15 Fun Facts: Back to the Future Part III

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I now conclude my look at the Back to the Future trilogy by posting fun facts about the final movie in the series. This movie is very different from the others, taking place in the 19th century, rather than the 20th or 21st like the others. But I still enjoyed it for its light-hearted approach to western tropes. It also had some good character development for Marty, as he learned there are better ways to stand up for yourself than picking fights whenever someone calls you a coward. But did you know the following?

  1. Mary Steenburgen  (Clara Clayton) actually starred in a time-travel movie called Time After Time, alongside Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) as none other than HG Wells, writer of The Time Machine. The movie had Jack the Ripper steal Wells’s Time Machine from the book and use it to cause terror in 1970’s era San Fransisco. It’s a pretty good movie, and I recommend it.
  2. Although the trilogy ended with this movie, there was a spin-off cartoon series in which Doc Brown’s children, Jules and Verne, had time-travelling adventures of their own.
  3. Thomas F. Wilson based his performance as Mad Dog Tannen on the villain in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
  4. The writers got Clint Eastwood’s permission to use his name as an alias for Marty. He saw the humor in it and was honored.
  5. When “Mad Dog” tried to lynch Marty,Michael J. Fox was accidentally hanged, rendering him unconscious for a short time. He records this in his autobiography Lucky Man.
  6. The movie 1000 Ways to Die in the West has a cameo appearance by Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown. A character accidentally enters a barn which just happens to be where Doc Brown was hiding out, complete with the DeLorean.
  7. Marty happens upon a Frisbee pie tin. He throws it at Buford when Buford tries to shoot Doc Brown. This is supposedly how the Frisbee came to be.
  8. There’s a scene where Marty tries out a shooting gallery and tells the man selling Colt .45’s that he learned to shoot at the 7-11. In some international versions of the movie, 7-11 is changed to Disneyland because 7-11 is not as famous outside of the US.

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15 Fun Facts: Back to the Future Part 2

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Image Description: The Back to the Future II movie poster. It has Michael J. Fox

and  Christopher Lloyd as Marty McFly and Dr. Emmit Brown. They are stepping out of the DeLorean and checking their watches. The tagline reads: Getting back was only the beginning.

Earlier this year, I posted an article with fun facts about the original Back to the Future. I figured I should do the same with the rest of the trilogy. So, let’s talk about Back to the Future Part II.

1. Let’s start with some things the movie actually predicted:

  • The fall of laserdiscs (The DeLorean lands in an alley with laserdiscs in trash bags).
  • Video phone conversations, like on Skype and FaceTime.
  • 80’s nostalgia.
  • Pepsi Max (it debuted in 2007). Still waiting on Pepsi Perfect.
  • TVs with more than one screen (We call it “Picture in Picture”).
  • Nike has announced self-tying shoes, just like the ones Marty wears in the movie.

2. Crispin Glover sued Robert Zemeckis, resulting in his being replaced.

3. Marty’s sister was going to be in the movie, but the actress was pregnant. There was a cut scene featuring his brother Dave which is still accessible on the DVD. (I actually think the scene should be in the movie, especially because of its foreshadowing. He asks Marty: “Since when were you and your mother on speaking terms?”)

4. Elijah Wood made his acting debut in the movie. He’s one of the kids watching Marty play Wild Gunman.

5. In another cut scene, Biff was erased from existence after he changed history. This was included in a test version of the movie, but when it confused the audience, they cut it out. (You can access it on the DVD version. Yes, this scene should’ve stayed too)

6. At the school dance, Biff spiked the punch. George is shown drinking the punch prior to the scene where he punches Biff. Could George have gotten “liquid courage”?

7. The date on the USA Today newspaper that Doc Brown shows Marty reads 10/22. This is Christopher Lloyd’s birthday.

8. In the newspaper from the alternate 1985, we see that Richard Nixon has been elected president for a fifth term. What other story taking place in an alternate universe has Nixon serving five terms? Watchmen! (Wonder if Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale read it?)

9. Marty’s shirt he wears in 2015 depicts cowboys and a train. Foreshadowing the next movie, perhaps?

10. Charles Fleischer, the original voice for Roger Rabbit (he was later replaced by Jessi Harnell in the shorts that were made after Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), plays the old man who gives Marty another “Save the Clock Tower” flyer. In the antique shop, you can actually see a plush Roger Rabbit in the window.

11. Claudia Wells, who played Jennifer in the first movie, was replaced by Elizabeth Shue in parts 2 and 3. This is because Wells quit acting because her mother was diagnosed with cancer and she wanted to take care of her.

12. While the scene where Michael J. Fox is playing 2015 Marty, Marty Jr, and Marlene (Marty’s future daughter) was being filmed, an earthquake occurred. Amazingly, the props were unaffected!

13. When 2015 Marty is playing his guitar after he is fired, he is playing the opening riff from the Huey Lewis and the News song “The Power of Love”, which was in the first movie.

14. On the marquee of the theatre in 2015 Hill Valley is the movie Jaws 19. It has the tagline “This time, it’s really, REALLY Personal!”, parodying the tagline for Jaws 2, “This time, it’s personal.”. It is advertised as being directed by Max Spielberg, Steven Spielberg’s son. Max was actually born in 1985, when the first movie came out, oddly enough.

15. One of the screens in Café 80’s shows Taxi, the sitcom where Christopher Lloyd played Reverend Jim.  Another screen shows Family Ties, the sitcom where Michael J. Fox played Alex P. Keaton.

