One of the best teachers I ever had was Tom Kmetzo from whom I took several courses at Mattatuck Community College, Waterbury CT (now Naugatuck Valley Community Technical College), including Creative Writing in the Fall of ’78 in which I helped my friend Mike with his project, Mr. Bill Goes to Waterbury. Mr. Bill was a clay clown-like guy from Saturday Night Live who invariably got smashed in the skits. So we made a Mr. Bill & took him to visit to Holy Land USA, the Carrie Welton Horse Fountain, and the Silas Bronson Library’s Ben Franklin Statue. His final destination was to be the Union Station Clock Tower from which he’d rappel, slip & get flattened like a Play-Doh pancake. Approval to go up to the 318 steps to the observation deck of the 240’ landmark was challenging. 7 months earlier, it had been added to the National Registry of Historic Places with whom we had to fill out an application. Then 6 weeks after that, on 11/5/78, we received this letter [“‘Save the Clock Tower’ flyer], ‘This is it! This is the answer. It says here that we can go up the clock tower at precisely 10:04 a.m. next Saturday morning! If…If we could somehow…harness this twine…to Mr. Bill…it just might work. Next Saturday morning, we’re sending Mr. Bill off the Clock Tower! [pointing up]’”. But Security forgot we were up there and the “heavy” door closed & locked behind us, leaving us out in the cold high above the city. Like 2 idiots, we shouted to the bug-sized people on Meadow Street who couldn’t hear a thing we were saying. Some of them waved to us & smiled though, which was nice. After about an hour of futility, I decided to try the old ‘slide your Sears Card inside the lock latch’ trick & it worked.
But enough with the silly college stories. It’s time to get Back to the Future & today’s Classic Blog from the summer of ’85, directed by Robert Zemeckis & starring Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, Crispin Glover as his father George, and Christopher Lloyd as the wacky scientist, Doc Brown. Despite their huge age difference, Marty & the Doc are good friends. When fate & Doc’s DeLorean Time Machine land Marty in 1955, Doc has to get him Back to Future before Marty interacts with his future parents & potentially impacts his & family’s future history. 2 more key roles are Lea Thompson as Marty’s Mom, Lorraine, and Thomas F. Wilson as the bully, Biff.
Back to Future, the top grossing film of the year, was also critically acclaimed, receiving the Best Sound Effects Oscar at the 58th Academy Awards. In addition, it was nominated for Original Screenplay (Zemeckis & Bob Dale), Sound, and Best Original Song for Huey Lewis & the News’ performance of The Power of Love. The soundtrack also includes the band’s Back in Time, and Huey himself appears in the film in an uncredited cameo as one of the Hill Valley High School student band audition judges.
Back to the Future is a time travel film. In the Spring, I taught a course for UConn Waterbury’s OLLI Program on ways directors use time to engage audiences. Some other examples are: Repeating (Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day); reversing (Christopher Nolan’s Memento); expanding (Christopher Nolan’s Inception); real (Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men); abridging (Stephen Daldry’s The Hours); and distorting (Adriane Lyne’s Jacob’s Ladder). If you can think of any others, add a Comment & tell us about them. In the meantime, watch the trailer embedded below then add Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future to your Netflix Queue and, when it arrives, jump in your DeLorean Time Machine and Save the Clock Tower!! 4 Stars!