The Ruling Voice (1931) Poster

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6/10
Good stuff, but there's no way to end it
marcslope12 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This early Warners social-consciousness riff raises several serious and still-timely issues: racketeering, price-fixing, corruption. And it has a great leading man in Walter Huston, here a racketeer who tries to reform to please his long-unseen daughter, Loretta Young, and become respectable enough to allow her marriage to nice, prestigious-but-broke David Manners, who plays, get this, one Dick Cheney. There's a gallery of interesting characters--Willard Robertson as a revenge-seeking businessman wronged by Huston's trust, Dudley Digges as Huston's utterly humorless second-in-command, Doris Kenyon as a socialite who's against all Huston's principles yet persuasively befriends him. This, and some other hard-to-believe plot twists, are pulled off pretty well, and Huston's as superb as usual. But it all builds to a tense climax that simply can't resolve itself satisfactorily. We want Young and Manners to end up together, and we want Huston to end happily. There's no way for both to happen, and the final image, that of a grocer lowering his prices again now that the racket's been busted, is supposed to suffice as a happy ending. Too much has preceded it, and we're left feeling unsatisfied. Still worth watching, certainly, as evidence of Warners' interest in tackling tough issues in its early talkies, and for Huston's expertise and Young's loveliness (she's good here, too). But I still felt cheated.
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3/10
Started off great....and then just fizzled.
MartinHafer2 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Wow, did this movie start with a bang! There is a "businessmen's association" that offers protection for its members. This is actually a very thinly veiled cover for the mob. A business man is told he CAN'T do business with someone outside the organization. When he does, the consequences actually shocked me--the mob REAAALLY meant what they said! The head of this group of crooks is the well-dressed and well-mannered Walter Huston and when he's behind closed doors with his thugs, he instantly loses his sweet veneer. But to everyone outside this group, he's a respectable and well off gentleman. Even his well-bred daughter (Loretta Young) doesn't know--and it was easier to hide it from her as he had her educated in Europe. But, when he makes the mistake and tells her about his real business, she wants nothing to do with him and leaves to start a life on her own. She even goes so far as tell her fiancé, Dick Cheney (yes, that really is the character's name) that she cannot marry him--though I have no idea why she goes this far. Naturally, Dick won't hear of this and pursues her ardently.

There's a lot more to the story than this, but sadly it never really amounted to very much. Huston got sick of the business and wanted to get out, but oddly, there was very little suspense or action--despite the action early in the film. And, oddly, Huston and Young reunited awfully easily. There WAS a shooting that occurred a bit later--but that occurred off-camera and the entire affair was amazingly muted and dull despite such a promising start. Overall, it turned out to be an amazingly tame dud.
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7/10
Powerful Pre-Noir
Handlinghandel18 January 2005
As he is in "Night Court," Walter Huston is superb in this harsh early mob story. Some might think his change of heart over daughter Loretta Young sentimental but not I. It is psychologically plausible and doesn't sell out the rough nature of the story. Not much ends happily, though the path for Young and David Manners -- a highly improbable couple -- does clear.

Huston is probably best known for "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre." To me, he is first and foremost the fine American businessman in the lovely "Dodsworth." He was very convincing in these earlier unsympathetic roles, though. This movie pulls no punches and has some scary scenes. It doesn't seem at all dated. It could have been made 70 years later -- but teenagers wouldn't be interested so it wouldn't have been.
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Nice Cast; Too Much Talking
Michael_Elliott11 April 2010
Ruling Voice, The (1931)

** (out of 4)

Disappointing crime-drama from Warner has Walter Huston playing a racketeer who will stop at nothing to get as much power and money that he can. The daughter (Loretta Young) he hasn't seen in ten years comes home from Europe with a fiancé (David Manners) but when she learns what her father is really doing she turns her back on him. I'm a major fan of the three leads but sadly this melodrama is way too wordy and in the end it's a pretty boring film from start to finish. The biggest problem is the actual screenplay that doesn't offer very much except for tired dialogue that seems to keep coming and coming. Even the easiest of scenes contain way too much dialogue and the talking just keeps going to the point where you're ready to turn your hearing off just to get away from it. The screenplay is full of predictable things and not for a second will anyone believe the relationship between Huston and Young. There wasn't a single second where I actually believed that he would care about what she feels towards him. I mean, he hasn't bothered seeing her in ten years and all of the sudden he's just going to change his ways? Huston is decent in the role of the racketeer but no one is going to confuse this for one of his better performances. He does seem to be somewhat all over the place in terms of staggering away the set but I'm going to guess this has more to do with the director. Young is as beautiful as ever as this here was certainly a very high point in terms of those beautiful looks. Her performance hits all the right notes and she's wonderful in the sequence where she learns the truth about her father. Manners will always be best remembered for his role in the same year's Dracula but the more I see from him the more impressed I get. He perfectly fits the role of this nice guy trying to make money to marry Young. The film runs a rather short 72-minutes but you'd swear it was twice as long due to the non-stop talk and lack of any real action. Fans of the three leads might want to check it out if they plan to see everything they've done but others should stay clear.
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5/10
Enunciate
boblipton14 November 2004
A potentially interesting entry in Warner Brothers' series of crime dramas is weakened by an improbably wordy script, stagey performances -- Walter Huston, in this early role, seems to have no sense of where the camera is -- and an outright awful performance by Doris Kenyon, who, although fifth-billed, is actually the female lead.

