Saturday, June 8, 2019

Only now does it occur to me... BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III

Only now does it occur to me... that Robert Zemeckis, in his infinite wisdom, decided to include an oddly specific homage to the comedy BLIND DATE (1987) in his BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III (1990).  Since the average movie viewer today is more likely to have seen the concluding chapter of the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy than Blake Edwards' BLIND DATE, a film best described "as if Scorsese's AFTER HOURS slipped on a banana peel while Bruce Willis played a slide whistle," allow me to explain.

Early on in BACK TO THE FUTURE III, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), having traveled to 1885, is attempting to blend in at the local saloon

when Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) comes to harass him in a Biff-inspired scene which should seem quite familiar to fans of the series.

 After giving his name as "Clint Eastwood," Marty innocently refers to Buford as "Mad Dog," which induces his fury.

Commanding him to dance, Buford shoots at Marty's feet... and Marty proceeds to do the "moonwalk."

He then shouts "Whooo!" in the manner of Michael Jackson and kicks a full spittoon onto Mad Dog.

This leads to a chase sequence. End scene.

In BLIND DATE, Bruce Willis' character has been set up on the titular blind date with Kim Basinger,

which triggers a series of unlucky and harrowing events (he's fired from his job, has his car destroyed, and begins suffering a full psychotic break, for instance). Basinger is also being stalked by her ex, John Larroquette, who carelessly menaces and nearly kills Willis with his car. Later on, a worse-for-wear Willis encounters his new nemesis Larroquette and begins brawling with him.

 When Willis lays his hands on a mugger's gun,

he holds Larroquette at gunpoint and insists that he dance.

 When the dance is not to Willis' liking, he insists he moonwalk.

Larroquette proceeds to moonwalk. However, it was a insincere request, as Willis soon announces, "I hate that shit!" and begins firing at his feet.

Shortly thereafter, Willis is arrested, leading to the iconic "BLIND DATE mugshot" sequence.
And end scene.

Okay. So. There's little doubt that these scenes of comedic violence are interconnected, and the connection is so specific that I have to imagine Zemeckis intended for his scene to be an homage to BLIND DATE. Or, perhaps, he saw BLIND DATE, and though he tried to forget it––a feat many BLIND DATE viewers have attempted––he felt some ineffable connection between the moonwalk and being held at gunpoint and inserted it into his film via sheer BLIND DATE-osmosis. I wonder if this is something they discussed when Zemeckis directed Bruce Willis in DEATH BECOMES HER. Or if this led to the John Larroquette cameo in the Zemeckis-produced TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT.

Also, if we want to get really "out there," note that the poster/cover art for BLIND DATE bears an eerie similarity to 1988's ACTION JACKSON––a film that co-starred Thomas F. Wilson, a.k.a. "Biff/Buford Tannen" from the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy.

Only one thing seems clear: truly, all roads lead back to BLIND DATE, whether we like it or not.

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