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Back to the Future
Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Back to the Future Part III Back to the Future Part III
Screenplay by Bob Gale
Story by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Released May 25, 1990


Stranded in 1885, Doc sends a telegram to Marty in the future not to attempt a rescue...but things get more ways than one.


Read the story summary at Futurepedia


Notes from the Back to the Future chronology


This story takes place in November 1955, September 1885, and October 1985.


Didja Know?


Actress Mary Steenburgen plays the out-of-time Doc's love interest, Clara Clayton, in this film. She also played the love interest of an out-of-time time traveller in the 1979 film Time After Time. Steenburgen also appeared with Christopher Lloyd (Doc) in the 1978 film Goin' South, where Lloyd's character was also in love with her!


During the opening credits, ZZ Top is credited for the song "Double Back" (2 words), but in the closing credits it's spelled "Doubleback" (1 word). The official name of the song is "Doubleback".


In the audio commentary of Back to the Future Part II, during the teaser for Back to the Future Part III seen at the end of the film, Bob Gale remarks that Alan Silvestri's theme for Back to the Future Part III was inspired by the theme of the 1961 John Wayne western The Comancheros (music by Elmer Bernstein).  Back to the Future Part III theme  Comancheros theme


Characters appearing or mentioned in this story


Marty McFly

Doc Brown


Biff Tannen


Buford Tannen

Clara Clayton

William Sean McFly

Seamus McFly

Maggie McFly

Joe Statler (mentioned only)

A. Jones

Marshall James Strickland

Stinky Lomax (mentioned only, presumed deceased by hanging)













Hubert (mayor)


R. Nilson

Elmer H. Johnson

Marshal's deputy (unnamed)

Roger Strickland

Martin McFly (Seamus' brother, mentioned only, deceased)

Clara's father (mentioned only, unnamed)

Mr. Phipps

W.J. Chang (mentioned only)

barbwire salesman (unnamed)

Dave McFly

Linda McFly

Lorraine McFly

George McFly


Needles' gang

Durwood Bennington

Jules Brown

Verne Brown


Didja Notice?




The movie opens with a repeat of the final scene of Back to the Future Part II, where the second Marty in 1955 confronts 1955 Doc for help on the night of Saturday, November 12.


Doc's car in 1955 is the same one seen in Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II, a 1949 Packard Custom Eight Victoria.


Marty and Doc discuss Marty's return and the letter from Doc in 1885 on Sunday, November 13.


At 4:22 on the Blu-ray, there is a clock on Doc's mantel next to the photo of Albert Einstein that was not there in Back to the Future.


The mantel and fireplace tiling are a bit different than they were in Back to the Future. In fact, most of the furniture, lamps, decorations in Doc's house are different, but are generally roughly similar to what was seen before. Obviously, much of the set decoration pieces used 5 years earlier in 1984 for the filming of Back to the Future was not easily available when shooting this film in 1989. 


A copy of the Jan-Feb 1942 issue of Radio-Craft magazine is seen on an end table in Doc's house at 5:01 on the Blu-ray.


The TV show that comes on Doc's television at 5:04 on the Blu-ray is Howdy Doody, a U.S. children's program that ran on NBC from 1947-1960, hosted by Buffalo Bob Smith and the marionette Howdy Doody. Original episodes ran only Monday-Friday in 1955, so this must be a rerun airing since it is Sunday morning. The western-themed show's traditional opening preface of "Say kids, what time is it? It's Howdy Doody Time!" may be a nod to the fact that this movie will take place mostly in the Old West, with Marty going back in time to 1885 to rescue the stranded Doc.


At 7:03 on the Blu-ray, during the confrontation between Doc and Marty about Marty's return from 1985, Doc opens the door of his bathroom and the clock that he was hanging a week earlier when he fell and hit his head, giving him the vision of the flux capacitor, is seen.


The full text of Doc's Western Union letter to Marty:


Dear Marty,

If my calculations are correct, you will receive this letter immediately after you saw the DeLorean struck by lightning. First, let me assure you that I am alive and well. I've been living happily these past eight months in the year 1885. The lightning bolt that hit the DeLorean caused a jigowatt overload which scrambled the time circuits, activated the flux capacitor, and sent me back to 1885. The overload shorted out the time circuits and destroyed the flying circuits. Unfortunately, the car will never fly again.

I set myself up as a blacksmith as a front while I attempted to repair the damage to the time circuits. Unfortunately, this proved impossible because suitable replacement parts will not be invented until 1947. However, I've gotten quite adept at shoeing horses and fixing wagons.

I have buried the DeLorean in the abandoned Delgado Mine, adjacent to the old Boot Hill Cemetery, as shown on the enclosed map. Hopefully, it should remain undisturbed and preserved until you uncover it in 1955. Inside, you will find repair instructions. My 1955 counterpart should have no problem repairing it so that you can drive it back to the future. Once you have returned to 1985, destroy the time machine.

Do not — I repeat — do not attempt to come back here to get me. I am perfectly happy living in the fresh air and wide-open spaces, and I fear that unnecessary time travel only risks further disruption of the space-time continuum. And please take care of Einstein for me. I know that you will give him a good home. Remember to walk him twice a day, and that he only likes canned dog food. These are my wishes; please respect them and follow them.

And so Marty, I now say farewell and wish you Godspeed. You've been a good, kind, and loyal friend to me, and you've made a real difference in my life. I will always treasure our relationship and think on you with fond memories, warm feelings, and a special place in my heart.

Your friend in time,

"Doc" Emmett L. Brown.

September 1, 1885


The look of Doc's 1955 lab here is not particularly close to what was seen in Back to the Future


At 7:38 on the Blu-ray, Marty is seen toying with the mind reading device that Doc first tested out with him when they first met in Back to the Future. As with the other props, the device does not look quite the same here.
Mind reading device in Back to the Future. Mind reading device in Back to the Future Part III
Mind reading device in Back to the Future. Mind reading device in Back to the Future Part III.


1955 Doc seems to initially take it quite well that he'll end up as a blacksmith in the Old West. Recall that in Back to the Future Part II, after making the decision that the time machine must be destroyed, he remarks to Marty that he just regrets he'll never get to visit his favorite historical era, the Old West. He also mentions later in this film that when he was a boy, he wanted to be a cowboy.


Is anyone able to identify the origin of this picture that is pinned to the back of Doc's miniature model of downtown Hill Valley, seen at 8:27 on the Blu-ray? Almost looks like people riding a flying carpet with some kind of wooden bar across the front?

unidentified picture


At 8:48 on the Blu-ray, Marty finds the toy car in the wastebasket that Doc used to demonstrate how his plan to channel the lightning bolt into the DeLorean's flux capacitor would work, as originally seen in Back to the Future. The toy caught fire during the demonstration, so Doc naturally threw it away in the wastebasket. The wastebasket seen here does not match the one seen in the same location in Back to the Future.


    Doc's letter from 1885 asks Marty to take care of Einstein for him. When Doc reads it, he is confused at first and Marty has to explain that Einstein is the name of Doc's dog in 1985. It's quite possible that Doc was thinking of the dog's nameskae, great theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, if he were to still be alive in 1985 (he would have been 106 years old!). Doc would likely have had at least some minimal interaction with him during the work he did for the Manhattan Project, as related in "Looking for a Few Good Scientists".

