Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Next Voice You Hear (1950)

What a strange yet somehow compelling film. I mean who thought this was a good idea? More importantly how did they get it to actually work?

The plot of the film has the voice of god being heard on radios across the globe all at the same time and speaking in the language that can be understood by the hearer. Over the course of the week that the voice is heard we watch how his messages upset the lives of believers and unbelievers (including those pesky commies)

I should point out that we never actually hear the voice or the message, we simply see how the nightly messages shake up things.

James Whitmore and Nancy Regan star as Joe Smith and his wife and we watch how the voice of causes ripple in their relationship and those around them. It’s pure soap opera and the sort of thing that nowadays would cause chuckles even on a religious TV channel… and yet once you get past the silliness the film becomes strangely compelling. Obviously it’s going to move into the spiritual and heartwarming territory but once you’re hooked you won’t care. There is a wonderful throwback nature to it all. Actually it’s a throwback to a time that never existed even in Hollywood, I mean no major studio was ever this hokey.

I remember growing up and talking to my cousin Anthony. He had stumbled on the movie (this was in the days before the internet and Turner Classic movies) and he was kind of blown away by the film. Who had they made the film for he wondered? I didn’t know, I had never heard of it and I had to keep it on my list of films to find for a couple of years before I saw it.

When I finally saw it I was kind of dumbfounded. As I said at the top, who did they make the film for? I suspect that this was an attempt to spur a movement in film toward the spiritual, as well as slap the godless commies. It was a film I laughed at, for a while anyway. I laughed because it was so over done, but then I wanted to know how it wa going to come out. What was going to happen.

When the film was done I was amused and ready to move on to the next film, and I did. However unlike many other films this one hung with me. Its been decades since I first saw it and the whole act of seeing this film, and of seeing the strangeness contained within has hung with me. It a film I’ve recommended to many people over the years simply because it has this power to stay with you.

Is it a great film? Not even close. It is however a good one and perhaps best of all a unique one. See the film and I doubt you'll be able to claim its like any other film you've ever seen

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