Film Fridays is a project initiated by Sarah and I. After doing a daily music challenge for a month last year we talked about doing something similar for movies. The current global lockdowns give us the perfect excuse to start. Many of us are confined to home with only the TV for company so we thought we would start ‘Film Fridays’ so that we can talk about our favourite movies and hopefully give our readers some ideas for things to watch. If you join us please tag filmfriday and link back to one or both of us so we can read your own contributions!
We would be delighted if you would join us! We don’t necessarily want to talk about the nerdy technical details but more about why these films speak to us as individuals, why they have a place in out hearts, and any personal memories they evoke.
Sarah and I have shared our lists and decided to tackle them as written – in my case in alphabetical order because I am sad like that….
‘Back to the Future’
The trailer is on Youtube at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvsgGtivCgs
A bit of fun after last weeks great-but-gruelling movie!
For those who have not seen it, this 1985 movie follows young Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) as he is accidentally transported 30 years into the past by a time machine built out of a DeLorean car by his friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). An encounter with his mother as a teenager puts in jeopardy her romance with George McFly and ultimately Marty’s own existence. With the assistance of a younger Doc Brown Marty tries to undo this mistake whilst working out how to return to 1985.
1985 falls bang in the middle of my movie golden era. As such I vividly recall watching this at the cinema and loving it. Directed by Robert Zemeckis it nevertheless has a touch of the magic that executive producer Steven Spielberg brought to everything he touched at that time.
I guess being around the same age as protagonist Marty McFly at the time helped me appreciate it more but only a little. I still think it is a great film.
A large part of its appeal is down to the genius casting. Fox was well known to TV viewers from ‘Family Ties’ and was first choice for the role but was initially unavailable because of scheduled filming for that series. Some weeks of filming was done with Eric Stoltz playing Marty but it did not work out. By this time an agreement had been reached to make Fox available and he took over. The re-shoot cost millions of dollars but turned out to be well worth it.
Christopher Lloyd, amazingly, was not first choice for the role (John Lithgow was offered it first). He was very well known to audiences from TV shows like ‘Taxi’, and from movies like ‘One flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’.
Apparently the chemistry between the two leads was awkward initially. It is hard to see that from the finished movie, as that chemistry is one of the things that makes this movie such fun. Fox’s easy charm is perfect for Marty, whereas Lloyd pitches his usual ‘crazy but lovable’ performance just right.
What this means of course, is that the viewer becomes invested in the characters and there is a genuine concern when the story does not go their way.
Credit should also go to Lea Thompson who portrays both young and older Lorraine McFly. The ‘romantic’ scenes between young Lorraine and Marty manage to avoid any creepiness quite adeptly.
The baddie is school bully Biff Tannen (Thomas F Wilson). An imposing and convincing bad guy, Wilson went on to play variations of the role in the sequels. In Part Two He portrays Tannen as a vulgar billionaire who got rich by cheating and bullying. Writer Bob Gale has confirmed the character was based on Donald Trump….
The choice of the De Lorean for the time machine was a great one. It was chosen because its futuristic look meant that it could look genuinely like a flying saucer to the bemused farmers in 1955. It is now impossible to see a De Lorean without thinking of this movie.
The concert scene at the end, where Marty plays “Johnny Be Good” is perhaps questionable culturally but is interesting as, though it was mimed, Fox (already a good guitarist) learned to play the song and has since performed it for real. Despite his Parkinsons he appeared on stage with Coldplay to play this (and Earth Angel) in 2016 . Footage is on youtube if you search for it.
The success of Back to the Future led to a sequel being immediately planned. The ending of part one immediately suggesting a direction for it. Eventually, parts Two and Three were filmed back-to-back to be as cost-effective as possible and to ease scheduling. It also avoided a recurrence of the events that led to the roles of both Marty’s girlfriend and father having to be re-cast after the first movie. (The second one starts with a shot-by-shot perfect reconstruction of the ending of part one, but with Elizabeth Shue replacing Claudia Wells as Jennifer. Given that she spends most of the second movie unconscious it is hard to see why they bothered!)
Part Two is set in the future, and Part Three is set in the old West. Of the two I much prefer Part Three. This is partly due to Mary Steenburgen…
But both sequels are actually good movies and complete a rare perfect trilogy.