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Back to the Future (July 3, 1985)

Back to the Future Theatrical PosterDVD REVIEW

BRIEF PLOT SYNOPSIS

A teenager is transported from 1985 to 1955 and prevents the first important meeting between his parents. Now, he has one week to make his parents fall in love and to get himself back to the future. Read an extremely detailed synopsis here.

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GENERAL FILM INFORMATION

GENRE: Comedy/Science Fiction
TAGLINES:

  • 17 year old Marty McFly got home early last night. 30 years early.
  • He was never in time for his classes, he wasn’t in time for his dinner. then one day, he wasn’t in his time at all.
  • Marty McFly’s having the time of his life. The only question is – what time is it?
  • Meet Marty McFly. He’s broken the time barrier, busted his parent’s first date, and, maybe, botched his chances of ever being born.
  • Marty McFly just broke the time barrier. He’s only got one week to get it fixed.
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SETTING: Hill Valley, California; USA (1985, 1955)
FILMING LOCATIONS:

  • Arleta, California; USA (Exterior of the McFly House)
  • Copley, Ohio; USA
  • Gamble House; Pasadena, California; USA
  • Puente Hills Mall; City of Industry, California; USA
  • Victory Boulevard; Burbank, California; USA
  • Whittier high School; Whittier, California; USA

U.S. RELEASE DATE: July 3, 1985
RUNNING TIME: 116 Minutes; 1 hour 56 minutes
RATING: PG
OPENING WEEKEND GROSS: $11,332,134 on 1435 screens (USA)
TOTAL GROSS USA: $210,609,762
TOTAL GROSS OUTSIDE OF USA: $140 million

CREW AND OTHER TECHNICAL INFORMATION

WRITER: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale
DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis
PRODUCER: Neil Canton, Bob Gale
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Steven Spielberg
EDITOR: Harry Keramidas & Arthur Schmidt
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dean Cundey
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Lawrence G. Paull, Ted Hallowell
ORIGINAL MUSIC BY: Alan Silvestri
SPECIAL EFFECTS BY: Industrial Light & Magic
OPTICAL EFFECTS: Movie Magic
COSTUME DESIGN: Deborah L. Scott
MAKE-UP BY: Ken Chase
HAIR STYLIST: Dorothy Byrne
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Amblin Entertainment, Universal Pictures
DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures
ASPECT RATIO: 1:85:1

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CAST :: CHARACTER NAME…ACTOR NAME

Marty McFly…Michael J. Fox
Doctor Emmet L. Brown…Christopher Lloyd
Lorraine Baines-McFly…Lea Thompson
George McFly…Crispin Glover
Biff Tannen…Thomas F. Wilson
Jennifer Parker…Claudia Wells
David McFly…Marc McClure
Linda McFly…Wendie Jo Sperber
Sam Baines…George DiCenzo
Stella Baines…Frances Lee McCain
Mr. Strickland…James Tolkan
Skinhead Jeffery…Jay Cohen
3-D…Casey Siemaszko
Match…Billy Zane
Marvin Berry…Harry Waters, Jr.
Goldie Wilson…Donald Fullilove
Babs…Lisa Freeman
Betty…Cristen Kauffman
Clocktower Advocate…Elsa Raven
Pa Peabody…Will Hare
Ma Peabody…Ivy Bethune
Sherman Peabody…Jason Marin
Peabody Daughter…Katherine Britton
Milton Baines…Jason Hervey
Sally Baines…Maia Brewton
Dixon…Courtney Gains
Terrorist…Richard L. Duran
Terrorist Van Driver…Jeff O’Haco
Scooter Kid #1…Johnny Green
Scooter Kid #2…Jamie Abbott
Lou Caruthers…Norman Alden
Cop…Reed Morgan
Bystander #1…Sachi Parker
Bystander #2…Robert Krantz
Guy #1…Gary Riley
Girl #1…Karen Petrasek
Red…Buck Flower
The Starlighters…Tommy Thomas, Granville ‘Danny’ Young, David Harold Brown, Lloyd L. Tolbert
The Pinheads…Paul Hansen, Lee Brownfield, Robert DeLapp
Newscaster…Deborah Harmon (uncredited)
High School Band Judge…Huey Lewis (uncredited)
Stunt Co-Ordinator…Walter Scott
Michael J. Fox’s Stunt Double…Charles Croughwell
Stunt Crew…Rrichard E. Butler, Loren James, Max Kleven, Bernie Pock, Spiro Razatos, Robert Schmeczer, John-Clay Scott, Per Welinder, Bob Yerkes

