I tried not to flip out when I got on the phone with Bob Gale last week, but I'll be honest, it was hard. The writer and producer was just a struggling comedy writer in the late 70s and early 80s before he visited his childhood home, happened upon his father's old yearbook, and concocted an idea for a screenplay about what it would be like if he knew his father in high school. He and Zemeckis put their heads together and came up with Back to the Future
, which remains not just one of the tightest and most thrilling screenplays ever written, but was the launching point for the two sequels, which made Back to the Future
one of cinema history's most beloved trilogies.
Gale remains an amazing source for Back to the Future
trivia, having chimed in on countless commentaries and Q&A sessions over the years, telling his stories from the set, his personal favorite moments and clearing up any number of rumors (though he loves as much as Zemeckis does to spread the urban legend about the "real hoverboards"
). Given the chance to talk to the creator of my favorite movie of all time, I had to pick and choose what to ask Gale, and wound up asking him about a lot of his own personal preferences-- his favorite of the trilogy, favorite underappreciated joke from the first film, what he enjoyed predicting about the future and why he still prefers the movie's practical effects as opposed to all the digital work done today. Check out highlights from our conversation below, and come back tomorrow for even more from the rest of the Back to the Future
cast and crew.
The joke in the movie he loves that nobody ever picks up on: Lorraine telling Marty, "I don't know what it is, but when I kiss you, it feels like I'm kissing my brother."
"You have to say to yourself, 'Wait a minute, what was Lorraine doing with her brother?' "
Why Mr. Fusion was included at the end of the first movie:
"Mr. Fusion wasn't written to solve a plutonium problem it was to say, 'Hey, he comes back from the future, and it's better.' And it's funny. You want to go to that future where things run on garbage. "
Why relatively little of Back to the Future Part II actually takes place in the future:
"Back to the Future
says you make your own destiny, the future is whatever you make it. How can we be concerned about Marty's kids, who don't even exist yet? We knew we could have fun in the future and riff on the movies in the future, but we also knew that dramatically we couldn't sustain a story about the possibly never-to-exist McFly children."
What future prediction Back to the Future Part II actually got wrong (beside the flying cars and hoverboards):
"What we probably got wrong is we got the future USA Today
newspaper, which is important [to the plot]. In 5 years, will we still have paper newspapers? I don't know!"
On whether or not the Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull "nuke the fridge" moment was inspired by the original ending for Back to the Future, which took place at a nuclear test site:
"I never had a conversation with Steven [Spielberg] about it, but it's hard to not think that, isn't it? Especially if you look at our storyboards on the DVD."
Why practical effects trump digital, even today:
"Overall optical effects hold up way better than I think digital effects will. When they look at some of the movies made today 10 or 15 years from now, I think audiences will look at it the way we look at some of the process stuff in the 50s and just cringe when we see it."
Why he can't pick a favorite between the three movies:
"All three are my favorite for three different reasons. The first is my favorite because it was first and it's original, and your firstborn is always special. But it's complete in itself. It's just really such a terrific movie. Part Two is my favorite because of all the crazy chances we take in it, and going back in the first movie and seeing it from a different point of view. That's so unique and so different-- you've never seen that before. And Part Three was really the most fun to make, and when I watch it it brings back all the fun memories I have. It's the best-looking of the three because we went on location-- the train, all that stuff. I grew up on Westerns as a kid, and there's a romantic aspect to that. It was fun because we were on location. A lot of times making a movie on location is more than when you're in town. If you go home at night, you still have to take out the garbage.
For all the details on the must-have Back to the Future Blu-Ray set, read our review here.