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The Ruling Voice

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THE RULING VOICE
(1931)
A WB / First National Pictures Production
Directed by Rowland V. Lee
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With:
Walter Huston, Loretta Young, Doris Kenyon, David Manners, John Halliday

Directed by Rowland V. Lee, who would later direct Karloff and Lugosi in the lavish Son of Frankenstein, The Ruling Voice is DM's third picture with Loretta Young. Heading the cast is Walter Huston, the acclaimed actor and father of legendary director John Huston. Huston was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in Dodsworth (1936) and later won an Oscar for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (directed by son John) in 1948.

Posing as a successful building contractor, Jack Bannister (Walter Huston) is really an underworld kingpin, raking in a fortune with a "protection racket." A man used to getting his way through blackmail, extortion, and murder, Bannister sits atop an empire of blood. His daughter, Gloria, (Loretta Young) returning from Europe after ten years away at school, informs him that she plans to marry Dick Cheney (DM) who has arrived with her. The name Cheney impresses Bannister and Gloria soon tells him Dick's mother would like to know what type of business he runs. Never having been told about her father's activities, she is shocked and disgusted when she learns the truth. Ashamed, Gloria breaks her engagement with Dick, determined to make her own way. Although dormant for many years, Bannister's conscience begins to bother him and he makes plans for an acquaintance, Mrs. Stanton, (Doris Kenyon) to hire Gloria as a French tutor for her child. When The Consolidated Dairies refuse to pay the syndicate, Bannister calls a meeting of his board of directors, only to tell them he is resigning because of his daughter. As the board is unwilling to "let him off the hook" he then decides to "go to war" with The Consolidated. Realizing that Gloria and Mrs. Stanton's son are in danger (Mrs. Stanton has secretly been working for his enemies) Bannister threatens his cronies with prison if they do not call off the war. As his "system" has become an out of control monster, he is betrayed, set up, and eventually killed in his own home by one of his former victims. Previously, however, he repents and re-unites with Gloria. The film ends with the whole system being smashed and food prices reduced.

As Dick Cheney, DM delivers the usual young man in love role he played so often. Huston is interesting as Bannister and the film is moderately enjoyable. According to Variety, "Huston steps on the other side of the fence, doing the brains of what the picture calls "The System," a set-up that extolls tribute from the food business. He is less spectacular and less effective than usual, but considering the strikes on him through the wobbliness of the story he does what is possible. Loretta Young plays the daughter in a so-so manner. Opposite her for love interest, which is weakly developed, is David Manners. Both are far outshone by Doris Kenyon, who, as a building owner, is fighting the system with a woman's weapons." Certainly one of DM's lesser titles, The Ruling Voice was known as Upper Underworld during production.


The Ruling Voice

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