6. As any fan knows, Eric Stoltz (the guy who plunged the adrenaline into Uma Thurman’s heart in Pulp Fiction) was the original Marty McFly but was fired for being too dark and brooding in what was supposed to be a more comedic role. The decision wasted about six weeks in shoots and nearly $4 million. But, watching the clips of Stoltz, a fine actor, it’s clear why the Marty move was made.
In the end, the moviemakers got who they wanted all along: Michael J. Fox, who couldn’t make the film initially because of conflicts with his sitcom Family Ties. But the show had to change its schedule when Meredith Baxter (Elyse from Family Ties) giving birth to twins in real life and Fox jumped. Though he pulled doube-duty for months, fans might have the birth of those twins to thank for Michael J. Fox being in BTTF.
7. Though editors deny Stoltz appears in any scene, fans are convinced there are at least two shots of Stoltz that still remained in the film. When Marty dives into the DeLorean upon the Libyans arrival at the mall at the beginning of the film, it’s thought to be Stoltz.
And also, Thomas F. Wilson, who played Biff, insists that it’s Stoltz he’s punching in the scene in the diner because the actor, who goes unseen, is considerably taller than the diminutive Fox. (Wilson concedes it could have been a stunt double.)
8. Because of the dual shooting schedules, Fox, who was 22 at the time, had a ridiculous working schedule for the three-and-a-half months of shooting in which BTTF and Family Ties overlapped. He described it in his 2003 memoir, Lucky Man:
“A teamster driver would pick me up at 9:30 a.m. and take me to Paramount, where I would spend the day rehearsing that week’s show, culminating in a run-through at approximately 5:00 p.m. each afternoon. Then at 6, another teamster driver would pick me up and shuttle me to Universal Studios or whatever far-flung location we were based that evening, where I would work on [Back to the Future] until just before sunrise.
At that point, I’d climb into the back of a production van with a pillow and a blanket, and yet another driver would take me home again—sometimes literally carrying me into my apartment and dropping me into my bed. I’d catch two or three hours sleep before teamster driver number one would reappear at my apartment, let himself in with a key I’d provided, brew a pot of coffee, turn on the shower, and then rouse me to start the whole process all over again.”
9. This fact is insulting to even the most moderate Back to the Future fans, but we had to include it for those who correctly don’t spend their time looking for hidden messages in films. At the start of the movie, when Doc shows Marty the DeLorean for the first time (“the way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style“), the whole scene takes places at Twin Pines Mall. At the end, when Doc is saved because of his bulletproof vest, it’s called Lone Pine Mall, in reference to the pine tree Marty took out while speeding away from Ol’ Man Peabody’s farm when he first arrives in 1955.
10. Speaking of Old Man Peabody’s farm, this isn’t the worst movie continuity error ever, but when you watch a film 100 times, it jumps out. As Marty first hits 1955, he plows into a scarecrow on the Peabody property. In the first cut, the scarecrow clearly flies over the head of the car. But in the next cut, the scarecrow’s face is directly on the windshield. I’ve never felt like such a dork in my life. Now I know what all those Star Wars fans were feeling on Monday night.
11. Ronald Reagan loved the film, especially when 1955 Doc was in disbelief that Reagan was the president in Marty’s 1985. “The actor? Who’s the vice president? Jerry Lewis? I suppose Jane Wyman’s [Reagans’ first wife] is first lady!” He evidently laughed so hard that the projectionist had to rewind the film because Reagan wanted to see it again. Later, in his 1986 State of the Union, Reagan quoted the final line from the first film — “roads, where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”
12. It always seemed strange that when Marty dressed in his “Darth Vadar”costume to scare George into going along with the plan, the cassette he used was labeled “Edward Van Helen” as opposed to the band’s actual name, Van Halen. Turns out the band denied the filmmakers’ request to use their music, but Eddie Van Halen agreed to perform a few licks on his own, something that went unknown until he admitted it years later.
13. When Marty returned to 1985 at the end of the original, he encountered a bum sleeping on sidewalk. “Red, you look great,” Marty said, just in general, happy to be back to his normal time. That Red was Mayor Red Thomas from 1955, whose campaign car Marty saw earlier in the movie and used it to tell busboy Goldie Wilson that he’d one day be mayor.
14. In the first part of the original, when the story takes pains to show how much of a loser George McFly is, he pours an overflowing bowl of peanut brittle and gets a disgusted look from Marty. Turns out, the origin of that peanut brittle was from a deleted scene in which the father of a little girl on a softball team bullies George into buying the brittle as a fundraiser (an entire case at $5 per box), all while Marty tells him to say no, thus symbolizing even more George McFly weakness.
15. In 1885, there was a Hill Valley horse salesman named Jeb Statler. In 1985, Marty Fines for a custom 4×4 from Statler Toyota.
16. The college football scores Biff hears on the radio when driving to the dance in 1955 are the actual scores from Nov. 5, 1955. When Biff puts on a UCLA-Washington game in which he hears the No.4 Bruins down 17-16 and the team win on a field goal at the last second, that actually happened on a kick from Jim Decker. The radio broadcast was not the same, however.
17. In the French version of BTTF, 1955 Elaine believes Marty’s name to be Calvin Klein because it was written on his underwear. For the French version, a different name was used.
18. During the scene in front of the covered DeLorean that will send Marty back to the future courtesy the 1.21 jigawatts of electricity coming through the lightning strike at the clocke tower, the focus is on Marty putting Doc’s warning note in his jacket. But behind him, Doc is getting away without having a permit for his “weather experiment” by giving the policeman a bribe.
