Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Just Imagine" Pictures Life and Love 50 Years From Today (1930)

The September 14, 1930 Syracuse Herald (Syracuse, NY) ran a piece about the people of 1980 who may stumble upon the 1930 film Just Imagine. At the time this article was published the film had not yet been released. The entire article appears below.
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.

See also:
Just Imagine (1930)
Instant Baby Machine (1930)
Movie Trends of the 21st Century (1982)


JC said...

I don't suppose one of the characters was named Equality 7-2521?

Anonymous said...

The people of 1980 and beyond would completely misinterpret the first paragraph at first, let alone the rest of the artcle. Gay song-showmen, hee!

Unknown said...

The best part is this:

"[...] 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."

So... in *1930* they were complaining about the repetitiveness and derivativeness of Hollywood movies, eh?

Considering that in 2007, 5 of the top ten grossing movies were sequels, and at least 5 were adaptations from other media (books, comics, TV series). Some of the sequels were *also* adaptations. There were only one or two genuinely new movies in the lot.

The more things change, eh?

Stacia said...

You'd be surprised how many movies in the '30s and '40s were already remakes of silents or early talkies. I don't think it's as bad as today, but it's notable.

"Just Imagine" gets very little right about 1980; if I recall, hand dryers in the bathroom were the only thing it got right. Beautiful scenery, though, I wish it was available on DVD.