    1955 Doc watched the video tape of the first time travel experiment that Marty brought back from 1985 in Back to the Future, so it seems like he should have known that Einstein is his future dog. However, we only see him watching the parts of the tape that talk about the flux capacitor and the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity needed to power it (a part of the tape in which the dog does not appear) and the approach of the Libyan terrorists, which has the dog barking, but referred to only by the pet name "Einie". If Doc had watched the beginning of the tape, he would have been introduced to Einstein the dog more properly. Why would Doc not watch that part of the tape? Possibly one could argue that Doc watched only the parts that would inform him about the flux capacitor that he needed to know to rig the DeLorean to work so Marty could be sent back to 1985 because he knew that "no one should know too much about their own future", a statement he makes later in the film.

    Doc's letter goes on to inform us that Einstein only likes canned dog food. Canned Kal Kan brand dog food was seen at the beginning of Back to the Future.


At 8:48 on the Blu-ray, Marty examines a chessboard setup that has wires rigged up to each piece. Copernicus is sitting in a chair on the opposite side of the board, so it's possible that Doc has been trying to invent a way to play chess against his dog!


Doc's letter informs his 1955 self and Marty that he has buried the damaged time machine in the old Delgado Mine adjacent to the old Boot Hill cemetery. These are fictitious places, of course, but "Boot Hill" was a name used for a number of cemeteries in the Old West, referring usually to cemeteries for gunfighters and the like, those who "died with their boots on", i.e. violently.


When Doc reassures Marty that there are worse places to be than the Old West, like the Dark Ages, where he would "probably have been burned at the stake as a heretic." The Dark Ages traditionally refers to the European Middle Ages, about 400-900 AD, a period of relatively high superstition and lack of cultural output. Surprisingly, Doc seems to be forgetting the fact that the DeLorean time machine can only take someone to a different place in time, not location, so if he'd been stuck in the Dark Ages, it would still have been in California near the future location of Hill Valley, where only Native American Indians lived at the time. While Doc may have had some problems with his new neighbors, it wouldn't really be of the European Dark Ages variety.


The novelization reveals that Doc and Marty's entrance into the Delgado Mine takes place the next day, on Monday, November 14.


At 10:46 on the Blu-ray, notice that Marty is wearing the same 1955 clothes he wore on the day of the skateboard chase when Biff's car got buried in manure.


When Doc blows open the entrance of the old Delgado Mine at 10:34 on the Blu-ray, a gravestone visible on the left of screen reads, "Rest in Peace, Our Sweet Child, Rebecca Anne, Died May 7, 1892, Aged 5(?) Mos."


    Doc tell Marty that when he was 12 years old he spent weeks preparing an expedition to dig to the center of the Earth after reading his favorite author, Jules Verne. Verne (1828-1905) was a French writer who wrote the 1864 novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, about a scientific expedition that attempts to reach the center of the Earth through a volcanic tube.

    Doc goes on to say that he first read Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea when he was 11 and he knew then that he must devote his life to science. 


At 12:02 on the Blu-ray, notice that Einstein is wearing a headlamp in the mine as well!


Doc gets excited when he sees that his future self, stuck in 1885, marked the barricaded side tunnel of the mine where he hid the DeLorean with his initials (ELB) just like in Journey to the Center of the Earth. In that novel, the character of Arne Saknussemm carves his initials into rock to guide future explorers. In DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown's Owners' Workshop Manual, Doc writes in his journal in 1885 that he was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's 1883 novel Treasure Island, though he also acknowledges the aforementioned Journey to the Center of the Earth.


Doc remarks that the blown microchip in the time circuits has "made in Japan" printed on it, also saying, "No wonder this circuit failed." In the 1950s, Japanese products were generally considered "junk" in the U.S. It wasn't until the 1970s-80s that Japan began to be known for outstanding technology products.


Doc has rented a tow truck (1948 Ford F-3 with CA license plate S36928) in order to haul the DeLorean back to his lab. Is this also how they got the DeLorean to his lab without being seen in Back to the Future?


At 13:29 on the Blu-ray, a gravestone for the Slone family is seen, Thomas, Sarah, and James.


Copernicus doesn't return to the vehicles when called and is instead heard whining where he's poised himself at a gravestone. When Marty goes to get him, he sees that the gravestone belongs to Doc himself, "shot in the back by Buford Tannen over a matter of 80 dollars" on September 7, 1885. But how did Copernicus know it was Doc's grave? Did Doc teach him to read?? I can't imagine there would be any remnant of Doc's specific scent emitting from the ground of the grave after 70 years.


The old photo of the William McFly family found in the town archives has two Michael J. Foxs and two Lea Thompsons in it.

William McFly family


Doc Brown tells Marty that his family came to the United States from Germany in 1908 when they were the Von Brauns. Doc's father changed their name to "Brown" during the first world war. WWI was fought 1914-1918. Those of German descent were often not popular during the war, as Germany was the central power against which the United States and its allies were fighting in Europe.


The novelization reveals that Doc and Marty did their research into 1885 Hill Valley at the City Archives in the basement of Hill Valley City Hall. A friend of Doc's named Charlie was the night watchman there and he let them in after hours since it was closed by the time Doc and Marty towed the DeLorean to Doc's lab.


The novelization reveals that Doc and Marty go to the Pohatchee Drive-In Theater on Wednesday, November 16 to send Marty back in time to 1885. The Pohatchee Drive-In is a fictitious theater and the novelization reveals that "Pohatchee" refers to the Native American Indian tribe that lived in the Hill Valley area of 1885; this is a fictitious tribe. The scenes here were shot in Monument Valley, Utah, on the Navajo Indian Reservation.


The drive-in is seen in a very desert area, telling us that Hill Valley is close to a desert.


    At 15:55 on the Blu-ray, the DeLorean now as white sidewall tires on it to replace the old ones that had rotted away in the mine over 70 years.

    In the background, the drive-in's snack stand window has a "Coming Soon" poster taped in it for the 1955 film, Cult of the Cobra.

    An exterior wall of the snack stand has posters showcasing "Our Next Heap Big Show". The posters are for the 1955 films Revenge of the Creature (a sequel to The Creature From the Black Lagoon) and Tarantula! It's odd that these two films are paired as a double feature here, as, in reality, Revenge of the Creature was often paired with the aforementioned Cult of the Cobra during 1955. Also, Tarantula! was not released nationwide until December 23 of that year, which would make Pohatchee Drive-In's next double feature over a month away! The real reason for pairing these posters together, hanging next to the men's restroom, is that both had actor Clint Eastwood in small roles, at the beginning of his film and television career. Marty will use the alias of "Clint Eastwood" while he is in 1885.

    At 16:24 on the Blu-ray, the drive-in marquee shows the current shows are Francis in the Navy (again featuring Clint Eastwood in an early, small role), Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki, and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy. These are all 1955 releases and all are sequels, as is, of course, Back to the Future Part III!


The men's restroom at the Pohatchee Drive-In is designated as "BRAVES". Presumably, the women's restroom would be designated "SQUAWS".


A billboard advertising Statler Studebaker is seen by the road outside the drive-in. Another, lower set billboard for the Bluebird Motel is seen behind it. Bluebird Motel is seen in 1955 downtown Hill Valley in the first two films.


    Doc's choice of cowboy costume for Marty seems to have been inspired by the "singing cowboy" features of the 1930s-40s made by such actors as Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Tex Ritter. The novelization even confirms (on page 96) that Doc was inspired by his viewing of Roy Rogers matinees when he was a teenager, not having done any further research into the subject.

    Notice also that Marty's cowboy shirt has designs on the breast and forearm sleeves that look like the symbol for an atom. Maybe they influenced Doc to purchase that particular shirt!


At 16:24 on the Blu-ray, a billboard advertising Pepsi-Cola is seen in the background.


At 16:36 on the Blu-ray, the shadow of a boom mic or something is seen moving around in the lower left corner of the screen.


