Best Decade for Films – The 80s – Great Scott! – Part I

So, we are in 1985 a date which is directly linked with one, if not the best time travel film of all time. Back to the Future.

Around the middle of the 80s, denim was still a thing. After my fondness with my denim jacket and my fondness for the Six Million Dollar Man add the body warmer and you’ve got Marty Mcfly.

Strange fact is that I am the same age as Marty McFly, the character, not Michael J Fox, who was 7 years older than Marty. After watching Back to the Future Part 2 I was so worried about a fat receding hairline, grey hair and loss of the ability to play the guitar. Thankfully only one of those things occurred… plus I could never play the guitar, so that’s okay. I’m referring to the grey flecks, not the apparent need to wear a fake forehead.

Considered by many to be the perfect movie due to it’s universal appeal, easy to follow plot, great scenes throughout, brilliantly played characters, lots of action and tension with the big payoff at the end and possible sequel.

If you haven’t seen it, it concerns a 17 year old Marty Mcfly that accidentally gets sent back in time, disrupts the first meeting of his parents and has to come up with a plan with the younger version of his friend Doctor Emmett Brown to bring them back together and return back to the future. Hence the name.

It was a summer movie in America released on July 3rd 1985, directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis (l) and Bob Gale(r), and presented by Steven Spielberg like the previous years Gremlins.

In the first week of opening in July it hit number one in the US box office for that Independence Day weekend. Other notable films at the time included Clint Eastwood in Pal Rider at number 2, Cocoon at number 3, followed by Rambo II, The Goonies, Return to Oz and A View to a Kill the latest James Bond movie with Roger Moore, which was Roger’s last Bond Role.

If anyone is asking why Goonies wasn’t in my favourite 80s movies, I missed it at the cinema and when I eventually saw it, it just didn’t feel relevant to me. Sorry Goonies fans.

In the UK, we didn’t get it until December 4th 1985, so at least it stayed in the right year.

For me it was a cold December night and I headed out alone to see the movie. It was amazing. I related to the main character and having a weird old professor as a friend seemed cool, plus one subject I will always love is time travel. Since Doctor Who, George Pal’s Time Machine, Planet of the Apes, Time After Time, Time Bandits, The Terminator and The Philadelphia Experiment and a tonne more I love the idea of traveling through the fourth dimension to the past, future, alternative realities and the whole idea of What If!

One of my most favourite sequences from a film has to be from the 1960 George Pal, The Time Machine. It features animation, time-lapse photography and lots of George Pal effects. Plus the time machine itself designed my MGM Art Director Bill Ferrari is amazing work. If there is one couch I’d love in my living room with a spinning disk in the back, I’d have this one.

The time machine itself was featured in Gremlins from the previous year. Plus if you watch the sequence above in 1966 some of the guards were wearing very familiar costumes. The same outfits worn by the crew of C-57D on their way to Altair IV in Forbidden Planet from 1956, only four years before this film was made.

Anyway, back to the future… ehem. The night of the great storm, erm… the night I saw the movie it was my regular Blyth cinema, The Wallaw. Home to many a cinema visits over the years.

I started with a curiosity of the clocks in the Doc’s garage through to the apparrent death of the Doc!! Travelling back, meeting his mom, finding the Doc, getting his parents back together and after a tense literal edge of your seat sequence on the clock tower a cheer when Marty got back and a flying fricking Delorean. Woah! That’s heavy!

There are not many films I remember the exact feelings whilst watching any film at a cinema from that far back but I distinctly remember the butt clenching tension of Marty driving towards the wire with Doc struggling with the disconnected cable. That moment was a sharp intake of breath and was perfectly timed. Then those wires don’t reach, the slide down the cable, the cable snagged on trousers. Every single beat perfectly timed. That first ending is brilliant.

Brilliant. Absolutely perfect.

This scene topped off more if you’ve seen the subsequent movies and realise another Marty ends up coming from the end of town to make the Doc faint.

