Two weeks ago, the Monday Matinee took a look at “Back to the Future”, a film in which a teenager goes back in time to the year 1955, to try his best to reunite his parents before he ceases to exist.
One week ago, the Monday Matinee took a look at “Back to the Future: Part II”, a film in which that same teenager goes forward in time to the year 2015, where he tries to save his future children from getting involved in serious criminal activity, while trying to restore the past timeline that an enemy of the family has screwed up.
We may as well conclude the last Monday Matinee in May with the final piece of the puzzle...the trilogy that changed how the world looked at time travel forever.
“Back To The Future: Part III” was the last film of the series, and here's an interesting piece of trivia for all of you. Did you know that “Back To The Future: Part III” was filmed just a couple of weeks after production wrapped on the second film? Poor Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd must have been absolutely exhausted!
All that work seemed to pay off. The film was released on May 25, 1990 – almost exactly six months after the second film was released – and it garnered more positive praise than the second film. It's still not as good as the original film as far as this blogger is concerned, but on its own, it's a good standalone film, and it wraps up the series quite nicely.
All right, so to kick off the third film, we start at the same exact spot where the second film left off. When the film left off, Marty destroyed the sports almanac he purchased in 2015 that caused all the trouble in the second film, and he had successfully restored the 1955 Hill Valley and the 1985 Hill Valley back to the timeline that was established in the first movie.
Confused yet? I'll try to clarify.
Marty and Doc are initially celebrating the fact that once again, they have saved the past, present, and future of Hill Valley, and are preparing to hop back in the DeLorean time machine back to 1985 Hill Valley. Unfortunately, the weather in Hill Valley 1955 is not very good on this particular day, and when lightning strikes the DeLorean, Doc ends up disappearing with the DeLorean, leaving Marty stuck in 1955. At first, all seems lost, until a courier delivers Marty a telegram to Marty that had the date of 1885 stamped on it. The telegram is from Doc, who reveals that he has become trapped in the year 1885 and that he needs help.
At first, Marty is confused over what he should do, and who he can get to help him. But then he remembers that 1955 Doc is still in Hill Valley at this time, and when he meets up with him, the two of them use the information within the telegram to locate and restore the DeLorean so they could go to 1885 to rescue 1985 Doc.
Again, I ask...are we confused yet?
Anyway, the quest to go back in time to 1885 is kicked up a notch when Marty happens to discover a shocking fact in Hill Valley's cemetery...a tombstone with Doc's name that has an end-date that is six days after the telegram that Doc sent. Further research showed that Doc was murdered by Biff Tannen's great-grandfather Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson). Time is of the essence, as Marty travels back in time to 1885 to try and save Doc from his doom.
The date that Marty arrives in is September 2, 1885, a time in which Hill Valley, California is a town that one might see in the Old West. It also happens to be a time in which the United States Cavalry is in pursuit of the Indians, adding to the danger aspect.
In fact, almost immediately after arriving in 1885, the fuel line is damaged, and Marty is forced to park the car in a nearby cave and walk the rest of the way to Hill Valley. Now, this does lead to some interesting encounters. Marty ends up meeting his own great-grandparents, Seamus and Maggie McFly (played by Fox and Lea Thompson). As well, he also meets up with Buford and his cronies, which almost ends with Marty getting himself hanged! Luckily, Doc manages to save Marty from Buford, and he agrees with Marty that maybe it would be a good thing if Doc came back to 1985 with Marty after all.
But, how would they manage to do that with a DeLorean that has no gasoline? It's not as if there are any convenient Texaco stations in 1885 Hill Valley, and even if Doc and Marty got the entire population of Hill Valley to push the DeLorean, it still wouldn't reach the 88 miles per hour required to propel them an entire century into the future. They were basically cowboys without a horse.
Doc comes up with an idea to use a locomotive to push the DeLorean to the speed needed to get back home, and when Marty and Doc do some scientific investigation, they find themselves saving the life of a woman named Clara Clayton (Mary Steenburgen), whose horse-drawn carriage goes out of control. And, it is this situation that causes Doc Brown to develop a love interest for the first time in the entire trilogy!
