THE SPIRIT OF 1976 (1935)
Article 4533 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Leigh Jason
Featuring Walter Woolf King, Betty Grable, Lynne Carver
What it is: Utopian satire
In the Utopian society of 1976, the new leader outlaws work and opens the treasury to the people so they can live in perpetual leisure and vacation. However, after several months of this, a rumble of revolution is heard among the people, who start participating in the illegal activity of work.
What we have here is a 21-minute musical, and if you think about it in any realistic terms, it’s pretty silly. Still, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its uses as satirical science fiction. For one thing, it explores the attractiveness of illegal activities, and it’s pretty easy to find the parallels here to Prohibition and bootlegging, as the short makes it pretty clear. It also deals with the issue of man’s need to create, an activity that clearly requires work. Still, I think the ultimate theme being explored here is that of moderation; after all, the solution the short ends up tendering to solve the Utopian problem at hand is even more ridiculous and extreme than the initial premise, and it’s pretty clear that the public will soon get even more sick of the solution than the problem. In short, despite the fact that what we have here is a silly musical short, it does provide food for thought and speculation.