    Doc tells Marty they have to launch the time machine from this remote location because they don't know where there might be trees, etc. in the path of the arriving DeLorean. "So you'll have plenty of run out space when you arrive. Remember, where you're going, there are no roads." Doc has unknowingly paraphrased his own self in the future when he is about to take Marty and Jennifer from 1985 to 2015 in Back to the Future Part II, where he says, "Where we're going, we don't need roads."

    The novelization reveals that the drive-in was a 40-minute drive from Hill Valley. So that's probably pretty much an all day walk back to town for Marty when he arrives in 1885!


Marty is sent to Wednesday, September 2, 1885 in his mission to rescue the stranded Doc. September 2 did actually land on a Wednesday in 1885.


At 18:07 on the Blu-ray, we can see that Doc and Marty stole the photo of "Doc Around the Clock" from the Hill Valley archives! It's not a copy because it's mounted on the black backing board and still has the archival reference number on it.

Doc around the clock


As Marty is about to drive into the past, Doc shouts, "Happy trails, Marty!" This is a reference to the song sung at the end of episodes of the western TV show The Roy Rogers Show from 1952-1957.


    At 18:23 on the Blu-ray, Doc uses a Colt Single Action Army (civilian model) revolver as a starting gun for Marty's take-off in the DeLorean. In Back to the Future, he used a military model of the weapon in his faceoff with the Libyan terrorists.

    In the novelization, Marty refuses to take the gun with him, saying he doesn't know how to use it and didn't want to have to use it. 


Before he guns the engine of the DeLorean for his takeoff, Marty mumbles, "Hi-yo, Silver." On the 1949-1957 western TV series The Lone Ranger, the character of the Lone Ranger would often use the phrase "Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!" as he rode off on his white stallion, Silver. Besides being a catch phrase of the pop culture Old West, it may have been intended to also have the ironic touch of referring to the DeLorean as Marty's "steed", as it is silver in color.




The Pohatchee Indians that Marty encounters immediately after arriving in 1885 were played by members of the Navajo Nation where the desert scenes were shot.


The bugle call played by the U.S. Cavalry as they charge ahead in pursuit of the Indians is called "Charge".


At 20:51 on the Blu-ray, Marty discovers an arrow stuck in the back of the DeLorean when he walks back into the cave after the U.S. Cavalry chases the Indians into the desert horizon. But the arrow was not there when he backed the car up into the cave a minute earlier!


Seamus McFly wears a bowler (or derby) hat and he loans one of his old ones to Marty. Though Buford Tannen calls the bowler "dog-ugly", bowlers were actually more frequently worn by men of the Old West (along with top hats) than the popularly conceived "cowboy hat" (which gained prominence in Hollywood films instead). Journalist Lucius Beebe even called the bowler "the hat that won the West" in 1957.


Marty winds up bumping into his great-great grandparents, Seamus and Maggie McFly. Seamus looks much like a bearded, twenty-something Marty (and is played by Michael J. Fox). Oddly enough, Maggie looks like Marty's mom, Lorraine! It makes a certain amount of sense that some of the McFly men would look similar to Marty through genetics, but not that his great-great grandmother should look like his mom...unless Maggie was a woman who had a sibling whose progeny eventually begat either Sam or Stella Baines who went on to conceive their daughter Lorraine! (In which case, there was unintentional inbreeding going on between George McFly and Lorraine Baines!) Zemeckis and Gale have said they realize Maggie McFly should not really look so much like Lorraine because they are not related, but they just wanted to have actress Lea Thompson in the film! They argue that it could simply be that McFly men are genetically predisposed to be attracted to women who look like Lea Thompson!


Seamus and Maggie's baby son is William, who will become Marty's great grandfather. A photograph of the McFly family including the adult, married William was seen by Marty and Doc at the Hill Valley archive earlier in the film. William goes on to make an appearance in Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 5: OUTATIME (study coming soon to PopApostle).


    Seamus is carrying a Stevens 12 Gauge Double Barrel Shotgun when he comes into the cabin carrying two jackrabbits he's just shot for supper. Stevens was a real world firearms manufacturer at the time, founded in 1864. It is now a brand name owned by Savage Arms.

    Marshal Strickland also carries the same model shotgun later in the film. 


It is Thursday, September 3 when Marty walks into Hill Valley. The camera pans up and over the train station to reveal Hill Valley is similar to that seen in the 1968 film Once Upon a Time in the West when the character Jill arrives in the town of Flagstone.


At 27:21 on the Blu-ray, Marty walks past the Miss M.M. Keen Dress Maker shop.


At 27:33 on the Blu-ray, Marty walks past the T. Livingston undertaker/cabinet maker shop. A few "unnamed" tombstones are sitting out front waiting for residents. Notice that one of them is the tombstone that was Doc's when Copernicus found the grave in 1955! Marty and Doc don't notice it in front of the shop until much later.


At 27:35 on the Blu-ray, notice the Jones family (in this case, A. Jones) is already in the manure hauling business!


A Wells Fargo & Co. bank is seen at 27:45 on the Blu-ray. In 1985, the approximate same location has become a Bank of America.


The marshal's office has a hand printed sign out front stating that the marshal has gone to Haysville for the hanging of Stinky Lomax. Haysville appears to be a fictitious town in California.


The Palace Saloon is in the same location and orientation as Lou's Cafe (1955) and Lou's Aerobic Fitness Center (1985).


At 28:54 on the Blu-ray, a small barrel of Derby Bourbon is seen behind the bar at the Palace Saloon. As far as I can tell Derby is a fictitious brand of bourbon. In this same shot, what may be a portrait of the late president Abraham Lincoln is seen on the wall of the staircase to the right.


The three old men playing poker in Palace Saloon scenes throughout the film are Zeke, Levi, and Jeb, played by actors Harry Carey, Jr., Dub Taylor, and Pat Buttram, legendary character actors known for their western sidekick roles. In the novelization, page 78 even describes them as looking "like they might all have come out of old western movies themselves."


At 29:12 on the Blu-ray, three prostitutes are seen on the second story walkway of the Palace Saloon. The woman in the middle is the production's script supervisor, Marion Tumen.


When Buford Tannen comes into the Palace Saloon and briefly mistakes Marty for Seamus, he soon asks, "You kin to that hay barber?" "Hay barber" seems to be a slang term for "farmer".


Buford's three croneys are not named in the film, but in the novelization are called Stubble, Ceegar, and Buck.


Buck pronounces the writing on Marty's "moccasins" as "nee-kay". Marty is, of course, wearing his Nike sneakers.


When Buford pulls his Colt Single Action Army revolver and begins shooting at Marty's feet and demanding he dance, Marty starts to do the moonwalk. This is the dance move popularized by Michael Jackson in the early 1980s, though it existed before he adopted it as his signature move. Marty can even be heard mumbling the words of Jackson's 1982 song "Billie Jean".


A millenery is seen at 32:35 on the Blu-ray. This is a hat maker and seller. An advertisement for Stetson hats is painted on the side of the building.


At 32:26 on the Blu-ray, as Marty runs along the street away from Buford's gang, a production crewmember in blue shorts, white-t-shirt, and sneakers can be seen running alongside a camera to the left of screen!


At 33:29 on the Blu-ray, Buford loops the rope once around Marty's neck and then hauls him up on the tackle to hang him. But when we see Marty grasping at the rope to breath, there are three loops around his neck.


Doc faces off against Buford with a customized Winchester Model 1866 Yellow Boy Rifle. Doc has put a scope and sighting on it he appears to have rigged together himself, claiming, "It'll shoot the fleas off a dog's back at five hundred yards..!"


Buford demands that Doc pay him $75 for the horse that threw a shoe, driving him to shoot the horse in anger, and $5 for a bottle of fine Kentucky red eye that broke when the horse threw him. "Red eye" was a term used for a higher quality whiskey that had a red tint due to having been aged in oak barrels.


