Drive-in movie theatres are special. They are America at its finest, and their history seems to mirror our own country’s history with its noble beginnings that eventually spiral down into sleaze with entertainment and a gaggle of bad ideas in between. “Drive-In Movie Memories,” a documentary featuring the likes of Leonard Maltin, Joe Bob Briggs and Burton Gilliam (“Blazing Saddles”), chronicles this brand of film experience, which today’s youth is sorely lacking.
Older movie fans far and wide (worldwide, actually) all seem to have fond memories of those large outdoor screens, the poor sound quality and bad food. What this documentary does is bring those memories to the forefront and give them a new life by showing how they played a role in the bigger scheme of things. People who are just casually aware of the drive-in will find this to be a fascinating journey, and those who have immersed themselves into the culture are likely to learn a few new things, too (namely the fact that daylight savings time was supported by traditional theatre owners in an attempt to destroy drive-ins, and some drive-ins offered an easy way to rid your car of mosquitoes: fumigating it with DDT).
If you’ve never been lucky enough to see a film at a drive-in, this documentary will show you what you are missing (and perhaps act as a catalyst for a road trip or two to your nearest outdoor theatre). And while few drive-ins are in operation today, they are making a comeback, though they’ll never be as big as they once were, and they’ll never replace today’s theatres. You can’t beat the memories, however, and that’s something your multi-plex will never be able to match.