Review: ‘Drive-In Movie Memories’

Slick and entertaining "Drive-In Movie Memories," a docu spinoff from producers Don and Susan Sanders' two books on the same subject, offers a breezy if rushed salute to the golden era of al fresco moviegoing.

Slick and entertaining “Drive-In Movie Memories,” a docu spinoff from producers Don and Susan Sanders’ two books on the same subject, offers a breezy if rushed salute to the golden era of al fresco moviegoing. Rich array of archival and interview materials could have used more time, though hour length should expedite featurette’s career as a nostalgic broadcast item.

Drive-in theaters first appeared in the 1930s, but they became hugely popular after World War II, when suburban sprawl and the baby boom made them attractive to babysitter-deprived young families and privacy-deprived couples. Pic tics off the biz’s peculiarities, including trial-and-error technical innovations (heating, audio, mosquito repellent), sometimes splendid architecture/decor, kiddie playgrounds, etc. Plus the films that emerged for outdoor screens, especially those of interviewee Sam Arkoff’s AIP. None of the commentators gets more than a soundbite’s worth of screen time, and the wonderful archival clips likewise go by in an eye-blink. Director Kurt Kuenne’s presentation verges on excess cuteness, while package’s worst element is his own syrupy score, too ponderous for this fun subject. Nonetheless, many anecdotal delights are on tap here, however briefly — such as news that “Blazing Saddles'” 1974 premiere party was a horseback-only drive-in affair.

Drive-In Movie Memories

Production

An Outdoor Prods. presentation. Produced by Don and Susan Sanders. Directed, edited by Kurt Kuenne.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, video), Kuenne; original music, sound, Kuenne; associate producer, Jon Bokenkamp. Reviewed at Cinequest Film Festival, San Jose, Feb. 27, 2002. (Also in Telluride Film Festival.) Running time: 58 MIN.

With

Leonard Maltin, Beverly Garland, Barry Corbin, Robert Fuller, Burton Gilliam, Steve Stevens, Celeste Yarnall, Ann Robinson, Samuel Z. Arkoff, John Bloom, Don Sanders, Susan Sanders.
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