Friday, October 5, 2012
|7:00 p.m.||The Next Voice You Hear|
William Wellman (U.S., 1950)
Joe (James Whitmore), a mechanic at the Ajax Aircraft Plant, returns to his modest home in suburban Los Angeles. His ten-year-old son Johnny (Gary Gray) is there, along with his pregnant wife Mary (Nancy Davis). While listening to the radio, the program is interrupted by a self-identified Voice of God informing the audience that “I’ll be with you for the next few days.” The sermons mount up over the following week, reverberating through the lives of Joe and his nuclear family; each summons some essential fear at a moment when the United States was losing its monopoly on atomic power and Hollywood itself was regrouping in response to the new medium of television. “Despite its bland, earnest, self-congratulatory corn,” writes Hoberman, “The Next Voice You Hear is a study in terror; it acknowledges an actual anxiety and, however pitifully, responds to a real sense of helplessness. ‘You’re not supposed to worry about the fate of the world until you’re big enough to shave,’ Joe tells Johnny after God’s second broadcast—or should we say, civil defense warning.” On the seventh day, the radio went silent.
• Written by Charles Schnee, based on the short story by George Sumner Albee. Photographed by William Mellor. With James Whitmore, Nancy Davis, Gary Gray, Lillian Bronson. (82 mins, B&W, 16mm, From UCLA Film & Television Archive)