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SOUNDTRACK :: SONG TITLE…COMPOSER/LYRICIST…PERFORMER

The Power of Love…Huey Lewis & Chris Hayes…Huey Lewis & The News
Back in Time…Huey Lewis & Chris Hayes…Huey Lewis & The News
Heaven is One Step Away…Eric Clapton…Eric Clapton
Time Bomb Town…UNKNOWN…Lindsey Buckingham
Mr. Sandman…UNKNOWN…The Four Aces
The Ballad of Davy Crockett…Tom Blackburn and George Bruns…Fess Parker
The Wallflower (Dance With Me Henry)…Johnny Otis & Etta James…Etta James
Night Train…UNKNOWN…The Starlighters
Pledging My Love…UNKNOWN…Johnny Ace
Earth Angel…Curtis Williams…Marty McFly & The Starlighters
Johnny B. Goode…Chuck Berry…Marty McFly & The Starlighters

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AWARDS AND HONORS

Academy Awards, 1986

NOMINEE: Charles L. Campbell & Robert R. Rutledge
CATEGORY: Best Sound Effects Editing
RESULT: Won

NOMINEE: Johnny Colla, Chris Hayes & Huey Lewis
CATEGORY: Best Song: “The Power of Love”
RESULT: Nominated

NOMINEE: William B. Kaplan, B. Tennyson Sebastian II, Robert Thrilwell & Bill Varney
CATEGORY: Best Sound
RESULT: Nominated

NOMINEE: Bob Gale & Robert Zemeckis
CATEGORY: Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
RESULT: Nominated

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British Academy Awards, 1986

NOMINEE: Harry Keramidas and Arthur Schmidt
CATEGORY: Best Editing
RESULT: Nominated

NOMINEE: Neil Canton, Bob Gale & Robert Zemeckis
CATEGORY: Best Film
RESULT: Nominated

NOMINEE: Bob Gale & Robert Zemeckis
CATEGORY: Best Original Screenplay
RESULT: Nominated

NOMINEE: Lawrence G. Paul
CATEGORY: Best Production Design
RESULT: Nominated

NOMINEE: Kevin Pike & Ken Ralston
CATEGORY: Best Special Visual Effects
RESULT: Nominated

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Golden Globe Awards, 1986

NOMINEE: Back to the Future
CATEGORY: Best Comedy or Musical Motion Picture
RESULT: Nominated

NOMINEE: Johnny Colla, Chris Hayes & Huey Lewis
CATEGORY: Best Original Song in a Motion Picture: “The Power of Love”
RESULT: Nominated

NOMINEE: Michael J. Fox
CATEGORY: Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical Motion Picture
RESULT: Nominated

NOMINEE: Bob Gale & Robert Zemeckis
CATEGORY: Best Screenplay for a Motion PIcture
RESULT: Nominated

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Hugo Awards, 1986

NOMINEE: Back to the Future
CATEGORY: Best Dramatic Presentation
RESULT: Won

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The People’s Choice Awards, 1986

NOMINEE: Back to the Future
CATEGORY: Favorite Motion Picture
RESULT: Won

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Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) Awards, 1986

NOMINEE: Bob Gale & Robert Zemeckis
CATEGORY: Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
RESULT: Nominated

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Young Artists Awards, 1986

NOMINEE: Back to the Future
CATEGORY: Best Family Motion Picture; Adventure
RESULT: Won

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EXTRAS

Sequels and Spin-Offs

Is followed by Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III (1990)
Back to the Future” (1991) – Animated TV Series

Trivia

Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly and much of the film was shot with Stoltz. However, the film makers believed he was playing the part too intensely and went after Michael J. Fox for the part. After Fox was cast, Marty’s costume was completely revamped and all of Stoltz’s footage was re-shot.

Eric Stoltz later played Martin in the film The Fly II. Therefore, he played Martin the Fly. (Yeah, that’s a stretch, but I found it kind of amusing.)

The time machine went through several variations. In the first draft of the screenplay the time machine was a laser device that was housed in a room. At the end fo the first draft the device was attached to a refrigerator and taken to an atomic bomb test. In the third draft of the film the time machine was a DeLorean, but in order to send Marty back to the future the vehicle had to drive into an atomic bomb test. Another consideration was to make the time machine a refrigerator. In an interview, Robert Zemeckis stated that the idea was scrapped because he and Steven Spielberg did not want children to start climbing into refrigerators and getting trapped inside.

Main Street in Hill Valley is the same set that is used in Gremlins (1984).

The script never called for Marty to repeatedly bang his head on the gull-wing door of the DeLorean. This was improvised during filming as the door mechanism became faulty.

The driver of the Jeep at the beginning of the film was Kevin Pike, the special effects supervisor of the film.

Webmaster’s Film Review

Disclaimer: These views are the opinions of the Webmaster only, unless otherwise noted.

Back to the Future has been, and probably always will be, the quintessential moment in Michael J. Fox’s career. It was this film that catapulted him to international fame and many years of success in the film industry. The television series “Family Ties” is probably more important in Michael J. Fox’s history overall, but it was Back to the Future that truly began his phenomenal success.

The plot of Back to the Future is pretty unique; Young Marty McFly (Fox) gets sent back to 1955, when his parents (Crispin Glover and Lea Tompson) were his age. Within hours of his arrival, he has met his father and disrupted the most important moment in his parent’s romantic relationship. This leads to the ever-creepy result of Marty’s mother ‘having the hots’ for him, her own son. With the help of his eccentric friend, Doctor Emmet Brown (Christopher Lloyd), Marty has a week to get his parents together to ensure his own survival and get himself ‘back to the future.’ (It is a catchy title, isn’t it?)