At 35:45 on the Blu-ray, a blackboard in Doc's blacksmith shop is filled with equations and a diagram full of angular lines. What is it for? Possibly, it is his schematic of the special scope he's put on his Winchester rifle.


Inside Doc's shop, we see that he is still obsessed with timepieces, several clocks seen hanging on the walls and support beams.


Marty changes into clothing, including a hat and serape, that are similar to those worn by Clint Eastwood in the Man With No Name spaghetti westerns.


Two horse stalls in Doc's shop are labeled for Galileo, Archimedes, and Newton, apparently the names of his horses! They are named for Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), often considered the father of the Scientific Revolution, contributing to astronomy, physics, mathematics, and philosophy and Archimedes of Syracuse (287-212 BC), a Greek astronomer, engineer, inventor, mathematician, and physicist. Newton is, of course, named for Isaac Newton (1642-1727), often considered the father of modern science.


When Doc is skeptical that the could fall in love at first sight, Marty tells him, "You meet the right girl, it just hits you. It's like lightning," and Doc responds, "Marty, please don't say that." Doc is likely thinking of both the lightning strike that zapped him (and sent Marty back to 1985 in Back to the Future, and the strike on the DeLorean near the end of Back to the Future Part II that sent Doc to 1885.


When Marty tells Doc that the fuel line on the DeLorean got torn and all the gas leaked out, Doc says there is no other gasoline to be found until early in the 20th Century. This is roughly accurate, though some gasoline-like concoctions had been experimented with as early as the 1860s, so it seems like Doc might have been able to come up with something.


Doc remarks that even the fastest horse could not run more than 35-40 mph. This is roughly accurate, though the fastest American Quarter Horses have been clocked up to about 55 mph in a short sprint.


At 40:23 on the Blu-ray, a fossilized fish is seen on Doc's workbench next to the window.


    The train Doc and Marty plan to engage with to push the DeLorean up to 88 MPH is Locomotive 131, a 4-6-0 locomotive of the Central Pacific Railroad running through Hill Valley. The Central Pacific Railroad was a real world railroad from 1861-1959, when it was fully absorbed by the Southern Pacific Railroad (now part of the Union Pacific Railroad). Of course, it never ran through Hill Valley!

   There was a Locomotive 131 of the Central Pacific Railroad in use in 1885, but it was an older, smaller 4-4-0 locomotive. The engine seen here is actually the Sierra Railway No. 3, a restored 19th Century steam locomotive hosted by the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California that has appeared in numerous film and television productions.

    The 1885 Hill Valley was built and shot at the Railtown 1897 park.


As Doc and Marty talk to the train engineer, notice at 40:54 on the Blu-ray that the clock for the clock tower of the new courthouse is being unloaded from the train in the background! 


The engineer tells Doc and Marty that Frank Fargo is said to have gotten a train up to 70 MPH out past Verde Junction. Verde Junction appears to be a fictitious location.


At 41:26 on the Blu-ray, Doc and Marty look at a posted railroad map of the Hill Valley environs, which shows the town located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, but the map covers too small an area of the mountains to pinpoint it beyond that. The towns and landmarks on the map appear to be fictitious. A Sierra Nevada location would tend to suggest the nearby desert region where Marty arrived in 1885 is in the Mojave Desert, though the Mojave does not have such vast sandstone buttes as seen here in the film (shot on location at Monument Valley, Utah).

(Replica of the prop map seen at left.)


Doc remarks that Shonash/Clayton Ravine is out near the new Hilldale housing development. We saw Hilldale as the neighborhood of Marty and Jennifer in 2015 in Back to the Future Part II and will see it again near the end of the film.


    At 41:51 on the Blu-ray, notice that Hill Valley's new schoolteacher, Clara (her back to us), is standing at the train depot, having just gotten off the train, waiting for someone to pick her up as scheduled and take her to her new house. It was supposed to be Doc picking her up, as we learned earlier!

    Also in this shot, the courthouse clock is seen in the background, having just been delivered from the train. In the earlier shot, as it was being unloaded from the train, the hands were at 8:30. Now, the hands are inexplicably at 10:04! 10:04 is also the time the clock will be stopped by the lightning strike in 1955, as famously seen in Back to the Future.


At 42:34 on the Blu-ray, the train tracks leading to the bridge over the ravine are on very unlevel ground, indicating these are just prop tracks made for the film production. Real tracks would require a more graded ground surface.


At 43:29 on the Blu-ray, as Clara's wagon goes over the cliff, there is suddenly a huge amount of dust coming off it, almost as if it was smoke from a fire! It makes the fall look a bit more dramatic on film, but it doesn't really make a lot of sense!


At 43:42 on the Blu-ray, notice that Clara wears a brooch at her throat with her name on it. Later in the film, she has apparently given the brooch to Doc with a flower attached.


Doc tells Clara he's a student "of all sciences".


At 46:58 on the Blu-ray, notice that Marty and Doc are using the walkie-talkies Doc bought in 1985, but with large, homemade battery packs taped to the back to power them.


At 47:22 on the Blu-ray, Doc's miniature model of the time machine has bullet shell casings taped onto the back to represent the fuel chamber and cooling vents.


The sign on Doc's model for "Start Here" is written onto the cover of a book called something like Hill Valley City, Street Map, Atlas & Trip Guide. The "Point of No Return" sign on the model is written on the cover of The Young and Field Literary Readers Book Four. Young and Field is an actual line of literacy readers for school children, though as far as I can tell, the series did not start until about 1914.


Clara's unexpected arrival at Doc's shop just after the model demonstration, forcing Doc and Marty to quickly pull the tarp over the DeLorean, is very similar to Lorraine's unexpected arrival under similar circumstances in Back to the Future.


During the clock dedication, the mayor indicates that Hill Valley is located in Hill County. This is a fictitious county in California.


A photographer for R. Nilson Photography Studio (possibly Nilson himself) takes a photo of Doc and Marty next to the clock. The man playing the photographer is Dean Cundey, director of photography on the production.


The band that plays at the festival is made up of the three members of the rock band ZZ Top, plus other musicians hired by the production. The music is an instrumental old west version of the song "Doubleback" ZZ Top wrote for the movie.


The Colt firearms seller asks the crowd to test the latest products from Col. Samuel Colt's Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut. Col. Samuel Colt was, in fact, the founder of what was then called Colt's Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company in 1855 in Hartford.


In the audio commentary of the film, Bob Gale says that Doc's dancing style was inspired by that of Henry Fonda's character in the 1946 western film My Darling Clementine.


Marty plays a target game using a Colt Peacemaker revolver (this is the same as the Colt Single Action Army revolver seen earlier in the film). The game happens to be a more material version of the Wild Gunman video game Marty was seen to be skilled at at the Cafe 80s of 2015 in Back to the Future Part II. After Marty accepts Buford's challenge to face him on Monday, the Colt salesman gives him a Peacemaker to use in the duel.


The sign on the target shooting game states that the purveyor is Elmer Johnson. The novelization gives his middle initial as H.


When Johnson asks Marty where he learned to shoot, Marty tells him 7-11. Presumably, he spent most of his time playing Wild Gunman at his local store. In the audio commentary of the film, Bob Gale says that in foreign versions of the film (where 7-11 was not well-known) Disneyland was substituted.


As Buford and his gang are being made to check their firearms before entering the festival, the band's rendition of "Doubleback" ends and it begins to play "Turkey in the Straw".


