Monday, April 26, 2010

The Next Voice You Hear... (1950, Wellman)


It’s tempting to take easy shots at The Next Voice You Hear… (1950), William A. Wellman’s literal-minded religious fantasy, in which God adapts to the realities of mass-culture era and broadcasts His message all over the world on the radio.

However, both the material and the way Wellman directed it, are far from banal. James Whitmore’s portrayal of a well-meaning workingman, weary of his daily routine and desperately seeking for comfort of any kind, is in fact very powerful. The source of his angst is his wife’s pregnancy – the dread of lurking labor and possible harm she can suffer is rendered very matter-of-factly. Whitmore’s irregular face is great at expressing confused emotions of his character.

The movie sags when God’s message is cut to a catchphrase-size of a homey “take it easy”. But most of scenes have both rhythm and substance, and there is remarkably little of the condescending tone that pushed the thematically close Red Planet Mars (1952) into the realm of camp, which The Next Voice You Hear… never enters. It’s hard to call this movie a heartfelt piece of work, since the main premise of injecting faith into the hearts of doubters is treated without zeal – but it’s a solid enough movie to keep the viewer from dismissing it as a mere exercise in manipulation.


  1. Have missed your reviews, Michal! Hope you're doing well.

    This one sounds intriguing - will track down a copy.

  2. Hey there Alex,

    good to hear from you! I'm going to send you a copy of this one -- it's really hard to track down, as it hasn't been released by the studio.

    Greetings from Kraków!

  3. This movie is noteworthy in that it's probably the best-known movie starring the future Mrs. Ronald Reagan. I think Hoberman writes about it somewhere.... check Vulgar Modernity.

  4. Yeah, he writes about it in "The B-List", in his great essay on RED PLANET MARS.