Just Imagine Reviews
The SFX are excellent for 1930, the music is decent and the writing can either be solid or silly. The acting all belongs in a film set in 1930. The wardrobe is just contemporary wares made askew; they hardly tried.
Of course, the film is also outdated. The film's poor view of women was archaic by the time of its release. Even though technology has advanced considerably, scientists have no sense of ethics, e.g. threatening to kill subjects for asking questions. As for stereotypes, Jews control [the aviation] business, the only job an Irishman can get is "street cop", and gays are sissy maries.
A strange entry from early Hollywood.
Trying to figure a way out of their fate, they join friends D-6 and RT-42 (apparently there's less than 67,600 people on Earth--that's the only way this number system would work) at an important scientific event where a group od professors bring back a man who's been dead for fifty years. The man, once among the living once more, is promptly dismissed by the scientists and the gang takes him under their wing. The man calls himself "single zero," speaks with a swedish (?) accent and promptly gets drunk off of a bunch of pills.
Soon, J-21's problems are solved when he's randomly chosen to fly the first airplane to Mars, which would result in his stature in the city being increased. D-6 and Single Zero join him and the world and their respective love interests await their return....
Then things get [i]really[/i] silly.
JUST IMAGINE is an amazing science fiction melodrama musical comedy with vaudeville numbers, pre-code humor, a reference to Henry Ford's anti-semitism, hairy gorilla monsters, a musical number dedicated to drinking, prohibition jokes, Martians with evil twins, a gay joke, great sets and alien royalty systems straight out of a jungle goddess movie. In short, a fascinating timepiece that's so horribly dated that it gets a new kind of charm.
Sure, some of the musical numbers are kind of... well, painful, but "The Drinking Song" has moved into my permanent roster of great movie musical bits. The melodrama is tiresome at times as well, an unfortunate side effect of being a film made before they discovered that mixing wildly different film genres didn't work too well. And the plot will hurt your head if you think about it.
If you just go along for the ride, however, JUST IMAGINE is a jaw-dropping treat from the REEFER MADNESS era in which they manage to get just about every prediction of the future so horribly wrong you can't believe your eyes. The acting is as fine as you'd expect so close to the silent era, though El Brendel (playing Single Zero) is more vaudevillian than actor. (He also turned up in Corman's SHE CREATURE decades later!)
Sadly, it's never been released on video, but it's a great reason to get the Fox Movie Channel. Still, I'd love to see a remastered version of this without the scratches and with decent sound and a crisper picture. Someone get on this! I command it!