Just Imagine Reviews
Now there's a typical story here as well about boy gets girl, but it's of little importance beside the extravagances of speculation of what life will be like in the future. And its a musical too. Interesting about the film is not what they got wrong (and they do that easily 75% of the time) but what and how our grandparents, our great grandparents, and our great-great grandparents dreamed about what was to come. Some of the fantasies are wild and nutty, but most retain significant parts of the culture of their time, like they knew things were gonna change but kept their dreaming in a way they could still understand so that it didn't get far away from them. In one scene people blithely stand mere feet away from a rocket taking off. One central character is not only Jewish, but Jewish played for laffs no less (Woody Allen's Sleeper was only 43 years away), implying that in the future, in 50 years, racial hatred would be done away with (and this hope for the future only a couple of years away from the Holocaust) I loved this movie for that quality. On its own, its pretty hokey now, but at one time somebody saw this and was amazed at what the future could be like.
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Of course, the film is also outdated.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.
I watched it again recently. Between the last time I watched it and this time I watched some of MÃ©liÃ¨s' short films. I can see where some of this film may have been inspired by MÃ©liÃ¨s's work, particularly the fact that it has musical numbers in it. Though the MÃ©liÃ¨s films were silent many of them had dance numbers incorporated in them.Either that or the action was so well timed and choreographed that it seemed like dancing.
A science fiction trip to mars in 1980 that is a musical! This is a must see absurd - trip if you can find a copy. Lovely, art deco sets. Futuristic guesses about the 80s ala 1930, including the hand dryer, the video phone, and the pill instead of dinner. And of course, everybody has their own airplane! Great pre-code fun.
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!