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- "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)
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, 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.