JUST IMAGINE (1930)
Article #207 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 10-9-2001
Posting date: 2-22-2002
A man struck by lightning in 1930 is resurrected in 1980 to take in the wonders of the future. He helps a man to win the hand of the woman he loves by getting him to perform a brave feat: taking the first trip to Mars.
There are definite reasons for science fiction fans to catch this forgotten movie; the sets are absolutely stunning, and watching past visions of the future are always highly entertaining, even when the future in question is now the past. 1980 was never like this, at least not where I come from, though they did get the bit about the automatic hand driers right. However, it’s a little disconcerting to realize that the first science fiction epic produced by the United States was a romantic musical comedy, with really bad music and really lame comedy. Most of the comedy revolves around liquor having been replaced by pills, thereby getting around prohibition (remember, it was still in place at the time the movie was made); there’s even a whole song about it. The sequence on Mars manages to sneak in a bunch of humor that would have never gotten past the censors after 1934, especially in the matter of the sexual preferences of one of the Martian guards. Ultimately, it’s the curiousity value that makes this movie fascinating; it’s so surreal and bizarre it’s hard to believe this movie was actually made, and you find yourself glued to the screen despite the comedy and music (and the fact that the print was in such poor condition). I bet this movie is just waiting to be rediscovered. And it is one of the few science fiction movies of its time to give us a full-blown vision of the future on Earth AND a full-blown look at Martian life.