The drive-in, that convergence of two late-19th-century technological innovations, cars and cinema, was born in Camden County, N.J., one sultry June 75 years ago. “The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are,” advertised innovative exhibitor Richard Hollingshead, Jr., who opened the first drive-in on Admiral Wilson Boulevard, charging 25 cents, the price of a ducat at a conventional moviehouse, but offering the advantage of not having to dress up (as people did in those days) or worry about the conduct of your children.
Despite having grown up in Southern California, where drive-ins grew like kudzu, I was too much the movie purist to see films in that context. I liked the industrial architecture of drive-ins, but disliked the tinny sound from the speaker hooked onto the windshield. I saw only one film at one, Sam Peckinpah’s The Killer Elite (1975) with my brother-in-law, Laurence, at the late, lamented art deco treasure, Los Angeles’ Pan Pacific, and we could barely understand the dialogue. Of course, drive-ins weren’t really for seeing movies, but for necking, and that’s not why we were there.
I was the kind of girl who suggested going necking after the movie.
Still, when I see scenes of drive-ins in movies such as Grease and Targets, or rock odes to the passion pit like “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” I get nostalgic for an experience I never really had. Your favorite drive-in movie experience, song?