Unlike many of today’s movies, which rely way too much on flashy effects and over-hyped actors, Back to the Future was a success because it’s core plot is not about saving the world, or stopping an evil menace so…well…evil, that mankind itself is in danger. This movie is simply about a young man trying to ensure the survival of what he holds most dear – himself and his best friend, Doc Brown. (He’s a 17 year old. What did you really expect him to care about, his parent’s relationship? Pshaw!) The time-travel stuff is fantastic and is in the realm of science fiction, but the true story is one that is quite realistic and believable.

Back to the Future was (and is) a film that appealed to a wide audience. Again, unlike today’s films, this movie was not only targeted towards teenagers, but to their parents. Teens could identify with Marty while older viewers could relive a time that they remembered, a time that produced great waves of nostalgia – the 1950′s. The story was fast paced, fun, never got too serious but never delved into the realm of camp.

Michael J. Fox’s performance is especially commendable due to the fact that during the filming of this movie, he was also rehearsing “Family Ties” during the day. His lack of sleep never shows and his performance is full of an energy that often causes Fox’s performances to sparkle, even in some of his not-so-great movies.

Another character that will always be immortalized in film history is Doctor Emmet Brown, portrayed by Christopher Lloyd. Lloyd has a special knack for portraying off-beat, quirky personas and has brought classic characters to life such as Reverend Jim of “Taxi” and Judge Doom of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

The ‘quirkiest’ character in this film, though, is George McFly, portrayed by Crispin Glover, famous for his odd portrayals and maybe more famous for his sometimes odd behavior. This film marked the third time that he worked with Michael J. Fox, the previous instances being an episode of “Family Ties” and the TV film High School U.S.A.

Why to Watch This Movie: The movie is a high-quality, well-written, superbly-directed and flawlessly performed piece of cinematic history. Oh, and the story is loads of fun!

When to Watch This Movie: Anytime you’re in the mood for a good comedy with some bits of flashy special effects thrown in.

Goofs: Continuity Errors

When the DeLorean goes one minute into the future, the fire goes between Doc’s legs, but when the camera switches angles, it no longer does.

When Marty is escaping from the Libyans, the time circuit is already on when he moves his hand from the ignition to the gearshift. However, when he shifts the second time, the time circuit is off until he bumps its power switch.

In the Skateboard chase scene, the skateboard suddenly gains modern wheels and trucks.

When Marty pretends to be Darth Vader, the hair dryer in his belt appears and disappears at random.

When Marty returns to 1985, the “Last Time Departed” showing on the time circuits says October 26, 1985 1:21 AM. It should read November 12, 1955, 10:04 PM. The former time was the time Einstein got back from his trip.

Goofs: Anachronisms

The episode of “The Honeymooners” that the Baines family is watching on November 5, 1955 was, in reality, not shown until December 31, 1955.

In 1955 Marty plays a Gibson ES-345, a model of guitar which didn’t exist until 1959.
**NOTE: I previously had stated that the guitar Marty used was the ES-355 model (also made in 1959). The correct model was pointed out to me by site visitor ‘Matt.’ Thanks, Matt!)

In 1955, when Marty tells Doc that Ronald Reagan is President in 1985, Doc exclaims, “I suppose Jane Wyman is the First Lady!” However, Reagan had already divorced Jane Wyman and remarried to Nancy Davis.

Goofs: Incorrectly Regarded as Errors

In the opening scene, Doc’s invention overflows Einstein’s food bowl. When Marty enters, an empty bowl is seen. However, this is Einstein’s water bowl.

After Marty returns to 1985 he runs two miles in under 10 minutes. However, these two miles are road miles. Marty took a short cut.

Although not widely used until after the establishment of the SI in 1960, the metric prefix ‘giga-‘ was invented in 1951, so it is very possible that Doc would have known of it in 1955.

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Quotes

You don’t have a chance; you’re too much like your old man. No McFly ever amounted to anything in the history of Hill Valley.

Yeah, well, history is going to change.

–Principal Strickland and Marty McFly

This is heavy.

Weight has nothing to do with it!

–Marty McFly and Doc Brown

Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the Earth’s gravitational pull?

–Doc Brown

Why don’t you make like a tree..and get out of here.

–Biff Tannen

Last night, Darth Vader came down from planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn’t take Lorraine out he’d melt my brain.

–George McFly

Entertainment References (Link to IMDB)

Script: First Draft

Photo Gallery (Film stills only – to see other Back to the Future images, visit the Picture Gallery)

 

Back to the Future :: Script – First Draft

BACK TO THE FUTURE written by Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale FIRST DRAFT 24 February 81 “Physicists propose that two alternate histories, two equally valid realities, could exist side by side: the one you know, and the one in which you don’t exist. Time itself may have many potential dimensions, despite the fact that we …

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