With the passing of the 30th anniversary of the first Back to the Future, The Hollywood Gauntlet hosts analyze this timeless sci-fi trilogy.
Publish Date: Dec 30, 2020
so interesting that these characters, this screenplay, that just about every studio rejected back in 1980 81 when Gallons America's for first presenting it around. And they have an interesting history when you go back to their partnership back to the USC film school and the films that they worked on together. They're both as writer and director and his collaborators and as filmmakers, the lift and field of honor, which I think later caught Spilborghs I and they really got in really quick because they had a SYRIZA screenplays that caught the eye. None of the Spielberg. But I guess I've also of John Milius because they made I wanna Hold Your Hand. Spielberg produced that that was one of the earlier films that he got behind as producer. And although it wasn't very successful, obviously Spielberg Amelia's both like them because they both produced used cars. Their next movie, the follow up with Kurt Russell and then, in between that they had written a script called 1941 that Spielberg suddenly decided he wanted to direct. And this is a sad thing because I think I wanna hold your hand is a very good first film. It's a fun film. It's got a lot of energy and it's very clever. And it has a lot of the same trademarks that you would expect from Zemeckis in Gales later. Project Get goddamn thing. Screenplay is tight. It's just they've gone over it with a fine tooth comb planting seeds earlier on that they're gonna pay off, and I think they just get better at it. Used cars and then eventually into the back to the Future screenplay. But after the financial unfortunate financial failures of both used cars and I Wanna Hold Your Hand, they were ready to go with back to the future with Spielberg. But it was sort of decided that maybe they need to sort of part ways Steven very early on. He was one of the first people I had read the screenplay, and he liked it very much, and he wanted to produce it like he did my previous films. But my previous two films were not successful, and I was concerned that if Steven had produced a third film that was a box office flop, then I would not be able to probably get a job anywhere as a director so I explained that to him, and he said, I think you're probably right And then many years went by, three to be exact. And then I was finally hired by Michael Douglas to do Romancing the Stone, which, fortunately, was a hit on. But then everybody wanted to do back to the future because Romancing the Stone was a hit movie. I thought it would only be appropriate to go back to the one guy who was the only person who had faith in it based on the material itself. And that was Stephen. So is America's had to go off on direct Romancing the Stone, which turned out to be a big hit. So then suddenly everybody wanted back to the future again and always like the fact that they got back to Spielberg, the Onley guy who was originally interested in the idea in the first place. What's remarkable is when you go back and you read the original first draft back to the future. The concept is there. It's laid out, but the script is completely different in many ways, from the finished film. The first thing that impressed me is in the opening scene, Marty McFly is bootlegging movies. He's making a bootleg copy of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and you can pan across a series of videotapes and there's Empire Strikes Back and some other movies of that time. But to be a boot Laker in 1980 81 on VHS, that's Ah, that's a wild that nobody hardly anybody had VHS is. And if they did, they were the pop up kind, the top loaders. So that's just an interesting spark of an idea of where they even saw Marty McFly I in 1980 how through rewriting they would eventually get to the movie that we all know and love. And it's a great lesson for any screenwriters and anyone that loves movies, and seeing how they develop is to see where they start, what they had the core idea. But it's the honing of it that made it really great, and they could have relied on that first draft script. You know, it probably turned out okay, but it wouldn't have been as good as what they were able to dio later on. And I think the fact that Spielberg liked it from the very beginning is telling way originally wrote the project for Columbia Pictures, who put it in the turnaround, and this was in the early eighties and the average teen film in the early eighties was very R rated, and they were sort of drinking, drugging sex comedies. And those were the films were making a lot of money. So most of the studios, when he went to set the film up, thought that the film was too soft because it didn't have a lot of edgy stuff in it. Except for Disney, who thought that because of the relationship with the son and the mother, it was too dirty. Thes are the guys that wrote used cars, right? We could take something squeaky clean like Kurt Russell and turn him into something very different from what we've seen seen him do before. I'm not so sure that would have played so well with Fox. But maybe maybe Stolz. If that that alternative timeline was actually was in play, maybe it would have worked with him, even with Stoltz. I don't think it would have worked in that that way, because, uh, the way Zemeckis described, and I know we talked about it when it comes to the marketing of it. And he said when the trailer first hit, it was marketed as a comedy, whereas he said he would have done it completely differently and he would have marketed as a science fiction film. But yeah, I mean, it's such a very different screenplay. I mean, you know, just the idea, even the visual look that they already had in mind for Marty, you know, wearing the silver Porsche jacket. And you know, the time machine was a chamber. It wasn't a car. Doc had a had a monkey named Schempp. I mean, all of this stuff was, you know, Biff Tannen was a cop that the towns, you know, bad cop. But it just, you know, it's such a completely different script in so many ways. Like like you said John, it's the groundwork. Is there for the same essential idea? But it's just done in such a different way that looking at it now compared to the finished result is just It's such a apples and oranges. And I did ask Zemeckis this. Do they believe, or do they think the fact that they had all this time to do rewrites was a good thing, and they both unanimously said Yes, absolutely, without those, you know, rejections and and other elements that go down the line, especially when they get green lead and, you know, having to change the climax from, um, atomic test site to the DeLorean racing down the street. I mean, it's all elements off, you know of luck in lots of ways and of, you know, at a point where you can say studio executives saying no to certain things actually did help. When does the DeLorean come in? The DeLorean came in. I'm going to say I think it was the third draft and this was this was still be before DeLorean motor Company went under because I had asked, uh, Bob and Bob about that as well. And they're they're like, No, this. This was all conceived before, you know, The glory in Motor Company collapsed and the FBI sting operation with John DeLorean and all of that. It was it was the car had this reputation of being this dream car and all this stuff. And Zemeckis it was a mix, his idea actually saying that, you know, hauling around a time chamber on the back of docks pickup truck just doesn't make sense. It would make better sense to have this thing being mobile, and they just looked and said, Well, look, there's the glory and it's gotten all this praise of being this new, you know, fascinating stainless steel car with gull wing doors. It looks like a UFO. It'll work perfectly for the gag when it crashes into the barn. So that's where the car came in. So it came on. Yeah, so around 81 82 is when the car got in. Their climax scene got changed already when they were already green lit in 85.