At the Drive-In: Past is Prologue

DATELINE: Take a Bite Night!

drive in

A strange little documentary that is utterly charming details one of the last and biggest drive-in screens in the United States. At the Drive-In notes the dream of those who loved the past and the summer nights that took the family out to the movies, sitting in their car.

Three men: Jeff, Matt, and Virgil, are the organizers. It started with Jeff, a former military man who was a projectionist, a job that no longer exists in the digital age. Older and out of touch with the modern world, Jeff leased a Pennsylvania drive-in that was slowly dying. Only a few hundred are left from the hey-day of the 1950s.

He literally ran in to Matt, a young Temple film studies graduate who thought it was abandoned and dropped by to find Jeff. Calling his friend Virgil, another Temple film student, they provided a social media approach to try to save the movie palace.

Jeff insisted that it show only 35mm movies, which made it a retro-movie theatre. Besides the lack of profit, the actual film stock of 35mm is not used by modern film-makers.

Retrospective films was the only alternative to the alternative drive-in. The entrepreneurs came up with gimmick nights: zombie movies, sci-f, bite night (Jaws and Jurassic Park). All the films had to be 35mm.

There were hangers-on who also loved old films and the ambiance, Jess—the popcorn girl, and snack bar aficionado from Keene, NH, who drives over six hours every weekend to work at what he loves: a place, not a job.

These are simple and real people who a definite love for old movies—and they build up the drive-in from two or three cars to over a hundred per night by the end of the 2016 season.

If you are old enough to recall the nostalgia of the giant screen outdoors, with field before a monster white screen, you likely recall seeing Shane, Spartacus, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and dozens of other old movies in that magical moment of childhood.

At the Drive-In is a gentle marvel of movie-making about movie history. If you love movies, you read reviews and watch with religious fervor. Here is your novena of movie life.