At 56:55 on the Blu-ray, Marty eats pie from a Frisbie's Pies pie tin. The Frisbie Pie Company is a real world company, originally founded in 1871. Marty later uses one of the pie tins like a Frisbie disc, knocking Buford's gunshot off target and saving Doc's life. Frisbie pie tins are, in fact, the origin of the Frisbie disc. See the Frisbie story.


At 56:59 on the Blu-ray, a couple of Buford's men steal two bottles of liquor from two men passing by in front of the saloon.


When Buford and his gang first spot Doc at the festival, dancing with Clara, Stubble points him out to Buford, saying, "There. Dancing with that piece of calico." "Piece of calico" is an old west slang term for a girl or woman.


Buford has an Iver Johnson Eclipse derringer hidden in his hat which he uses in his attempt to murder Doc at the festival. Iver Johnson was an actual firearms manufacturer of the time, existing from 1871-1993. The name has been reused for a new company founded in 2006, Iver Johnson Arms Incorporated.


When Buford confronts Doc on the dance floor in front of Clara, the band is playing "Oh My Darling, Clementine", written in 1884.


Buford's gang tells him he can't kill Marty tomorrow because they'll be robbing the Pine City stage. Pine City was a real world mining settlement in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at the time.


When Buford tells Marty to meet him in the street in front of the Palace Saloon on Monday for a showdown, Marty sarcastically asks, "When? High noon?" This is a reference to the 1952 classic western film High Noon, about a shootout fated to take place in a small town between a marshal and a gang of outlaws when they arrive on the noon train.


After Marshal Strickland breaks up the confrontation between Buford and Marty, the band begins to play "Doubleback" again. The band (still ZZ Top) even does their trademark guitar spin (and, here, drum spin)!


Seamus tells Marty that his brother, Martin McFly, who could never back down when someone challenged him, was killed with a Bowie knife during such an altercation in Virginia City. There are a number of Virginia Citys in the U.S. that existed during the Old West, but the one referred to here is probably Virginia City, Nevada, the most well-known one of the American west.


At 1:03:17 on the Blu-ray, Clara points out to Doc the crater Copernicus on the Moon through her telescope. Doc goes happily along with the lesson, but it seems to me he probably already knew about that crater through his interest in scientists of the past and the fact that the crater's namesake, Nicolaus Copernicus, was also the name of Doc's dog in 1955!


    When Clara asks Doc if he thinks people will ever be able to travel to the Moon, he responds in the affirmative and begins to describe space rockets to her. She finishes his description for him, saying, "You're quoting Jules Verne, From the Earth to the Moon." Doc was not exactly quoting from the novel, but paraphrasing parts of it fairly accurately. Verne's From the Earth to the Moon was first published in 1865.

    Doc also tells her the journey to the Moon will occur in 84 years. This is true. 84 years after 1885, the United States landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon in 1969. 


Clara remarks that 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was first published "10 years ago". Actually, it was published as a novel in 1871 (14 years ago) in French and in English in 1872. It was first published as a serial from 1869-1870 in the French periodical The Magazine of Education and Recreation.


When Doc and Clara kiss during their astronomy session, a shooting star flashes by in the sky overhead. This is a bit of a trope in Hollywood TV and film to lend a romantic air to a scene. Here, it also accentuates the astronomy aspect that has brought Clara and the doc together in this moment. There are also times in Hollywood productions when a shooting star on screen can be a symbol that sex is about to take place which the audience will not be privileged to see! (Sort of like the train rushing into the tunnel in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest.) Since Marty notices that Doc has been home all night and is next seen the following day acting very happy and glowing, we can assume sex did occur!


When Marty straps on his gunbelt and practices a fast draw in the mirror, he is first mimicking the character of Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) in the classic 1976 film Taxi Driver. Then he says, "Go ahead, make my day." This is a quote from the character of Detective Harry Calahan (played by Clint Eastwood) in the 1983 film Sudden Impact.


At 1:06:57 on the Blu-ray, a sign for W.J. Chang is seen in Hill Valley. The type of business is not indicated. It may be intended to be a Chinese laundry.


At 1:07:06 on the Blu-ray, notice that Doc now has a hole in his hat from the bullet fired by Buford's derringer the night before.


At 1:09:02 on the Blu-ray, the building in the background next to the train tracks where Doc and Marty deploy the DeLorean onto the tracks was originally built for Pale Rider.


At 1:12:09 on the Blu-ray, notice that a round blackboard is propped up on the floor next to Clara's desk in her house, with erased writing visible on it. She may have been preparing for her first day of teaching at the school.


The barb wire peddler seen in the film is a callback to the huge business that the fencing played in the formation of the American west to keep a landowner's cattle in place and that of wandering cattle out of private grazing land.


Doc tells the barbwire peddler that Clara was " in a in a in a googolplex." A googol is 10100, 1 followed by one hundred zeroes. A googolplex is 10googol, 1 followed by a googol zeroes. The terms were popularized by science personality Carl Sagan on his science television program Cosmos in 1980.


At 1:17:01 on the Blu-ray, Doc's horse is seen unsaddled, hitched to the post outside the saloon, so Doc must have ridden bareback to visit Clara and then to town. But when he and Marty ride out to intercept the train after defeating Buford, his horse is saddled!


Heartbroken after Doc's visit last night to tell her he can't be with her anymore, Clara goes with her bags to the train depot and buys a one-way ticket to San Francisco. In the novelization, she buys a ticket to Sacramento instead.


A couple of Mills Dewey slot machines are seen in the saloon. These were made by the Mills Novelty Company, but it wasn't founded until 1891.


When Doc has his one shot of whiskey and immediately passes out, Chester and Joey mix up some "wake-up juice" to sober him up. The only readily identifiable ingredients seen are Tabasco Sauce and green pepper juice. In the novelization, the concoction is said to be made up of Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, onion, chili peppers, mustard seed, and vinegar.


The Western Union Telegraph office is seen at the train station behind Clara at 1:20:28 on the Blu-ray. This must be the office Doc gave his letter to for Marty to be delivered in 1955 as seen at the end of Back to the Future Part II.


The scene of Doc passing out after drinking a shot of whiskey and then being revived by a concoction made by the bartender is borrowed from the 1971 film Support Your Local Gunfighter, featuring a character called Doc Schultz (played by Dub Taylor, Levi in our current film) who goes through the same proceedings.


At 1:22:45 on the Blu-ray, a studio lightstand (unlit) can be seen in front of the saloon window.

studio light


After waking up from his drinking binge, Doc, holding his head, remarks, "The thing I really miss here is Tylenol." Tylenol is a brand name of the pain killer acetaminophen. Acetaminophen was developed in 1877, but not tested in humans until 1887. The Tylenol brand was founded in 1955.


The train's steam engine belches out black smoke like a coal burner. But the engine is seen to burn wood, so the smoke should be gray.


Upon hearing from the barb wire salesman on the train about how disconsolate Doc was over his break-up with her, Clara realizes he was telling the truth the night before, and decides she must go back to him. This leads to her to pull the passenger brake in her train car, bringing the train to a screeching halt. While passenger brake systems have been used in trains for emergencies in many countries over the decades, the U.S. was not one of them. Though a communicating cord often runs through U.S. passenger cars, it is not intended to be used by passengers and it only sends a signal to the engineer. There is normally a coded way of tugging on the cord by a professional to inform the engineer that the train should be stopped due to some sort of emergency.


As the train comes to a stop at 1:25:59 on the Blu-ray, the film is running in reverse, as the steam venting out the side above the wheels is seen going in reverse, back into the train!


At 1:26:04 on the Blu-ray, as Clara runs away from the train, towards the camera, she is not wearing the gloves she was wearing a moment earlier! In later scenes, she is wearing them again.


