I don’t know what your experience is with drive-in movies, but remembering the precious times we had as a family, in the car together, are priceless memories that I can never forget. I can pretty much remember every movie we saw there (and there were some scenes where my brother and I had to close our eyes because they were either too scary or too naked-y). One of the most fondest memories are the drive-in intermissions that gapped between two movies. People LOVED the fact that there were two movies because you felt like you were getting a two-for-one deal…more value for the buck! Rather than slam these movies together, of course the drive-in owners very much wanted to ensure your thirst was quench with sugar laden soda as well as filled up with hamburgers, fries, popcorn and whatever else you can buy.
So I digress…the reason for today’s post is the DEAL OF THE DAY! That is……..
FREE DRIVE-IN INTERMISSION MOVIES!
Now you can relive those classic moments and watch these classic reminders of your childhood for absolutely FREE! Better yet, there is a folder full of them on archive.org. Just follow the below link to check out 158 different videos:
These are from the 1950s through the 1960s, which are a bit dated for me (I was on-scene 70s – 80s); however, some theaters were still playing these depending on what part of the country we went to.
So what really gets me is I paid about $9.99 to order a DVD with these on it some time ago. If I waited it out, I could have downloaded these for free. Oh well, there are still a bunch on this site that are not on the DVD so this is an exceptional treat.
So here’s a little historical background on drive-in theaters in case you were curious:
Movie-goers in depression-ravaged Pennsauken made history on the night of June 6, 1933. As afternoon gave way to evening, residents hopped into their automobiles, drove to the local theater, and paid 25 cents to watch the new film “Wife Beware” starring matinee idol Adolphe Menjou. And they never left their cars. It was the beginning of a new entertainment phenomenon: the drive-in theater.
Park-In Theaters—the term “drive-in” came later—were the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead. He first experimented in the driveway of his home by mounting a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, pinning a screen to some trees, and placing a radio behind the screen for sound. He also tested how best to protect against rain and other weather problems, and even devised the ideal spacing arrangement for a number of cars so that all would have a view of the screen.
Hollingshead patented his idea in May of 1933 (Patent # 1,909,537) and opened Park-In Theaters, Inc. with an initial investment of $30,000. Advertising it as entertainment for the whole family, he charged 25 cents per car and 25 cents per person, with no group paying more than one dollar. By the early 1960s there were 46 drive-ins across the state. The baby boom, the rise of car culture, and the rapid suburbanization in New Jersey combined to make these theaters a popular form of recreation, and after Hollingshead’s patent was overturned in 1949, drive-in theaters appeared all over the country; at the height of the industry more than 5,000 such theaters were in operation.
Ironically, the same car culture and suburbanization that helped create drive-ins led to their demise. Land values escalated, making theaters too expensive to operate, and new technologies such as the television, DVD, and more recently live-streaming, Blue-ray, and mail order or internet services such as Netflix or Hulu, mean consumers now watch movies at home. In 1991 the last drive-in theater in New Jersey closed, ending an era. Today fewer than 500 drive-in theaters still operate in the United States, but in 2004 a drive-in opened in Vineland, NJ—offering a nostalgic return to a golden age of movies and automobiles.
If you subscribe to Amazon Prime, there is now a documentary available called Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-In Movie, made in 2013 that tells the entire story and even interviews some modern drive-in owners (available here if you have Amazon Prime: http://a.co/ceOwmQV).
Sadly enough, drive-in theaters were not enough to keep audiences engaged through the new millennium. As one study predicted in 1983, (available here: https://archive.org/details/ERIC_ED228660), the size of movie-goer attendees began to decline from the 1950s onward leading to an eventual decline in the number of theaters around the country.
There was something thrilling about the sound of the movie coming through the little speaker as well. I remember the transition our local drive-in eventually made to the car’s FM radio which I guess was ok, but definitely not the same as the muffled speaker which produced an eerie howl when watching the right scary movie.
So a bit of irony here that I must mention….so the LAST drive-in movie that is mentioned in the above historical context is the SAME one that I used to visit as a kid (yes, the Route 35 Drive-In). The playground was awesome! Years later I moved to Ohio for a short time (late 90’s) and my own kids got to experience the Drive-In (Disney’s Tarzan).
Great memories are now yours too at archive.org!