Film (1930). Fox. Directed by David Butler. Written by David Butler, Ray Henderson, G G DeSylva, Lew Brown. Cast includes Frank Albertson, El Brendel, John Garrick and Maureen O'Sullivan. 113 minutes. Black and white.
The failure of this expensive sf blockbuster – one of a flood of musicals that appeared after the advent of sound in movies – may help explain why Hollywood kept clear of sf subjects (except in the context of horror) for so long afterwards, but it was the whimsicality of the silly story, rather than its sf content, that led to Just Imagine's failure. A man is struck by lightning while playing golf in 1930 and wakes to find himself in New York in 1980. Thereafter he acts as comic relief. There follow a stowing-away on a spaceship, a beautiful Martian princess, and a romantic-triangle plot between two 1980 men and a 1980 woman (who like everyone else in 1980 have numbers rather than names), all interspersed with banal musical numbers. The special effects are good for their period, and the sets by art directors Stephen Goosson and Ralph Hammeras are spectacular, in particular the huge, futuristic model, which cost $250,000 to build, of New York City. This city of the future is imaginatively designed and just as memorable as its obvious progenitor, the one in Metropolis (1926). [JB]
see also: Music.
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