Back to the Future Tribute: 15 Fun Facts and 10 Favorite Moments

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The Back to the Future trilogy turns 30 this year. I fondly remember going to the theater to see all three movies and enjoying every movie, even the third. So to celebrate this milestone, I’m writing three tribute articles, one for each movie in the franchise. Each tribute will have 15 fun facts and my top 10 favorite moments.

15 Fun Facts From Back To the Future

  1. As I’m sure you know, Huey Lewis and the News contributed two songs to the soundtrack: “The Power of Love” and “Back in Time”. Huey Lewis also makes a cameo. He’s the judge with the bullhorn when Marty’s band, the Pinheads, tries out for the Battle of the Bands. (“I’m afraid you’re just too darn loud.”)
  2. The high school scenes were filmed at Whittier High, Richard Nixon’s alma mater. The prom scenes were shot at a center run by a Methodist church.
  3. In the scene where Marty dresses up in the radiation suit to scare his dad, he plays a Van Halen song at full blast to scare George McFly. The song is “Donut City”, an instrumental song.
  4. Doc Brown’s 50’s house is the famous Gramble House in Pasadena, CA. The interior scenes were shot at the Blacker-Hill house, another house that is also owned by Proctor and Gramble. (the company makes Ivory Soap)
  5. The man who owns the malt shop in 50’s Hill Valley also voiced Aquaman in the Superfriends cartoons made by Hanna-Barbera in the 70’s and 80’s.
  6. Speaking of the malt shop, in the Wii video game based on the franchise, you go to Depression-era Hill Valley. In this era, the malt shop is a facility for the Sisters of Mercy (no, not the Goth Rock pioneers, the actual charity).
  7. Christopher Lloyd based his portrayal of Doc Brown on Leopold Stokowski, a conductor known for making big sweeping gestures while he conducted.  Lloyd imagined himself conducting the universe itself.
  8. In addition to Huey Lewis and the News, two other 80’s musicians contributed to the soundtrack.  Eric Clapton recorded “Heaven is One Step Away” and Lindsey Buckingham (of Fleetwood Mac fame) recorded “Time Bomb Town”.
  9. Robert Zemeckis tried to pitch the movie to Disney. They refused because of the scene where Lorraine says that kissing Marty is “like kissing my brother”. They thought it implied incest.
  10. Originally, the time machine was going to be a fridge, not  DeLorean. Bob Gates, the script’s writer, changed it to a DeLorean when he worried that kids would stuff themselves in fridges to pretend to go back in time. Three DeLoreans were used in filming the movie.
  11. When Doc Brown’s dog, Einstein, goes back in time, his stopwatch reads 1:21. This is also the number of gigawatts needed to power the flux capacitor.
  12. The clocks in Doc Brown’s lab are an homage to the 1960’s adaptation of HG Wells’s The Time Machine. Same goes for the red, yellow, and green LED read-outs on the DeLorean’s console.
  13. Old Man Peabody, the pine tree breeder, is named after Peabody, the time-travelling dog in the Bullwinkle and Rocky companion shorts “Peabody’s Improbable History”. His son is given the name Sheldon in the script (he’s the boy who thinks the DeLorean is actually a UFO because it looks like the UFO in his comic book and Marty is actually an alien), after the boy in the cartoons.
  14. Eric Stolz was the first choice to play Marty because Robert Zemeckis thought Michael J. Fox would be too busy with his role as Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties. On the Blu-Ray release, you can access footage with Stolz playing Marty.
  15. When all the kids are kicking George McFly around because of his kick me sign, you can see a sign on the wall reading “Bob Woodward for Class President”. Bob Woodward was the grip.

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15 Fun Facts About “It’s A Wonderful Life”

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 I have decided to start a new series called “15 Fun Facts About Movies”.   It’s a Wonderful Life is one of the most famous Christmas movies ever. It’s my #1 favorite Christmas movie and I watch it every year.  But how much do you know this movie? Here’s some great facts I found.

  1. The movie is based on the short story “The Greatest Gift” by Phillip Van Doren Stern.  Among the differences are:
  • George Bailey’s last name is Pratt in the original story.
  • Clarence is not named in the story. In fact, he’s not even an angel.  George is instead helped by a mysterious brush salesman who gives George his wish that he was never born. He also tells him to pose as a brush salesman so that people will be more willing to talk to him.
  • George Pratt has only one child in the story, not three like in the movie.

2.  Originally Cary Grant was going to play George Bailey, not Jimmy Stewart.

3. RKO bought the story and sold the rights to Capra’s Liberty Films for $10,000.

4. Carl Switzer, better known as Alfalfa from the Little Rascals (or Our Gang, depending on your preference) shorts, appears in the movie.  He’s the man who is talking to Mary before George invites her to dance at his brother’s high school reunion. (he’s the guy who opens up the floor that reveals the pool underneath)

5. Kingston Falls, the setting for Gremlins, is modelled after Bedford Falls, the setting for It’s A Wonderful Life.

6. The movie did not win any of the five Oscar nominations it received.

7. The movie was such a disappointment in its original theatrical release that Capra was never able to recover with any of the other movies he made afterward.

8. Sesame Street‘s Bert and Ernie were not named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver. That is an urban legend. However, there is an Elmo Christmas special that makes a joke about the legend.

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