19. USA TODAY was was featured in Back to the Future II when Doc was showing Marty what happened to his son after getting involved with Griff. (The date is Oct. 22, one day after “future day,” for obvious reasons.) The highlight is clearly “Cubs Sweep Series in 5” (something you’ll hear about 1,000 times if the Cubs actually win the World Series or i they’re eliminated on Future Day, which is possible). The holographic news board also says the sweep was over Miami, a franchise which didn’t exist at the time. Then, when a team was placed there, they were called the Florida Marlins, only recently changing to Miami and making the board even more prophetic. However, Miami and Chicago could never play in a World Series (they’re both in the National League) and the newspaper predictst hanks to the Cubbies’ five-game sweep) that the World Series would move to best-of-nine. It also discusses Queen Diana and, on USA TODAY‘s famous Newsline, mentions a female president. It also oddly puts facts about Marty’s son in the “Sports’ section for some reason.
Though the film missed the whole Internet thing, the effect of changing the newspaper at a moment’s notice did sort of foreshadow the ever-changing news media of 2015, just with a lot less Donald Trump coverage. And quite famously, there are no hoverboards in our 2015. Still, the film nailed three huge technological developments, three of which were pioneered by Apple: thumb print technology, FaceTime-type communication and voice recognition. Then there’s also a gargantuan number of television stations (including an NFL RedZone-like octobox.) The big miss: Fax being the main form of communication.
20. Crispin Glover did not appear in the sequels, except in archival footage of him at the Enchantment Under The Dance. He was only a minor character in II, with a body-double appearing upside-down as a grandfather at a shot at the McFly house in Hilldale because he “threw his back out.” Then was found out to be murdered — you can do the armchair psychology there. Glover’s absence was over money and because, well, he’s Crispin Glover.
As Cassen Gaines describes in his book, We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back To The Future Trilogy — a must-read for die-hard fans — when Glover’s “double” first met Michael J. Fox, the actor said, “oh, Crispin ain’t gonna like this.” Still, even though it was completely legal to change roles (think of the awful Katie Holmes-Maggie Gyllenhaall switch in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films), Glover filed suit. It was settled out of court for a whopping $500,000, as, according to Bob Gale, the insurance company decided it was cheaper to pay off Glover rather than risk any wackiness in open court.
21. Mark Campbell, who sung Johnny B. Goode in the first two films, went uncredited to give the appearance the Fox was actually singing, something that no one who saw the movie could have possibly thought. (He did receive a “special thanks” in the credit.) Fox did take guitar lessons, however, so his playing would look more realistic.
22. The Rotten Tomatoes scores for each part of the triology:
Back to the Future — 96%
Back to the Future II — 61%
Back to the Future III– 73%
BTTFII is always, and will always be, underrated.
23. Huey Lewis initially declined an offer to have a cameo as the judge who calls out Marty’s band, The Pinheads, for being “too darn loud.” But after some negotiating (he’d be in disguise, he couldn’t be used in promotional materials, he would go uncredited) he agreed and a great scene — another of rejection that was at the heart of the entire movie — was made even better. (In the clip below, Lewis is the one who picks up the bullhorn and speaks directly to the band.)
Power of Love, the Huey Lewis and The News song played throughout the movie, went to No. 1 and was nominated for an Oscar where it lost to Say You Say Me by Lionel Richie. C’mon now. I love me some Lionel but man, things can be strong and sudden and cruel sometimes.
24. From the time Marty meets up with Doc before the lightning strike (9:56 p.m.) to the time the lightning hits (10:04 p.m.), the real movie time was nine-and-a-half minutes which, if you’ve ever watched moves in which a bomb is set to go off in five minutes and then blows up 16 actual minutes later — that’s pretty great editing.
25. This one never made sense to me: Once he’s in the DeLorean in the final scene of the original, Marty decides he needs more time in 1985 to warn Doc about the Libyans. “Ten minutes oughta do,” he says out loud to nobody and changes the time circuits from 1:35 a.m. to 1:24. a.m (yes, it’s a continuity error — he changed it 11 minutes). But even if the car had been working and Marty didn’t have to sprint to the mall, the Libyans still passed him in their van immediately after he tried to start the DeLorean. Ten minutes clearly wouldn’t have been enough time. And Marty had “all the time in the world” as he said! Just go back 45 minutes earlier, dude! Maybe catch a movie at the X-rated theater or something.
26. The classic easter-egg shot in BTTF2 is of Marty looking in a store that sells ’80s products.
Some of the items inside: Marty’s old denim jacket, Perrier, an iron, some Nintendo games, a talking Who Framed Roger Rabbit? doll (Robert Zemeckis directed that in between the first and second film), a 1984 Apple Macintosh, various Jaws films, the same kind of JVC video camera Marty and Doc use in BTTF, a frisbee, a Ronald Reagan LP and a quaint little piece from the ’80s, a Dustbuster. The film really did nail the 80s nostalgia, I’ll say that.
27. When Marty and Doc are talking to the train conductor in 1885 about how fast a locomotive could go, you can see the clock from the clock tower being unloaded in the background.
28. In BTTF2, Doc is wearing a shirt with train designs all over it.
In BTTF3 he is using that same shirt as a balaclava when he and Marty “steal” the train.
29. Back to the Future is the slowest film to ever reach $200 million at the box office, taking 232 days, two weeks longer than My Big Fat Greek Wedding 17 years later. Overall, the film made $210 million, the No. 1 movie of 1985. Adjusted for inflation, Box Office Mojo says BTTF would have made $492 million in today’s dollars, making it the 62nd-highest grossing movie of all time. What’s sad is that’s more than $150 million less than Jurassic World, a movie instantly forgotten the second you walked out of the theater. BTTF is rated No. 47 on IMDB’s list of greatest movies, however.
30. The “To Be Continued…” title card that ends the original Back to the Future wasn’t seen in theaters. It was only added for home video release after the actors were locked in for two sequels.