At 1:26:40 on the Blu-ray, during Marty's stand-off with Buford, the modern state flag of California is seen perched on the side of a building. But the modern Bear Flag of the state was not in use until 1911.


To survive his gunfight with Buford, Marty uses the "bulletproof vest" trick used by the Man With No Name character played by the real Clint Eastwood in the 1964 Spaghetti Western film A Fistful of Dollars which we saw played out on a TV set in Biff's suite at Biff's Pleasure Paradise in Back to the Future Part II.


When Doc and Marty race off on horseback to intercept the train, Doc grabs his horse, Archimedes, which was already tied at the hitching post outside the saloon. Marty had let his horse trot off somewhere earlier when he arrived at the blacksmith shop looking for Doc before finding him in the saloon, so Marty must have taken another horse here (plus Marty rode his original horse bareback when he raced into town looking for Doc and the one he rides now is saddled). The novelization implies the horse he took was Buford's! Both horses that Marty rode were dark in color, but the one he'd ridden in earlier parts of the film had a white strip on its muzzle. The one he rides now does not and Buford's dark horse also did not have the white on the muzzle.


Doc has made what he calls his own version of Presto-Logs, "...compressed wood with anthracite dust, chemically treated to burn hotter and longer." Presto-Logs are a brand of artificial logs made similarly to Doc's description, invented in 1930 using sawdust from lumber yards to use in wood burning stoves. Doc has added anthracite to make his burn longer. Anthracite is a hard, compact type of coal. 


When the red log ignites in the train engine's boiler, the smoke stack explodes at 1:39:48 on the Blu-ray. In the shot of the train at this moment, Doc and Clara are not seen hanging onto the side of the train at all! I guess it was too dangerous to have people on it during the explosion and the shot goes by so fast, director Zemeckis must have hoped audiences wouldn't notice (which I guess is true because I hadn't noticed it until preparing this study!). smokestack blows


When Doc's final Presto log blows, rivets are seen popping out of the boiler of the train, emitting steam. But in later shots, the rivets are all back in place.


At 1:41:05 on the Blu-ray, it can be seen that the stunt person playing Clara as she hangs upside-down from the side of the train is holding onto a cable.


When the train crashes through the "End of Track" barrier at 1:41:50 on the Blu-ray, the tires that were mounted onto the cowcatcher are missing! They are back again in the next shot of the miniature going over the cliff, but the tires are now more modern-looking, all-black tires, without the white sidewalls.




At 1:42:27 on the Blu-ray, as the DeLorean coasts along the tracks into 1985, the sign alongside the tracks indicates Eastwood Ravine, as the folks of Hill Valley in 1885 assumed that Clint Eastwood, aka Marty McFly, died when the train went into Shonash Ravine.


Another sign next to the tracks indicates the Hilldale housing development in proximity, where Marty and Jennifer's family was seen to live in 2015.


The train that totals the DeLorean in 1985 is from Valley Central Railway. This appears to be a fictitious railroad company. The train model is an Alco S6. Alco is now part of the Fairbanks-Morse manufacturing company.


As the train approaches the DeLorean, the shadow on the wall to the left shows that a single engine with no cars is approaching. But seconds later, it a full train with two lead engines and cars.


When the DeLorean is destroyed by the train impact, the car's license plate is left spinning on the ground at the end, just the lost plate spun after the experimental time trip of the car and Einstein one minute into the future at the mall parking lot in Back to the Future.


    Realistically, the DeLorean would not have been torn to shreds by the train as seen here (the prop car was cut into pieces and stuck back together and also rigged with explosives to tear apart the way it does). It would have been badly banged up and thrown off the tracks to the side.

    Also, the engineer on the train would have had to stop after the incident. They wouldn't just continue on their course after hitting a vehicle on the tracks. And then there would have been an immediate investigation by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board).

    In the novelization, Marty even muses on the fact that the train doesn't stop, as if the engineer hadn't even noticed the DeLorean was there. 


At 1:44:17 on the Blu-ray, the entrance signs to Lyon Estates are not graffittied as they were in Back to the Future. Did Marty's alteration of the timeline in the 1955 of that film not only improve his father and his family, but Hill Valley in general somehow?
Lyon Estates in Back to the Future Lyon Estates in Back to the Future Part III
Lyon Estates in Back to the Future. Lyon Estates in Back to the Future Part III


Marty's Toyota pick-up is the same model as seen in the previous two films, but it is a little different in each film! Here, the front license plate is missing and there are now KC light covers on the fog lights and cab-mounted lights. As far as the KC covers, it might be argued that Biff just put them on as part of his auto detailing service.


Biff is waxing Marty's truck with Turtle Wax. Seconds later, Biff also appears to have a spray bottle of Armor All in his car kit.


Dave is carrying an issue of San Francisco magazine as he heads out to brunch with the rest of the McFly family.


At 1:45:05 on the Blu-ray, notice that the headrest on the driver's seat in Marty's truck is missing. The passenger headrest is present. In the first two films, both headrests were present. As Marty drives the truck with Jennifer at 1:46:12 on the Blu-ray, the driver's headrest is back in place!


At 1:45:12 on the Blu-ray, the car in the driveway at Jennifer's house is a 1985 AMC Eagle 4WD Wagon with CA license plate 1LVH415. It's presumably meant to be the same car seen driven by Jennifer's father in Back to the Future, but that was a 1984 model, as identified by the flat hood. It is also a different license plate number.


The bars on the windows of Jennifer's house in 1985A of Back to the Future Part II are not present here, as they are not needed so badly in this better version of Hill Valley.


Needles' truck is a 1978 Ford F-150 Regular Cab 4X4. He has Explorer covers on the cab-mounted lights of the truck.


The music playing on Needles' truck stereo is "Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News. This is the song that Marty's band (The Pinheads) tried to play at the Battle of the Bands competition before being dismissed for being too loud in Back to the Future. So, the song is not an original by Marty's band, but a "rocked-up" cover they put together from the original News song.


The car that Marty would have hit if he'd raced Needles is a 1955 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I.


When Marty pulls away from the intersection in reverse, for some reason his truck's backup lights do not come on.


Marty deserves some credit for overcoming his predilection of succumbing to taunts that call him "chicken", but it doesn't seem particularly smart that he threw his truck into reverse gear and squalled in reverse away from the race Needles was challenging him to. He could have gotten into a different accident that way. Why not just sit there as Needles peeled away? (In the novelization, he does just sit there.)


Doc arrives in the time train essentially at the same time as Marty and Jennifer arrive at the DeLorean wreckage site on the train tracks. Seems awfully coincidental. Did Doc somehow know they would be there? In fact, Doc looks out the window of the engine, first one way, then the other, as if he is expecting to see Marty.


Notice that there is a box mounted at the front of the time train that looks like a flux capacitor.


In the audio commentary of the film, Bob Gale says the look of the time train was inspired by the look of Captain Nemo's Nautilus sub in Disney's 1954 film adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Doc's outfit is based loosely on that of Professor Marvel in the classic 1939 Wizard of Oz film.


Notice that the Time Train has a gull-wing door to enter the engineer's cabin, inspired by the DeLorean!


The framed photograph of himself and Marty next to the courtroom clock from 1885 that Doc gives Marty is inscribed by Doc, "To Marty, partners in time, September 5, 1885".


At 1:50:27 on the Blu-ray, Jennifer steps up next to Marty to ask Doc about the erased fax message. But she was already standing next to Marty in the previous shots of Marty opening Doc's gift of the photo.


