Fox Archives: ‘Just Imagine’ (1930) looks 50 years into the future

by

Picture yourself transported 50 years into the future: a world of flying cars (with wing-to-wing traffic), meals in pill form and manned missions to Mars. This reality seems within grasp for us in 2018, but in the film “Just Imagine,” produced by Fox Film Corp in 1930, this was the vision of America in 1980.

The film, a sci-fi romantic comedy/musical, centers around a pilot named J21 (names have been replaced with numbers) who is deemed unworthy by a government-appointed marriage tribunal to marry the woman he loves. The rest of the film centers on his quest to be deemed worthy by the government by leading the first ever expedition to Mars.

The film is replete with elaborate sets, over-the-top comedic performances and acutely accurate predictions on modern technology like the ring doorbell, video conferencing and advancements in technology that allow scientists to produce babies in laboratories. While the version of the future portrayed in the film isn’t quite how the 1980s and beyond turned out, it is a fascinating look into the past to see what people imagined the future would hold.

The Fox Archives is mandated to collect, catalog, preserve and make accessible the following assets of the 20th Century Fox studios: props, set decoration, photographs, art department and publicity materials from our film and television productions, and from the 20th Century Fox studio itself. We work primarily with internal Fox groups but also from time to time with outside organizations such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.