshner set his sights on Kim Milford (of Corvette Summer and Laserblast fame) and his post-Jeff Beck Group endeavor, Moon. The band starred in two ABC-TV movies: Song of the Succubus and Rock-a-Die Baby. While Kirshner produced and music consulted a wealth of even more TV series and specials for the networks (such as creating The Archies, music for The Flintstones, working with Sid and Marty Kroffts, The Harlem Globe Trotters, the Hudson Brothers, and producing the Greg Evigan-Paul Schaffer starring series A Year at the Top (yep, B.J and Artie Fufkin!)), Kirshner produced his first dramatic movie proper with the Michael Parks-starring The Savage Bees (1976). He quickly followed up with the TV movies The Night the Took Miss Beautiful (1977), Terror Out of the Sky (1978), and The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal (1979).
Will we review all of these Kirshner telefilms? You know B&S About Movies’ motto: Never say, never.
* The crazy career of Roy Dotrice lead him from Kirshner, to dubbing Harvey Keitel’s “Brooklyn accent” for his character Benson in Saturn 3, as well as serving as Commissioner Simmonds in Space: 1999 (which appears in the series’ theatrical films Destination: Moonbase Alpha and Alien Attack), Cheech & Chong’s The Corsican Brothers, Milos Forman’s 1984 multiple Oscar Winner, Amadeus, and King Baylor in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Like we said: crazy!