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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Happy Birthday ‘Airplane!’ and ‘Back to the Future’

posted by Nell Minow

Two movie classics celebrate big birthdays this week. “Back to the Future” turns 25 and “Airplane!” turns 30. Both helped to define their eras and stood the test of time as enduring favorites.

One of my favorite critics, Ali Arikan, has a superb tribute to “Back to the Future.”

Marty McFly has more in common with George Bailey [of “It’s a Wonderful Life”] than the film’s slightly cynical conclusion suggests. His adventure in the ’50s is literally based on self-preservation, but this is only derivative of his true goal. Recall the aforementioned scene at the dinner table, as Marty looks longingly, sadly, but lovingly at his parents, wondering where it all went wrong. The same look adorns his face just before he says goodbye to Doc, and the frequent times he runs into the younger selves of the townsfolk. Ostensibly selfish, his quest is, nonetheless, for the good of the community: personal success is just a welcome by-product. Back to the Future has a joyously optimistic view of the human race: it believes that, given the means, we would stand up to the physical laws that govern the universe (which Carl Sagan famously called “god”) just to make our loved ones happy. No wonder the film’s signature tune is called The Power of Love.

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Hard to believe, but we’re only five years away from the time Marty McFly visits in part 2, the one with the flying skateboards.

“Airplane!” was in some ways a throwback to some of the wilder comedy of the vaudeville era like “Hellzapoppin'” and its joke-a-minute structure was in part influenced by the television show “Rowen and Martin’s Laugh-In.” Coming just ten years after the Oscar-winning “Airport,” it seemed a brash, subversive, iconoclastic upending of just about everything ever taken seriously. It was a surprise success. Made for just $3.5 million, it earned 83 million in North America alone and is 10th on the American Film Institute’s list of the funniest movies of all time.

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  • http://www.examiner.com/x-9207-Baltimore-Movies-Examiner Tom Clocker – Baltimore Movie Examiner

    Nell,
    That is so weird. This is the second ‘Back to the Future’ news I read today (the other being something silly about the shoes he wore in the second film). But, the weird thing is I’m smack dab in the middle of Michael J. Fox’s biography, and I’m not searching for the news, just keep coming across it.
    Did you know he almost didn’t get the ‘Back to the Future’ role even though Spielberg requested him? The producers on ‘Family Ties’ withheld the script and message due to the current success of the show. After Spielberg decided to scrap all the footage already shot with the substitute actor, he begged for Fox. Finally the producers gave him the message and Michael worked 9-6 or so on the TV show and then all night until like 3am on ‘Back to the Future’ to make the deadlines. He kept this up for months! One time he was freaking out backstage before an entrance on ‘Family Ties’ because he didn’t have his Marty McFly vest on. That’s how exhausted he got.
    Amazing how he kept the show a hit and pulled off a terrific movie performance. He says he barely remembers shooting it!
    Remarkable!

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