Hollywood, Sept. 13. - New Yorkers of 50 years hence may draw down from the dusty shelves where forgotten movies rest a quaint roll of celluloid dated 1930 and labeled "Just Imagine," and gather en masse to ascertain what prophetic powers, if any, were possessed by a certain trio of gay song-showmen of our day, the Messrs, DeSylva, Brown and Henderson.
Should this transpire, that future audience will see a screen musical comedy conception, by 1930 prophets, of what their life, customs and dress would be.
Just how good a picture "Just Imagine" will be remains to be seen, but at present it stands out as the most unusual movie idea in Hollywood, one that has not been done before, and that is saying much.
Two or three pictures, true, have looked into the future for their settings, but none on so large a scale as this. "Just Imagine" is laid in New York in 1980.
Secrecy has surrounded work on the picture, and sets built to scale in a vast hangar miles from Hollywood were used to depict "a metropolis where traffic proceeds on many levels, where boats dock at the feet of 230-story skyscrapers, and aerial traffic has supplanted the automobile.
Science has achieved the miracle of reviving a Brooklynite (El Brendel) struck by lightning in 1930. Television long since has ceased to be a novelty, and people have numbers instead of names.
There is a marriage tribunal which confers a desired maiden on the most worthy of her suitors, and this supplies the plot.
The hero (John Garrick), an ocean air-liner pilot, loves Maureen O'Sullivan, but a newspaper publisher (Kenneth Thomson), wins the tribunal's approval.
Garrick, appealing his case, has four months in which to prove his superiority to Thomson - but what can he do? The act that made Lindbergh an international hero in 1927 is just a routine job to him.
Then a scientist offers him opportunity to be the first to fly to Mar, to become the Lindbergh of 1980. Of [unreadable] hectic adventures on the strange planet, to which he is accompanied by Frank Albertson (his friend) and Brendel, the stowaway.
"Just Imagine," say its authors, is not intended, of course, as serious prophecy, but as entertainment.
Just Imagine (1930)
Instant Baby Machine (1930)
Movie Trends of the 21st Century (1982)