As Doc and his family are about to take off, Marty asks if he's going back to the future and Doc responds, "Nope. Already been there."  Then, the train lifts into the air, already hover-converted, and takes off. It makes all the sparks, etc. as if it his going to leap through time. But, in the novelization, the train is said to chug off into the afternoon sky until it was "no more than a speck in the heavens," which sounds more like it is flying into space! Since Doc and Clara talked about Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon and whether humanity would ever travel to the Moon, is the novel implying the train was space-worthy and the Brown family was about to visit the Moon?


At 1:51:17 on the Blu-ray, the bell on the time train moves back and forth, indicating Doc is ringing it as he prepares for takeoff. But no bell sound is heard!


How was Doc able to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to power the flux capacitor on the train back in 1885? The answer to this is later revealed in "Continuum Conundrum" Part 3. He back-engineered the hoverboard that was left behind in 1885 when Marty went home and figured out how to build a frictionless dynamo and extrapolate the means to store multiples of 1.21 gigawatts of electricity.


Notes from the novelization by Craig Shaw Gardner

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing, paperback edition, published November 1989)


Additional characters in the novel not present in the movie




Didja Know?


The book opens with a quote by Jim Morrison (1943-1971), "The West is the best." It is a line from the song "The End" which Morrison wrote as the front man of the rock group The Doors.


Didja Notice?




The prologue of the book, describing Marty running back to Hill Valley town square to meet up with the 1955 Doc after that Doc sends the previous Marty (from Back to the Future) back to 1985, uses text from the epilogue of the Back to the Future Part II novelization, but with additional text.


On page 9, Marty has a dream while sleeping in Doc's living room of the "bulletproof vest" scene from A Fistful of Dollars (1964) starring Clint Eastwood, which he had seen in Biff's suite at Biff's Pleasure Paradise in 1985A.


In the novelization, when Marty is feeling guilty about Doc being stuck for good in the past, he laments, "If only I hadn't been late!" instead of "I never should've let Biff get to me!"


When Doc reassures Marty that there are worse places to be than the Old West, like the Dark Ages, he remarks not only that he would probably have been burned at the stake as a heretic, he also adds "or a warlock or something."


Page 20 reveals that the dynamite blast Doc used to open up the sealed Delgado Mine knocked over a few tombstones in the graveyard! Doc comments they'll set them up again when they finish extracting the DeLorean.


Also on page 20, Doc and Marty have duffel bags of tools and supplies for the extraction of the car purchased at the Hill Valley Army/Navy Store.


    On page 24, Doc reveals that, as a boy, he spent a few summers working at Statler's ranch where he learned to ride a horse and shoot and rope. "Statler" must refer to the Statler family, who is seen to own automobile dealerships 1955, 1985, and 2015 in the previous two movies. We also see Honest Joe Statler's Fine Horses when Marty travels back to the Hill Valley of 1885. In the DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown's Owners' Workshop Manual, Doc remarks in a journal entry that his father sent him to wilderness camp during four or five summers where he learned to ride horse, hunt, camp, fish, and acquire other outdoor survival skills.

    On page 40, Marty tells Doc that he used to ride horses pretty well in summer camp. These two revelations explain how Doc and Marty are such good riders later on in 1885.


When Copernicus finds Doc's gravestone on page 27 and begins whining and looking back-and-forth between Marty and the gravestone, Marty muses that the dog was acting just like Lassie in the reruns he used to watch as a kid. Lassie is a female Collie dog character who was extremely intelligent and would routinely lead her masters to help others who were in trouble nearby, made famous in the eponymous 1954-1973 TV series.


On page 34, the photograph of Doc and the clock describes the clock as resting on a Conestoga wagon. A Conestoga wagon is a heavy covered wagon capable of carrying up to 6 tons and was used for heavy transport in the U.S. and Canada beginning in the late 18th Century and through the 19th Century.


Page 40 implies that Marty and Doc considered destroying the hoverboard, as it doesn't belong in 1955, but Marty couldn't bear to see it destroyed, so he takes it with him to 1885 with the intention of taking it back to 1985 after he picks up the stranded Doc. Of course, the board doesn't belong in 1985 either!


On pages 40-41, Marty thinks that the repaired DeLorean, with the vacuum tube contraption strapped to the hood and the oversize '50s tires, looks like the funny cars he had seen at the Hill Valley Speedway.


On page 44, Doc asks Marty that if things should go wrong and the stranded Doc gets shot in the back anyway, to "get that son of a bitch who does it," despite his past cautioning to the teen about interfering with events of the past.


After saying "happy trails" to Marty on page 44, Doc adds, "Vaya con Dios!" This is Spanish for "Go with God!" It is also the title of another popular western song from 1953.




Being chased by the Indians on page 50, Marty wonders what his fate will be if caught by them, including whether he would be scalped. He also questions his memory of history class that maybe the Indians of the Americas had learned the technique of scalping from white settlers. That may be true in some cases, but civilizations throughout the world have long taken scalps as trophies for thousands of years, including many Native American tribes before the arrival of Europeans.


On page 66, Seamus tells Marty that he and his wife immigrated to America from Ballybowhill, Ireland. As far as I can tell, this is a fictitious village of Ireland. The name also does not translate from Irish or Gaelic, but the look of it makes me think it's meant to mean "Hill Valley"! So, the McFlys moved from one Hill Valley to another!


On page 74, Marty thinks of John Wayne as he walks into town. John Wayne (1907-1979) was a popular American actor, especially known for his roles as tough American cowboys.


On page 76, Marty counts 38 stars on the American flag hanging on the pole in front of the under-construction courthouse. This is correct, there were 38 states in the union at that time.


On page 79, when the bartender at the Palace Saloon asks Marty what he'll have, Marty realizes that his favorites sodas are probably not in existence yet, Diet Pepsi, Tab, and Diet Coke.


On page 87, seeing that Marty's about to be lynched by Buford, the bartender (Chester) tells his assistant, Joey, to go get the blacksmith. This explains Doc showing up to rescue his friend with his customized rifle. In the movie, Doc just shows up.


As Marty's about to get hung on page 89, he is vexed that no one is likely to come to his rescue, unlike the heroic turnings of such western films like High Noon with Gary Cooper (or western heroes like the aforementioned Clint Eastwood and John Wayne).


On page 95, Doc, having just rescued Marty from Buford in 1885, starts to remember helping Marty get to 1885 from 1955, something he hadn't remembered until that moment! The time changes are finally catching up to him.


Page 113 states that the horse Doc is riding when he rescues Clara is the one named Archimedes.


On page 114, Doc reflects that he had seen rescues similar to the one he had just made of Clara in old Roy Rogers and Tim Holt westerns. Roy Rogers was previously mentioned in this study as a singing cowboy. Tim Holt was a more traditional cowboy hero actor appearing in numerous B westerns.


On page 119, Clara says, "Hasta luego," to Doc as they part. This is Spanish for "See you later."


On page 120, after Marty tells of how every kid in school has a teacher they'd like to see fall into the ravine, he muses to himself that he couldn't remember the number of times he'd wished the truant officer, Mr. Strickland, would find his way to the bottom of the ravine.


On page 121, Marty reflects on the altered 1985 Biff had created (in Back to the Future Part II), thinking it slightly worse than the black hole of Calcutta. The Black Hole of Calcutta was a 14x18 foot dungeon in Fort William, Calcutta, India in which 146 British prisoners of war were imprisoned on the night of June 20, 1756 during the Bengal siege of the fort, the cramped and sweltering conditions resulting in the overnight deaths of 123 of the prisoners.


On page 129, one of the games booths available for play at the festival is el sapo, involving attempting to toss wooden disks into the mouth of a large clay frog. El Sapo (Toad) is a real world Mexican game.


Another booth at the festival allows attendees to record their voices on wax cylinders. Wax phonograph cylinders were just starting become available to the public in that year, 1885.


