Film I LOVE That Scene

I LOVE That Scene: Back to the Future

What is I LOVE That Scene?  It is a regular feature on our website in which we detail one single film scene we adore.  Typically, the scenes we discuss are those that force us to involuntarily exclaim “I LOVE That Scene!” when they are brought up in conversation, thus the name.  It is our intention to turn readers onto films through exposure to single scenes.  As such, any spoilers will be clearly indicated. 

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THE FILM: Back to the Future (1985)

THE PLOT: Come on! Really? I need to give you guys the plot?! Fine. (Disappointed sigh.) Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) accidentally travels back to the year 1955 (Curse you, Libyan terrorists!) and nearly erases himseslf from existence while he’s there. He must work to ensure that his parents actually get together, marry, and produce him (and his brother and sister, but mainly him) as an offspring. The movie deals with time travel in the same way Peter Pan deals with air travel, but is remembered more for its cleverly written dialogue, appealing cast (beyond Fox, an adorable Lea Thompson, and Crispin Glover [before he went insane], and a possibly insane Christopher Lloyd– nah, only kidding. Christopher Lloyd is awesome), and its emotionally satisfying conclusion. If you think about the time travel logistics (How will Marty even begin to function with a family who no longer resembles the one he left behind? Would he and his siblings still have posed for that photo in the exact spot, with the exact same clothes? Was Chuck Berry ever sued for stealing that song that played at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance?), you’ll develop nothing but a massive headache. More importantly, you will miss the real charm at the heart of the film.

 (FOR EVERYTHING BELOW: SPOILERS BELOW. READ ARE YOUR OWN RISK.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.) 

THE CONTEXT OF THE SCENE: There is one major scene that never fails to make smile when I watch it, and it involves Marty’s teenage father, George (Crispin Glover) and Biff (Thomas F. Wilson), the vicious bully who functions as the film’s antagonist. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s the moment when George punches Biff. Well, wipe that smug grin off your face, because you are wrong. You’re close, but the moment I’m talking about is a small but crucial moment that happens a little bit earlier. Marty and George have a plan to ensure Lorraine (Lea Thompson as Marty’s mother- I promise this is waaaay less creepy in context) and George will live happily ever after. Marty will take Lorraine to the dance and make a pass at her. She will become offended, George will arrive on the scene, save the day, and Lorraine and George will finish the dance in each other’s arms. However, things do not go according to plan.

First, Lorraine is completely fine with Marty making a pass at her. She kisses him, but then states that kissing him was like kissing “her brother,” which makes sense since she just unwittingly made out with her future teenage son (Again, waaay less creepy than it sounds). However, Biff, the aggressive presence who has made both George’s teenage and adult life miserable, rips Marty out of car, has his gang lock him in a nearby car trunk, and proceeds to assault Lorraine (a crime that really doesn’t seem to be punished in the film as, at the end of the movie, Biff is just an auto dealer with pretty open access to the McFly family. Isn’t Lorraine just living in fear that some Straw Dogs-esque nightmare scenario is about to unfold every time he’s around? Probably best to leave that question for another day.).

"I'm sorry. Who is going to be waxing our cars?! My attempted racist from highschool?! Well, the royalties from your first novel better pay for the trauma counseling I'll be needing."
“I’m sorry. Who is going to be waxing our cars?! Well, the royalties from your first novel better pay for the trauma counseling I’ll be needing.”

Meanwhile, George is dutifully waiting for the scheduled time he is supposed to arrive on the scene as Lorriane’s “knight in shining armor.” Finally, the time approaches, he goes outside, finds Marty’s car, opens the door, and proceeds to utter his rehearsed line, “Hey you, get your damn hands off her.” Unfortunately, he doesn’t even get to finish the line before the man in the car is revealed to be Biff, who warns George that he should probably just walk away. For obvious reasons, Lorraine begs George to help her, to which George responds by uttering a line which causes an involuntary smile to form upon my face every time I hear it: “No Biff! You leave her alone.”

More than the triumphant knock-out punch George is about to land on Biff’s face, this simple line shows that George is not the same weak-willed individual we have seen throughout the film. The punch comes when he is under an extreme threat. After all, Biff has just tried to break his arm. However, that threat would not even exist if he hadn’t used this line to finally stand up to him. The viewer sees right then that Marty has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams in turning George into a more assertive, courageous individual. The punch is more traditionally rousing, but it is almost irrelevant. “No Biff. You leave her alone” is the true point of departure between the meek, cowardly, socially awkward father Marty left behind and the suave, cooler, wealthier, science fiction novelist father he has helped create.

THE SCENE:

The Back to the Future Trilogy is available to buy on DVD or Blu-ray, and can be rented through amazon instant streaming or vudu.com. If you didn’t grow up watching this movie as a kid (or seeing it as an adult when it first came out), first of all, what is wrong with you? Go right now and rent it or buy it, or, actually, I honestly don’t care how you see it. Just go and watch it now.

Do you have a favorite scene from Back to the Future, which is different from the one above?  Or do you also love the scene we’ve highlighted?Do you have another scene from a different movie you feel we should cover?  Peeved that we gave away so many spoilers above?  Let us know in the comments.

2 comments

  1. Well, again you managed to single out my favorite scene as well. It is indeed a transitional point for George but not just in terms of how he responds to Biff. He’s also putting a human life to the top of his priorities. Throughout the film, Marty has to convince him to go for Lorraine but in that moment he makes the choice to do so himself. It’s not a set-up to show courage and love, it is an act of courage and love. Standing up and fighting for someone you care about doesn’t require fists but it does require courage and resolve and it’s when George becomes not just a new man but a heroic one at that.

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