Despite the ethnic types that inhabit the better Warners crime dramas, the Irishmen and Italians, this one seems to be inhabited solely by WASPS who wear impeccable, old fashioned clothing.

On the plus side, Loretta Young is in her luminously beautiful phase, an absolute pleasure to look at, although she isn't given much to do. David Manners is adequate as the juvenile lead and the idea of the story, how honest men can be driven to become criminals, is potentially interesting. But this movie doesn't live up to its potential.
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6/10
marginal
SnoopyStyle20 October 2019
Ruthless crime lord Jack Bannister (Walter Huston) causes countless hardships. His daughter Gloria (Loretta Young) is returning home after ten years in an European boarding school. When she discovers his criminal work, she breaks her engagement to her boyfriend Dick Cheney. She's ashamed of her own father and fears entangling anyone else to his organization. He launches a milk war and she is threatened over it.

It's an entry in the WB gangster movie genre. Huston's performance is more stuffy than Godfather. It would be better to have Jack Bannister get his hands dirty early in the movie. Instead, he's a CEO dressed in a suit. He's vicious but he's not that different from the many psychopaths in the executive suites. The ending is rushed and unrealistic. It's odd that it doesn't even show the shooting. It's a marginal gangster movie.
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4/10
One Interesting Idea is Not Enough to Carry Early Talkie
LeonLouisRicci14 January 2015
Dull and Talky Early Talkie that has an Insightful Idea About Slick Suited Business Types Actually Running the Mob. A Behind Closed Doors Peek at the Money Men and the Machine They Operate that Causes Harm and Pain for the Average Citizen.

There is a Creepy Atmosphere of No Empathy. They Even Take Milk from the Mouths of Babes. Except for the Fresh Concept of Adding Machines Instead of Machine Guns there isn't Enough Here to Recommend. A Message Movie that is Mundane to Say the Least.

Also, it is a Pre-Code Movie with Nothing that Would Not Pass Post-Code. Loretta Young Fans Might Want to Check In and See the Star in an Early Role. Walter Huston is Bland and it Certainly is a Role that Just About Anyone Could Play, and He Looks Bored.
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9/10
Another marvelous Walter Huston performance
Kind6718 October 2019
This is a very well-acted suspense/message film that holds you in its grip the entire way. Other reviews have described the plot so I won't go into that here. The other reviewers seemed to want more violent action in the film, but the film wasn't intended to be an action film but rather make you understand how the characters feel and you can do that through words. I really enjoyed this and was very moved by all of the main characters. I found the acting of everyone gripping and believable and there are a number of twists and turns that make you unsure of how it will end. A wonderful film that I think most Walter Huston fans will especially enjoy although Doris Kenyon also gives a fine performance as well as do the entire cast.
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6/10
Emotional family drama
HotToastyRag30 September 2018
In The Ruling Voice, Walter Huston gets to play both of his specialties: a father and a charming villain. I've seen 26 of his movies, and in almost all of them he's played a dad! He's the head of a racketeering organization, but when he reveals his occupation to his innocent daughter, Loretta Young, she's ashamed and afraid of him. Oh, the hurt on Walter Huston's brow! He's such a powerful actor; he's credited as the man who started the racketeering business and has ordered terrible things to the opposition, but when Loretta hurts his feelings, he looks so sad and tender, it makes you want to cry.

Loretta is engaged to David Manners, whose character is named Dick Cheney, which provides a chuckle whenever he's mentioned. Besides that character's name, there's nothing funny about this movie. It's a family drama, with Walter trying to repair his relationship with his daughter at the heart of it. Naturally, I'm on Walter's side. Why can't Loretta respect her father's hard work and realize he loves her more than anything else in the world? Doesn't she know how charming and handsome he is, and how deeply she can hurt him?

Doris Kenyon appreciates him, and they share a few scenes together that sparkle with conflicting chemistry. "Well, there goes the devil," he quips as he leaves the room, an ironic foresight to a role he'd play ten years later. Walter Huston fans should check this one out; make it a double-feature with Night Court for a thrilling evening.
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