As recently as 1973 there was a drive-in theatre at the corner of Olympic and Bundy. Really. It was called (wait for it) the Olympic Drive-In. The street-facing side of the screen featured a mural of a 20something couple riding a wave. It opened on 4.4.45 and closed on 10.14.73.
The last time I even contemplated the memory of drive-in theatres was when I was watching that abandoned drive-in shoot-out scene in Michael Mann‘s Heat, which was 24 years ago.
The last time I saw a film at a drive-in was sometime in the early to mid ’80s. I think it was a Bob Zemeckis film (Used Cars or Romancing The Stone). Somewhere in the northern Burbank area, or in North Hollywood. My first drive-in experience was with my parents, somewhere in the vicinity of Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore.
I’m kind of surprised to learn that 330 domestic drive-in theatres were in business as of two years ago. But only in podunk backwaters that nobody’s heard of, much less visited. Carthage, Missouri. Middle River, Maryland. Newville, Pennsylvania. Honor, Michigan. Russellville, Alabama. Sterling, Illinois. Driggs, Idaho. Lakeland, Florida.
Earlier today: I respect the affectionate feelings that some have shared about the drive-in experience, and I love the Americana aspect of drive-ins (those iconic images of ‘50s and ‘60s films playing to an army of classic Chevys, Impalas, Ford Fairlanes and T-Birds), and let’s not forget the most common aspect, which was the sexual stuff (mostly second-base and third-base action).
But if you cared even a little bit about Movie Catholic viewing standards (as in decent sound and tolerable light levels, and no headlights hitting the screen every five minutes) ) you avoided drive-ins like the plague. You went to drive-ins for the car sex, and you brought your own beer.
Wise guy to HE: “‘And let’s not forget the most common aspect, which was the sexual stuff (mostly second-base and third-base action).’ I guess this explains the affection for Elton John ballads. You really are from Connecticut, aren’t you?”
HE to Wise Guy: “What are you saying, that people actually got laid at the drive-in? Some did, I guess. But they sure kept it a secret.”