It’s been mentioned before that the Hill Valley set has been used in a few other movies. It was also the same location for Kingston Falls from Gremlins. The Hill Valley Square and town hall is known as Courthouse Square and is actually on the Universal Studios backlot. It was also used in another film, To Kill a Mockingbird from 1962 and as mentioned by one of my readers the Ghost Whisperer from 2005 to 2010 with Jennifer Love Hewitt. This also featured appearances by Biff Tannen himself, actor, Tom Wilson. I love connections.

Speaking of actors, this film also had the most amazing cast.

Let’s start with Doctor Emmett Brown played by Christopher Lloyd.

Up to this point Christopher Lloyd was the only actor in the film I was familiar with. I wasn’t familiar with Family Ties, as it wasn’t a big thing on TV in the UK. But Christopher Lloyd, oh boy, he was one of my favourite comedy actors.

During the early 80s, the UK’s BBC deemed it suitable to show a strange American half hour TV show with a diverse cast that would go on to do many things. Danny Devito, Tony Danza, Andy Kaufman, Carol Kane, Jeff Conaway, and Christopher Lloyd as the drug addled Reverend Jim.

It’s interesting to see what the Reverend Jim looks like before his drug problem. Featuring another famous face…. Tom Hanks.

Along with Andy Kaufman as Latka, Jim and Latka were the funniest things on TV. Danny Devito didn’t do so badly either.

Christopher Lloyd has a habit of creating off the wall goofballs, from Rev Jim, and Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, that guy from Clue, Uncle Fester from the Addams Family films, John Bigboote from Buckaroo Banzai and even killing Captain Kirk’s son in Star Trek III : The Search for Spock and he will always be remembered as the excellent and timeless Doc Brown.

I distinctly remember him appearing on the UK TV chat show Wogan with the most bizarre interview ever.

If you want to see the awkward interview check it out below from when they were promoting Back to the Future 3. He’s opened up a lot since this interview and seems less reticent.

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Looking at his iMDB profile he might be well known for a few main characters but as a character actor he’s brought many live action, cartoon and video game charactars to life across the multi media universe.

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000502/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gregory Pace/Shutterstock (10454909ac) Michael J Fox ‘Very Ralph’ film premiere, Arrivals, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA – 23 Oct 2019

As Family Ties was not as widely known in the UK we, or at least I, wasn’t really aware of Michael J Fox. I’d seem adverts for Teen Wolf, another of his films around that time, but I didn’t catch that until I rented it on video.

During his 80s films he tended to play younger characters than his own age and maintained that teen look for some years, in such films as The Secret of My Success (1987), Bright Lights Big City (1988) and still returning to teen Marty in Back to the Future Parts II and III even though by the end of the back to back filming of part III he was 28.

Turning 60 next year he’s still looks a lot younger than a lot of 60 year olds.

At age 29 in 1991 Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, and partly retired from acting in 2000. Though he has voiced characters like Stuart Little from 1999 and Disney’s Altlantis The Lost Empire. Since then he’s made numerous appearances in films and TV shows including Boston Legal, Scrubs, Rescue Me and Designated Survivor and has also to date written four books about his life experiences.

He is also the co-founder of the Michael J Fox Foundation as stated on their website to

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today.

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Thomas F. Wilson plays the bully Biff Tannen in all three of the BTTF films. From 1950’s Tannen, 80’s car detailing Tannen, to Western, Trump like and old Tannen.

As well as an all of that he’s been doing a lot of voice over work, films and lots of TV.

In his spare time he’s also got his Youtube channel where he will quite happily show you his painting skills and regularly pop in to sing a song whilst playing the guitar. Quite a talent.

A couple of my favourite songs are dealing with his experiences attending conventions and all of the same questions that are asked by fans about him, MJF and the BTTF trilogy.

Plus his Sci-fi convention. Great fun. Like and Subscribe.

I’m sure he doesn’t really mean it. 🙂

And yes, Biff Tannen from BTTF II was modelled on Trump.

There was a recent Reunited whilst during lockdown. Fun to see great things that can come out of this zombie invasion.

We will be Back in the Future with Part II of this film coming soon.

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