Today is Back to the Future Day and we all know what that means – everyone is comparing how well the movie predicted the future. Everyone except me. Yeah yeah, we know Lexus made a hoverboard all ready, instead I want to engage you in some trivia from the Back to The Future trilogy that will blow your mind.
THE CLOCK TOWER
The clock tower in this trilogy is mission critical for all of the films. Without it Marty wouldn’t be able to go home (to his present day) in the first film. I love that in Back to the Future 2 it’s been turned into a courthouse mall with all glass panes in the front. Marty’s chase scene ends with Griff’s gang smashing right into it which changes the headlines on the newspaper and ultimately, the future. In the last film the clock tower has just been built when Buford tries to hang Marty on it. There’s even a pic of Marty and Doc standing in front of the face of the clock before it’s been mounted to the building. Here’s a fun fact: the ledge on the clock tower that Doc broke in 1955 is still broken in 2015.
“MOM? MOM, IS THAT YOU?”
First piece of trivia is on one line in the movie: “Mom? Mom, is that you?” I bet you didn’t realize this but Michael J. Fox says the famous line five times throughout the Back to the Future trilogy. He says once in each film after a scene when he is knocked unconscious and wakes up in the home of a relative.
In Part I, it is his teenage mother in 1955. In Part II, it’s his mother in an alternate timeline and in Part III, it’s his great-great grandmother in 1885. Each time, Marty wakes up groggily after several hours, thinking the previous events were only a dream. Each time he is reassured that he is safe and sound by Lea Thompson’s character, “in good old 1955”, “on the good old 27th floor”, or “at the McFly Farm”. Each time, the location shocks Marty to full awareness. In Parts I and II, Marty exclaims “Mom! You look so…” and then some attribute of his mother he is not used to (as in, “Mom! You look so… big!” in reference to her breast implants). In addition, Marty also gets knocked out by his earlier self in Part II when he is confronted by Biff at the backstage door. (source)
In Back to the Future 2, he says the line twice as Marty McFly Jr.’s sister, Marlene. Wait, you didn’t know Marlene is played by Michael J. Fox? Say what? I mean, know that you know it’s kinda obvious, right? Okay, you knew that already? Well, did you know the role of Marlene McFly was originally written for Crispin Glover?
DOC GETS KNOCKED OUT X3
In the vein of talking about Marty being knocked out, let me go ahead and lay this one on you too: Doc gets knocked unconscious in each film from the trilogy too. You may not realize it because they technically don’t show it in the first film but he explains the accident to Marty: he was in his bathroom and he slipped and hit his head on the sink and he blacked out. When he came to, that’s when he had a vision and the idea for the flux capacitor. Ah, you remember now? He even has a bandage and a cut on his dome piece for several scenes. In the second film, Marty comes back from the future and when Doc sees him he faints. In the last film of the trilogy Doc downs a shot glass of whiskey in ye ol’ saloon and then hits the table hard and head first. Ouch.
So everyone remembers George McFly (played by Crispin Glover) from the first film but his role in the other films? Not so much. That’s because he wasn’t in them. There are a lot of stories out there about what really happened. Some say it was because he was offered $125,000 to film the sequel and that was significantly less money than his fellow co-stars like Lea Thompson and Thomas F. Wilson were getting. But to be fair, he was offered more than that but when he tried to negotiate the producers lowered the salary even more. Crispin, who is still angry about this, believes it was done purposefully because he publicly criticized the ending of the first film (where the McFlys viewed money and material possessions as rewards). But other people say Crispin wanted a million dollars to film the movie, which is crazy. And let’s face it – Crispin Glover is crazy so I believe it. My opinion is no one liked working with this guy so when it was finalized that he wouldn’t be in the sequel, they rewrote the script so his character was in the film less and hired Jeffrey Weissman to play George. They used facial prosthetics and filming tricks (like shooting him upside down or with sunglasses) to make it less obvious to the audience. But at the end of the day Crispin got near his million dollars anyway ($765,000) when he sued Universal for doing this and they settled out of court.
Ah, Hill Valley. Home sweet home for Marty McFly as well as the characters in Bruce Almighty, Sneakers, and Gremlins. Okay, here’s the fun fact I wanted to share with you– when the town was created for the first film in the Back to the Future trilogy they built the town in tip top shape and then filmed the scenes for 1955. Then they damaged it and filmed the scenes for the 1985 version of the town. There was never supposed to be a sequel so no one thought about what would happen when they needed to film Hill Valley again. Well, when they did decide to create the sequel after all, they had to clean up the set they had previously destroyed. It ended up costing them more money to rebuild it than to build it from scratch.
Alright, I guess I will talk about the hoverboard after all. In the first two films Marty uses some version of a skateboard to escape the bullies that are chasing him. In the first film it’s a soapbox scooter that he breaks and turns into a modern skateboard. In the second film we have the famous hoverboard. Even though the concept of CGI was just starting when Back to the Future 2 came out, they barely used those effects in the movie. In fact, a lot of practical effects were used instead. The hoverboard scenes specifically used a lot of special effects and camera tricks. They shot some scenes with Michael J. Fox on a harness and to do that they ended up drilling the soles of his shoes into the hoverboard. This meant that he had to be carried around in between takes of these scenes. Hilarious.
You may remember the “Cafe 80’s” restaurant in 2015 from the previous versions of itself. In 1955, it was the home of “Lou’s Cafe” and in 1985 it was a workout center. There’s an aerobics class taking place in the window in case you aren’t convinced. The restaurant space is also a place Marty is told frequently he shouldn’t be.
In Part I, in Lou’s Cafe of 1955, Biff Tannen says to George McFly: “Hey, McFly, I thought I told you never to come in here.” In Part II, that same space is occupied by Cafe 80’s of 2015, where Biff’s grandson Griff says to Marty Jr.(having previously seen him walking in after mistaking his time-traveling father for him inside): “Hey, McFly, I thought I told you to stay in here!” And in Part III, that same space is occupied by the Palace Saloon, where Biff’s ancestor Buford Tannen says to Marty (mistaking him for Marty’s great-great-grandfather Seamus McFly before he realized that he wasn’t): “Hey, McFly, I thought I done told you never to come in here.” (source)
Ok, last fun fact about the cafe. The televisions inside Cafe 80s are playing a lot of shows that were from the 1980s. Two of those shows are actually Family Ties (1982) and Taxi (1978)… and guess who starred in those said shows? Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, respectively. Mind blown.