On page 130, instead of ZZ Top playing an old west version of "Doubleback", a brass band begins to play "Battle Hymn of the Republic". The song was written by Julia Ward Howe in 1862.


On page 135, the Colt gun purveyor, Elmer Johnson, tells the crowd the latest Colt revolver is smoother than the finest whiskey in President Cleveland's cabinet. Grover Cleveland (1837-1908) was president of the United States at this time.


On page 160, Marty thinks of the Colt Peacemaker he's been given as "the gun that won the west". There are actually two guns that lay claim to that title in U.S. history, the Colt Peacemaker and the Winchester Model 1873 repeating rifle.


On page 162, Marty thinks of the town undertaker (later identified as Mr. Phipps on page 165) as looking like Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln (1809-1865) was the 16th president of the United States and its leader during the Civil War.


As Doc arrives at Clara's house to say goodbye on page 174, Clara is reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In the movie, she is writing something at her desk, though there is a book on the desk next to her writing paper; maybe she was reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and writing down her thoughts about it, knowing it was Doc's favorite book.


On page 181, when Doc tells the crowd in the saloon that, in the future, all of America's gambling takes place in Las Vegas (an exaggeration), Zeke says he's been there and it's nothing but desert. This is also an exaggeration, but there wasn't much there in 1885. Las Vegas did not become a gambling mecca until the mid-20th Century.


On page 182, Chester remarks that he hadn't heard anybody spin a yarn like Doc's since a few years earlier when a man named Twain or Clemens came in. Mark Twain (real name Samuel Clemens) was a famed American author in the 19th Century.


Page 186 indicates that Clara had come west to get away from troubles she'd experienced back east (including troubles with men). She'd hoped the west would be different, but now she thinks it was absurd to have thought so.


Pages 189-191 feature a scene that was cut from the film of the Tannen gang murdering Marshal Strickland in front of his boy. On page 207, this murder is what Buford is arrested for, while, in the film, he is arrested for robbing the Pine City stage. So, it would seem the murder is not canon according to the film events, which take precedence over the novelization when there is a conflict. Also, Marshal Strickland turns up again, alive and well, in the Telltale Games video game and the comic book series.


Page 207 suggests that D.W. Griffith was a little boy who witnessed the confrontation between Marty and Buford and whom Marty told about "movies". Griffith (1875-1948) was a major (probably the major) American film director in the early 20th Century.


On page 208, as Doc and Marty race off on horseback to intercept the train, Doc grabs his horse, Archimedes, which was already tied at the hitching post outside the saloon and Marty takes another horse, which is implied to have been Buford's!


On page 211, Doc and Marty ride over Gale Ridge to get ahead of the train at Coyote Pass. These are fictitious locations in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Gale Ridge is a nod to Back to the Future co-creator Bob Gale.


On page 217, Doc instructs Marty to turn the time circuits on and enter the destination time of October 17, 1985, 11 a.m. It should be October 27, not 17.


Page 218 indicates that Clara grew up in New Jersey.


DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown's Owners' Workshop Manual Notes from the DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown's Owners' Workshop Manual

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing, hardcover edition, published 2021)


Page 90 indicates that it was on Clayton Road that Marty had his drag race with Needles. The man driving the Rolls Royce that Marty would have hit was business executive Durwood Bennington.


On page 109, Doc explains that he arrived in 1885 Hill Valley with a story of having been falsely accused of hanky-panky in Pine City.


On page 110, Doc explains that he was able to take the place of Hill Valley's previous blacksmith in 1885, who had incurred gambling debts he was unable to pay and had disappeared right before Christmas, 1884.


Page 119 states that the Doc replaced the DeLorean's original tires with Sears F78-14 whitewall tires in 1955 for Marty's trip to 1885.


On page 135, Doc states that he and Clara were married September 26, 1885. Back to the Future: The Card Game sets the date at September 15 (and Back to the Future: The Animated Series has it as December 15).


Page 137 reveals the Time Train was built from another 4-6-0 locomotive. The original train is said to have been built by Rogers Locomotive and Machine Works. This was an actual American locomotive manufacturer from 1832-1905.


Page 143 reveals that Doc installed a Koken barber seat as the "pilot's" seat in the Time Train. Koken was an actual American manufacturer of barber chairs, but their first one was not built until 1900. It's possible Doc picked it up when he purchased other parts for the train in the future in "Continuum Conundrum" Part 6.


Notes from the audio commentary of the film by Bob Gale and Neil Canton


The interiors of Doc's house in 1955 were shot on a set instead of in the Blacker House as they were in Back to the Future. The Blacker House had been gutted for a new interior by new owners by the time pre-production of the sequels began.


The organ in Doc's house is a reference to Captain Nemo, the commander of the Nautilus submarine in Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.


Many of the names on the tombstones of Hill Valley's old Boot Hill cemetery are the names of production crewmembers.


The sort of "tent city" on the edge of Hill Valley in 1885 is the shelter of the Chinese laborers working on building the railroad.


The train station is the same one originally built for Pale Rider.


Actor Thomas F. Wilson based his performance of Buford Tannen on the Lee Marvin's character of Liberty Valance in the 1962 western film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.


The man who plays Hubert, the town mayor, is Hugh Gillin (1925-2004) who also appeared in Robert Zemeckis' student film in 1973, A Field of Honor.


The L of Doc's middle initial stands for "Lathrop", his mother's maiden name. "Lathrop" is also the maiden name of Christopher Lloyd's mother.


Memorable Dialog


Howdy Doody time.mp3

a complete success.mp3

a blacksmith in the old west.mp3


70 years, 2 months, and 13 days.mp3

made in Japan.mp3

I'm bringing you home.mp3

Clint Eastwood never wore anything like this.mp3

there are no roads.mp3

you're not thinking fourth-dimensionally.mp3

see you in the future.mp3

Eastwood, Clint Eastwood.mp3

my horse broke down.mp3

never had any complaints about it from the pigs.mp3

what just breezed in the door.mp3

dog-ugly hat.mp3

what kind of stupid name is that?.mp3

nobody calls me Mad Dog.mp3

you better run, squirrel.mp3

what idiot dressed you in that outfit?.mp3

I thought maybe she was a girlfriend of yours.mp3

it's like lightning.mp3

I have a real problem with that.mp3

we all have teachers we'd like to see fall into the ravine.mp3

I wish I'd never invented that infernal time machine.mp3

I'm not afraid of nothin'.mp3


the only party I'll be smilin' at.mp3


maybe I'll just take my 80 dollars worth out of her.mp3

you yella?.mp3

nobody calls me yellow.mp3

you can kill him on Monday.mp3

after breakfast.mp3

a personal matter between me and Eastwood.mp3

shoot you down like a duck.mp3

let these sissies have their party.mp3

if you lose, I'm taking it back.mp3

you have a brother named Martin McFly?.mp3

considering the future.mp3

I adore Jules Verne.mp3

I wanted to meet Captain Nemo.mp3

I never met a woman who liked Jules Verne before.mp3

Great Scott!.mp3

I'm in it with you and I don't even understand it.mp3

travelling through time has become much too painful.mp3

you can leave the bottle.mp3

one in a googolplex.mp3

I can tell you about the future.mp3

run for fun.mp3


gutless yellow turd.mp3

Clint Eastwood is the biggest yellowbelly in the west.mp3

gutless yellow pie slinger.mp3

great big brown puppy dog eyes.mp3

you thought wrong.mp3

I hate manure.mp3

a science experiment.mp3

who you supposed to be?.mp3

I really like that hat.mp3

meet the family.mp3

your future hasn't been written yet.mp3

where you going now?.mp3 


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