persona non sequitur

a review of media by a slightly jaded baby boomer.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

JUST IMAGINE (1930) nominated for Academy Award for best art direction. I saw JUST IMAGINE several months ago. It's an old Science fiction film from 1930. Somewhere it has been described as a satire of Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS. That's being kind, and attempting to give JUST IMAGINE too much credit. JUST IMAGE is a cookie cutter variation of the film RIO RITA, which came out a few years previously, and was a successful early musical. Down to the two comic stars of RIO RITA, there's an attempt to replicate the team of Wheeler and Woolsey. There are two singing doofuses in JUST IMAGINE. JUST IMAGINE is a musical. That description is also too kind. The art direction is all art deco and certainly adds to an 'otherness' to the film if only the people and plot would just stay out of the way. But is is a movie...and movies are supposed to have people in them, and this isn't Andy Warhol. This was once a lost film. Forry Ackerman said it was one of the top ten lost films of science fiction. A print of it was found, semi-restored and it has played a few Science Fiction conventions. It doesn't get a big round of applause. It's kind of dull. In the future (the the film's frame of reference, it's 1980), people have numbers for names. And some number(LN-18) wants to marry another number, but someone else's number is up, the the cute numbered couple can't get married unless J-21 does something spectacular in order to convince the genetics board judge to okay the union, otherwise it goes to someone with the evil name of Z-4. (I'm assuming it's Z-4. The only other evil name is MT-3, or is it B-36?) Watching this at a convention is a disadvantage to having a DVD and a remote: you can fast forward over the musical numbers. I heard them and they lack the ability to be remembered. They're sung and played well, but that's not always what's needed. Swedish comic El Brendel plays Single- 0. He's initially from 1930. He was hit by lightening and revived. He comes back to life and completes his golf swing. He was on a golf course when he "died". He and Maureen O'Sullivan are the only people in the group who display realistic talent. El Brendel is the only one who can deliver a joke properly. Let me elaborate: El Brendel is hungry. His friends take him to an automat, press a couple of buttons and a pill drops out. He swallows it, notices he is full and says "I prefer the old fashioned way." Then he gets an alcoholic drink from a bottle. It is another pill. He swallows, gasps for air and says "I prefer the old fashioned way." He spies a couple putting information into a machine, and a baby in a bassinet pops out. He says "I prefer the old fashioned way." There aren't any other good jokes in this movie. It's supposed to be funny. Or make you smile. In order to "do something" to impress the judge a man comes out of nowhere, and offers J-21 the job of flying a spaceship to Mars. I looked at my watch a lot. I skipped chapters. They go to Mars. They come back. They get married. It isn't any good. The dog is playing Frisbee with the DVD. Trivia notes: the spaceship used to go to Mars was saved from this clunker and used in a few Flash Gordon serials, as are the elaborate dance numbers the Martian natives put on for whatever reasons you can come up with. JUST IMAGINE. It could have stayed lost.

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At 11:54 AM, Blogger Pagan Topologist said...

Where did you see it?

At 1:10 PM, Blogger Robert Whitaker Sirignano said...

On my DVD player.


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