The Next Voice You Hear… (1950)

THE NEXT VOICE YOU HEAR… (1950)
Article #822 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-15-2003
Posting Date: 11-12-2003
Directed by William Wellman
Featuring James Whitmore, Nancy Davis, Gary Gray

The voice of God begins to appear nightly on the radio, and this has a deep impact on an ordinary American family.

Title check: Since the title highlights the impact of the event and is actually used at two key moments in the story, it is a very appropriate title indeed.

I’m pretty wary of movies like this; they just seem to invite preachiness of the most overbearing kind. Yes, it does get fairly preachy, but it also allows its main characters to play real people rather than mere pawns in a story, and this is the movie’s strength; James Whitmore’s performance in particular makes good use of the fact that even if you like a character, you don’t have to like everything that he does. In fact, the movie’s willingness to allow the character to react honestly about the unfolding events gives the movie a real power it would otherwise lack. Unfortunately, this falters somewhat in the second half of the movie; some of the events definitely seem contrived here, and at least one character has a complete personality change that can only be explained by the fact that the movie is now trying to drive the message home. Two interesting touches; we in the audience never actually hear the voice of God on the radio; we always hear about it second hand. And I admire the fact that they actually make some sort of attempt to make Nancy Davis look pregnant (though not as pregnant as she actually should be) rather than just telling us she is, as so many other movies from the period would do.

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