I love a good list of movie facts, and that goes double for a movie that’s as enduring as Back the Future. There’s always some new, obscure moment that everyone forgot to mention until years later.
And we, of course, eat it up. At least I do.
20. Ronald Reagan was a big fan
I knew I liked the guy! He apparently thought the jokes about him becoming President (The actor? Who’s the vice president? Jerry Lewis?) were so funny that the projectionist at the screening had to rewind it so he could watch it again.
Not only that, but he quoted the film (Where we’re going, we don’t need roads) at his 1986 State of the Union address.
19. You can spot the clocktower clock wayyyyy back in 1885
It’s being unloaded from the train while Marty and Doc talk to the conductor.
18. The script was rejected 40 times before Universal agreed to take it on
Disney apparently had an issue with the “incest” plot line (referring to Marty kissing his eventual mother in the 1955 timeline). They called it a “movie about incest,” which seems a little obtuse to me. But their loss!
17. Doc isn’t above bribing the police to look the other way
While Marty is in the foreground slipping a warning note into Doc’s jacket, the man himself is in the background giving a policeman a bribe after he asked for a permit.
16. Van Halen denied the request for their music to be used in the movie
That’s why the cassette Marty has in the scene where he dresses like Darth Vader is labeled Edward Van Halen – Eddie Van Halen agreed to secretly record some licks solo for the part.
15. Did you ever notice the man hanging off one of the clocks in the opening sequence?
You might think it’s referring to what Doc would do later in the film, but it’s actually an homage to the 1924 classic Safety Last!
14. The Rotten Tomatoes score for Back to the Future III (74%) is higher than II (63%)
A lot of people think the third film is super underrated. What about you?
13. The real time elapsed between Marty and Doc meeting up and the time on the movie clock are only 90 seconds apart
That’s basically the same in Hollywood speak.
12. The time machine was originally supposed to be a refrigerator
You might remember this concept from when it actually got used (in the Indiana Jones iteration no one wants to talk about). It wasn’t any better of an idea the second time around, if the reaction by critics and audiences is any indication.
11. Red the Bum in 1985 was Mayor Red Thomas from 1955
Remember? Marty saw his campaign car and told busboy Goldie Wilson that someday he would be mayor, and he returns to 1985 at the end of the first film, he says “Red, you look great” to the bum asleep on the sidewalk.
10. Crispin Glover did not appear in the sequels, for obvious reasons
Money, people. It’s always about the money.
9. Eric Stoltz was set to play Marty McFly
The “serious” actor was fired for being too dark and broody, and last minute changes on Family Ties allowed Michael J. Fox to take the role. The latter brought just the right pitch to what writers and producers saw as a more comedic part.
8. Doc wears the same shirt with trains on it in Back to the Future II and III
In Part II, it’s a shirt.
In Part III, he ties it around his face to rob the train.
7. The college football scores that Biff is listening for on the radio are real
UCLA beat Washington with a last second field goal from Jim Decker on November 5, 1955.
6. Michael J. Fox’s shooting schedule was insane for about three months
According to his memoir, Michael J. Fox’s day started on the Family Ties set at 9:30 a.m. He’d stay there until after 6 p.m., when he was shuttled to either Universal or to a location, and he didn’t often return home until sunrise.
Good thing he was only 22. Sounds like an extended finals week in college.
5. Huey Lewis initially turned down his awesome cameo
You know he ended up playing the judge who called out The Pinheads for being “too darn loud,” but there had to be some negotiating first. But after working out the details – he’d be in disguise and would go uncredited, to name a few – it was on.
That’s him on the bullhorn.
4. Michael J. Fox wasn’t singing or playing the guitar
Mark Campbell received only “special thanks,” no actual credit, for singing “Johnny B. Goode: in the first two films. Fox did take guitar lessons so that he could fake it better, though!
3. There’s at least one pretty glaring continuity error
When Marty first arrives back in 1955, he lands on Peabody’s Farm, where he rams a scarecrow. It flies over the hood of his car…and then it doesn’t, as it lands face first on the windshield. Oops.
2. In the French version, Marty wears Pierre Cardin underwear, not Calvin Klein
Which means Lorraine would think her future son’s name was Pierre, not Calvin.
1. Moviegoers didn’t know there would be more to come…
The “To Be Continued” card wasn’t added until the movie went to video, because the actors and studio weren’t yet locked into the sequels.
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