1955 ENCHANTMENT UNDER THE SEA
Enchantment under the sea Dance Location from “Back to the Future”
Editor’s Note: this text is from the old version of BTTF tour – we’re going to be revising these articles in the coming days. The photos and screenshots from these articles will all be down below for the time being, instead of thumbnails within the text. Thanks for your patience, and visit us again when everything’s tidied up!
THIS LOCATION IS PRIVATE PROPERTY!
Obtain permission before entering!
You know, hunting down the Back to the Future locations for the first time is always a thrill, and for you seekers who are about to visit this doozie for the first time, we salute you! Nestled right near the center of old Downtown Hollywood, the enchantment under the sea dance was filmed in the gymnasium of the Hollywood United Methodist Church on Franklin & Highland.
“What!?” you may be saying, “but I thought the dance was filmed at Whittier High School!?” Well, you’re right and wrong. The exterior scenes were all filmed at Whittier, but all of the interior shots were here for a myriad of reasons. One of the biggest reasons, according to producer/screenwriter Bob Gale, is that they were able to film here on weekdays. You see, while filming at Whittier Union High School they were restricted to night shoots, or shoots on days off, such as weekends and holidays.
Weekends were at a premium for the BTTF crew, especially during the day, as Michael J Fox was busy with Family Ties during the regular work-week, so to save time, they filmed it just a few miles away from the center of production, Universal Studios.
Fans will also be suprised to learn that the same stage which served for Marty McFly’s killer version of “Johnny B Goode” was also the setting for the famous talent show scene in the movie “That Thing You Do!” – This is where they first sped up the tempo that rocked them into stardom. Many other movies and television shows have used the Church’s expansive grounds, including Jarhead, Domino,Anger Management, Big Mama’s House, Super Mario Bros, and many of the scenes from Sister Act.
BTTF fans will instantly recognize the setup once they overcome the initial shock at seeing it without all the sparkly decorations. Picture a giant Posiedon statue in the back, it will help you get your bearings!
Filming was conducted here for the entire dance sequence in BTTF part I, and most of the shots from BTTF part II. Some of them, however, most notably the scene where Marty climbs the scaffolding to drop sandbags on Biff’s cronies, were shot on a soundstage, using the blue screen method. Unfortunately, there’s no rigging to climb on!
Come on down and visit, but make sure you pop in to the Church’s office and let them know what you’re doing. These are really friendly church-goers, and they’re usually more than willing to accept visitors, especially if you’re willing to be nice and stay awhile and chat. Visit their official website (linked above) for more information.
Another interesting tidbit: Amazingly enough, the HUMC was chartered the same year as Whittier Union High, in 1909. The Hollywood Church, however, wouldn’t open it’s doors until March, 1930. It took only three years to build, and instantly became one of the most famous Church buildings in Los Angeles. Today it is a registered historic landmark. I strongly suggest taking a good look around this amazing piece of architecture if you have the time!
ADDRESS: HOLLYWOOD UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
6817 FRANKLIN AVENUE, HOLLYWOOD, CA
GPS COORDINATES: +33° 58′ 47.29″, -118° 2′ 38.68″
1955 Lorraine’s House
“…He’s a peeping tom!”
Lorraine’s House Location from “Back to the Future”
Located in South Pasadena, California
Stepping onto Bushnell Avenue, like many streets in south pasadena, is almost like going back in time yourself. It’s the street the latchkey generation wished they could have grown up on. Nice houses, great lawns. It feels like you’re in 1955.
And that’s exactly why Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale picked this location for Lorraine’s 1955 house! Watch the movie closely, and then come to this site. You can walk the street where Marty looked up, and caught his future father in the act – of peeping!
Every time I see an actor from a movie in person they seem so tiny. With the Bushnell Avenue locations you get the opposite feeling. These houses are much bigger looking in person than they are on film. Not only that but the neighborhood is far more upscale than you’d expect.
So here you are in 1955. And of course this house is most familiar to those who remember George McFly peeping at Lorraine from the branch of a tree, and Marty realizing with surprise and disgust that, “He’s a peeping tom!”
Some have reported, though I am not sure why, that the tree branch George peeps from was not real. While I’m sure that in this shot Crispin Glover is not in the tree, (he’s probably on some kind of makeshift platform to allow the camera to line up the shot properly) he is shown in a real tree across the street and that tree branch IS there. I’ve spoken with several friendly neighbors who witnessed the filming and confirmed this. One nice older guy showed me some photos of production (mostly crew) but wouldn’t allow us to copy them. Because of the angle of the over-the-shoulder shot filmed on a platform people get confused. They look for a tree branch pointing directly towards the window when the actual tree branch points south west of it (to the left side).
You can see from the other screenshots below, and other shots in the movie, that George McFly is up in a tree, and with enough time spent figuring it out, you will realize the branch is there, it’s very real, and yes, it’s easy to climb! I’m not sure if the tree is on private property, and we assume no liability for you injuring yourself by climbing trees, but we like to comemmorate each visit by watching the world-famous Tony P climb the tree. Unfortunately Tony P died a few years ago, but we’ll never forget the time he climbed halfway out on the branch and was stuck in the tree for at least an hour.
If you try it out yourself, just make sure the people across the street don’t think you’re peeping in their windows!
Visiting Tip: George McFly and Biff’s (part2) 1955 houses are on the same street! Update: The homeowner in the house behind this tree doesn’t want anyone climbing in ut, but he said this while videotaping me awkwardly trying to climb the tree, and laughing, for liability purposes. So, go ahead and climb at your own risk, but he’s not going to pay for your medical bills.
ADDRESS: 1727 BUSHNELL AVENUE, SOUTH PASADENA, CA
GPS COORDINATES: +34.105691, -118.141549