The Bonkers Stuff They Cut From 'Back to the Future's Original Plot
Back to the Future has a long history of trials, tribulations, and changes -- before Michael J Fox rocked out to Johnny B Goode, it was another actor whose name you wouldn't recognize because you were born after the Reagan era, and before it was the DeLorean, it was a fridge that was blown up by a nuke. This idea would later be realized by Back to the Future producer Steven Spielberg in the seminal classic, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, which we bet you had hoped to forget by now. Which should give you some idea of the quality of film Back to the Future originally was.
The script underwent changes major and minor -- you can look at the novelization to see all the minor changes, like the Vulcan scene being a lot longer, or the Biff car scene being even creepier.
All of those make at least some sense, and you can see their DNA in the film itself -- Doc Brown gets plutonium, the Vulcan scene is still there, the Biff car scene is still horrifying, but there's some stuff that just ended up not fitting in at all. Like the original opening sequence in which Marty pulled a Ferris Bueller meets McGyver situation to set off sprinklers and escape from detention ... to go like five feet away to the rehearsal in the gym. Or Doc Brown's chimpanzee.
Before Einstein, there was Shemp, who was only cut because monkeys don't make money, apparently and before becoming a tonally appropriate sci-fi writer, George McFly became a boxer in the future. Given the left hook he gives Biff at the end, this might actually fit a bit better.
That’s the punch of a writer!
Time travel also used to require a secret ingredient ... Coca-Cola (Not Tab or Pepsi Free?). Although given that Mr. Fusion eats garbage to power the DeLorean, we can't really say none of this idea made it into the film. Marty even discovers the secret to time travel by pouring some coke in one of Doc Brown's machines, helping him invent time travel altogether.
The wilder part of this is the fact that the world at large only found out about it after Jon Cryer started talking about an old script of the film that he read while auditioning for Marty, including an opening that had Marty playing his guitar while pirating a VHS.
Of course, that was cut for the very sensible reason of the studio refusing to make a movie where a video pirate is the hero. Although him being a video pirate gives him at least a bit of a connection to Doc Brown in that Doc lives above an old theater and helps him with his pirating equipment, which makes a bit more sense than Cool Rebel knows Old Grandpa for … some reason.
Meanwhile, the biggest change is the Clocktower. The original film ended with the giant fridge being blown up in a giant town that a nuke was dropped on, but when that had to be changed, the Clocktower ending was devised. From that point on, the Clocktower became the center of the film -- literally the center of the town, the inspiration for one of the defining early scenes of the film (check out that 4x4!), the way Doc Brown and Marty know how to leave, and the entire center of the climax, while being a completely tonally appropriate building for the time travel film to be based around.
As opposed to this.
Honestly, the more that comes out about the original drafts, the more the good film that ended up coming out seems like a happy accident than any planning. After all, the creators were the ones who wanted to have government agents MLK Jr. Doc Brown -- and who wanted to bring to theaters an entire commercial about the benefits of Coke.
Hey, maybe they'll bring some of this stuff back for the musical! Who doesn't wanna see a monkey on-stage?
Top Image: Universal Studios