Once a vibrant part of American culture, drive-ins reached their peak in the late 50s with almost 5,000 dotting the nation. Although drive-ins are experiencing a resurgence, today less than...
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Once a vibrant part of American culture, drive-ins reached their peak in the late 50s with almost 5,000 dotting the nation. Although drive-ins are experiencing a resurgence, today less than 400 remain. In a nation that loves cars and movies, why haven't they survived?Written by
April Wright's labor of love Documentary covers a lot of territory even if it doesn't quite live up to it's title of 'Definitive' -- Her approach is a bit too scattershot and unfocused to quite live up to it. Still, it's an exhaustively researched (Wright visited 49 states and the sites of hundreds of past and (then) present Drive-In theaters) and passionately told movie.
Wright interviewed a number of theater owners, scholars and legendary B Movie master Roger Corman during her travels and they provide anecdotes and perspective (even if sometimes they contradict one another). Lots of old footage and hundreds of old photographs are supplemented by Wright's present-day visits of the sites. Wright's Doc was released during a brief blip in the mid-2010s when the number of Drive-Ins actually increased slightly after decades of sharp decline. Even during the course of the making of this movie, one of the examples of a new Drive-In opening up is later revealed to have closed after just one summer. That blip quickly disappeared before a new current one has occurred during the Covid crisis (time will tell how long it will last). The price of land makes a full scale comeback virtually impossible.
GOING ATTRACTIONS is an enjoyable trip through the history of Drive-Ins, still, Wright speeds through the clips and stills so quickly they sometimes barely register. The Wall to Wall song score interferes at times, and, as mentioned, the sheer number of interviewees occasionally results in contradictions: To wit, one moment we're seeing a montage of 50s & 60s families and kids happily playing and enjoying themselves at Drive Ins, the next, we're being told that by the 50s, families were staying home and watching their newfangled TVs leaving Drive-Ins to be 'passion pits' for Teens. 85 minutes simply isn't enough time to capture over 9 decades of history, so a bit more focus would have helped.
Quibbles aside, GOING ATTRACTIONS will appeal to anybody who's ever experienced the lure of the Drive-In. Wright is to be applauded for her efforts in spreading the affection many have for them. May they remain forever.
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