- "He didn't know what The Atomic Kid was about, but it struck Marty that he could apply that title to himself. Using a small amount of plutonium, he had managed to travel back in time, something no one else had done. The knowledge pleased him, but at the same time he was visited by another thought. / "What next?" he asked aloud. "How long does this go on? How do I get back?" "
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 85)
- " Walking slowly, Marty went back to the Town Square, bought himself a burger and Pepsi, and watched the hands on the courthouse clock slowly move toward four o'clock. Finally, growing bored of people-watching, he decided to take in a movie. / He strolled toward the Essex, but after only a few paces turned left in the direction of the Town. Westerns had never been his favorite type of movie and Ronald Reagan was far from his favorite actor. At least The Atomic Kid was a picture he'd never seen on television. / He paid his fifty cents admission cheerfully, bought an Almond Joy for a dime and went inside. The movie was pretty lame and Marty actually found himself yearning for television commercials as a way of relieving the tedium. Ninety minutes later, having suffered through the story of a prospector who becomes immune to atomic radiation and tracks down Communist spies, he went outside, noting with satisfaction that it was considerably darker. "
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 121)
The science-fiction comedy starred Mickey Rooney as a uranium prospector who accidentally stumbles into an atomic test site, survives the detonation of an atomic bomb, and gains unusual powers after being irradiated. Robert Strauss co-starred as Rooney's older friend and fellow prospector.
Behind the scenes
- Bob Gale has commented that the mention of the film on the marquee is the last remnant of earlier scripts for the film. The first draft, written in 1980, called for Marty to travel to an atomic test site in order to get the power to return to his present, an idea that came from seeing the film. In later drafts, including the fourth draft, and as mentioned in the novelization (see second Quote above), Marty paid 50¢ to watch the film — which he had never seen on television — in order to pass the time while he waited to bring the DeLorean time machine to Doc.
- Like Michael J. Fox, Mickey Rooney's diminutive height (5'4"), youthful appearance, and charisma permitted him to portray teenage characters well into his 20s, although by 1954, he was 34 and no longer a "kid". Robert Strauss, like Christopher Lloyd, was a stage actor who was known in film for his distinctive voice, and appeared in comedies and dramas. Strauss was in his 40s when The Atomic Kid was filmed.