It's just a shame that the romantic encounter had to wait until the last film of the series, but hey...better late than never, right?
Now, without revealing how the trilogy ends too much, I'll reveal some cryptic clues that will not spoil it for those of you who have not seen the last part of the Back To The Future trilogy. Those of you who have...well, you can just ignore it.
I can tell you that the fax that Marty's girlfriend snatched from 2015 Hill Valley plays a minor role in the third film's conclusion.
I can tell you that the love story between Clara and Doc does not exactly run smoothly through the last half of the film, but you will be ultimately satisfied by the way this love story is resolved.
I can tell you that Marty McFly is left in a situation where he has to fight against Buford and his goons...only this time, he takes what he has learned in that battle to help fix future events.
And, on that note, I can also tell you the following pieces of trivia that are associated with the making of this film. Would you like to hear some of them? I bet you do.
01 – The DeLorean that was used for the filming of the third film was suspended from the ceiling of the Planet Hollywood location in Honolulu, Hawaii for many years.
02 – If you have a keen eye for detail, you might notice that in 1885, the Hill Valley newspaper editor is a man by the name of M.R. Gale. This is a hidden joke, as M.R. Gale refers to the screenwriter of the trilogy, Michael Robert Gale (credited as Bob Gale).
03 – Everyone knows that the catchphrases that Marty and Doc speak throughout the trilogy are “Yeah, this is heavy”, and “Great Scott” respectively. In this film, the two characters say each other's catchphrases!
04 – Mary Steenburgen was the producer's only choice for the role of Clara, but Steenburgen was reluctant to make a commitment to the film. Her children – being huge fans of Back to the Future – convinced her to take the part.
05 – The town that acted as the setting for 1885 Hill Valley, California was destroyed by fire in 1996...ironically enough by a lightning strike!
06 – The film was the first one to use Universal's 75th anniversary logo.
07 – The film has several references to Clint Eastwood (which made sense, since Clint Eastwood starred in several films set in the Old West). When he was asked by the producers of the film to use his name in some of the film's dialogue, he wasted no time in granting it, stating that he was flattered to have his name mentioned in the film.
08 – There's a scene in the third film where Marty McFly narrowly escapes being lynched by Buford Tannen. What we didn't know was that during the film, Michael J. Fox got into a mishap and accidentally almost hanged himself! Luckily, he was saved, but he was knocked unconscious for a few minutes.
09 – The role of Mayor Hubert was originally planned for former President Ronald Reagan, but Reagan turned it down. The part went to Hugh Gillin instead.
10 – Michael J. Fox had to take time out of filming for several weeks due to the death of his father, as well as the birth of his son, Sam.
11 – ZZ Top played the town band in the film, and during a take, one of the cameras broke. While the camera was being fixed, Fox requested a song, which the band played. This prompted other crew members to give the band requests as well, which turned into a near two-hour concert. Amusingly, Robert Zemeckis kept a secret...the camera had been fixed within the first half hour, but he stayed silent, as people were enjoying the concert too much for him to step in and shut it down!
12 – The steam locomotive used in the film was actually a model that was released in 1896...eleven years after the film was set. To camouflage this, the train was repainted to make it look like an 1885 model.
13 – Thomas F. Wilson performed his own horse riding stunts in the movie, as well as doing the lasso trick at the beginning of the 1885 scenes.
14 – In all three films, Marty McFly is knocked out cold, and when he comes to, Lea Thompson's character is always present.
15 – Look closely at the embroidery on Marty's western outfit. Doesn't it look like the symbol for atomic energy to you?
16 – In the movie, Christopher Lloyd shares an on-screen kiss with Mary Steenburgen...the ONLY ONE HE HAS EVER HAD THROUGH HIS ENTIRE CAREER!!!
17 – Seamus McFly was originally supposed to be played by Crispin Glover...but he chose not to come back to film the two sequels.
18 – In all three films, Thomas F. Wilson's character always ends up covered in manure. I wonder if he got a bonus for agreeing to that condition?
And, that concludes our look back on the Back to the Future trilogy. Hope you enjoyed the trip back through time over the last three weeks. And, remember. The future can only be controlled by what you do while you're living in the present...and as much as you might want to, you can't change the past.