The List of Favorite Drive-In Movies is your guide to the best movies to see at the drive-in movie theater or to buy on DVD to watch on a large widescreen television. For decades prior to the 1980’s, drive-in movies were popular as popular as burger hangouts. Thanks to Richard Hollingshead of Camden, New Jersey, who invented the drive-in movie theater in 1933, families, lovers and friends traveled in hordes on a Saturday night to drive-in movie theaters around the country where a selection of the 2-3 most popular movies were showing. Oftentimes, black and white movies as well as older vintage movies were shown on one of the screens. Drive-in movie theaters allowed moviegoers to park and watch movies on an oversized screen from the comfort of their car. In the old days, drive-in movie theaters projected sound from the movie screen, called Directional Sound. In later years, cars could pull up next to free-standing speakers to hear the movie or tune their car stereos into the radio station used by the drive-in movie theater to get the movie in stereo.
Doug Melvin talks about comic book movies, Catherine Woods of Mobulls in West Plains, Missouri discusses the best horror flicks and Dr. Brett Ferdinand of Quebec, Canada, a surgeon who also has written a screenplay or two before his medical career began, takes us over the rim with the best sports movies to see at the drive-in or to buy on DVD. Grab your lawn chairs and a cooler (we won’t tell), and cozy up to our list of best drive-in movies of all time.
List of Favorite Drive-in Movies: Comics Come to Life by Doug Melvin of Boise, Idaho
- In Spider-man, Tobey Maguire plays the hopeful young hero as his super powers sprout to life. Kirsten Dunst is luminous as the girl next door.
- In Spider-man 2, the sequel is still done in the spirit of the comic books. Peter loves MJ but saving the world comes first. Typical.
- Jack Nicholson’s turn as Batman is nearly as legendary as the salary he made for the movie. Expect dark corners, sinister characters and stunning costume and make-up that’s worthy of any favorite drive-in movies list. Note: You can usually buy the Batman DVD on the cheap; check discount sales bins at the video store and drugstores.
- Superman was the first of the newer, big scale full-color superhero movies at the drive-in movie theater. Strong, caring and kind, Christopher Reeves set the bar for all of the other comic movies to come in his portrayal of shy Clark Kent and our favorite superhero. Look for this hard to find DVD online.
List of Favorite Horror Movies to See at the Drive-in by Catherine Woods of Mobulls in West Plains, Missouri
- The Shining makes it on to the list of best horror flicks by virtue of Jack Nicholson’s gripping performance. Insanity, ghosts and a chilling what’s-going-to-happen-next make this a classic thriller to catch at the drive-in movie theater. You can often buy this cheap movie DVD off the sale rack at chain discount stores.
- Jeff Goldblum becomes one with the bug world in The Fly, one of our favorite drive-in movies. Hide your eyes when he arm wrestles. Shop for this rare DVD online for the best prices.
- The Blair Witch Project makes you dizzy with anticipation- and motion sickness. This independent horror flick was filmed on a shoestring, but the pseudo-documentary night scenes will leave you breathless.
- You’ll never watch a space shuttle take off in the same way again. Alien makes the list of favorite movies to see at a drive-in movie theater for the jaw-dropping special effects and Sigourney Weaver’s knock-out lead performance.
Drop That Shot: List of Favorite Sports Movies at Home or at the Drive-in by Dr. Brett Ferdinand of Montreal, Quebec
- Shop for the rare Hoop Dreams DVD online- it had only a limited release in independent movie theaters. Follows the aggressive recruitment of two young basketball players from inner-city Chicago. Competition, struggle and triumph are highlighted to this beautifully filmed movie.
- Sylvester Stallone wrote and starred in Rocky and it’s still one of our favorite drive-in sports movies today. Sly has a lotta heart as the underdog boxer setting out to fight the champ. Burgess Meredith and Talia Shire shone in their parts as trainer and girlfriend. Will eventually make it on to one of our best movie soundtrack lists for the amazing music score.
- Caddyshack is funny, smart and also on our best comedies list. “Be the ball” with Chevy Chase and disco dance to Journey with Rodney Dangerfield on the back nine- Caddyshack cracks you up no matter who’s on screen! Despite the immense popularity of this film, it’s almost always a cheap movie to buy- online or at the store.
Drive-In Movie Theaters Today
Drive-in movies were at their apex in popularity during the 50’s and 60’s. On one hand, the drive-in is a convenient and inexpensive place to take the kids; on the other hand, it’s a convenient place for lovers to enjoy a romantic evening together or for friends to car-hop. Since drive-in movie theaters charged a car fee and a per person movie fee, kids often hid in the trunks of cars – a practice that still exists today.
Today, drive-in movie theaters still operate, but they are few and far between. The drive-in movie theaters that remain open celebrate the nostalgia of days gone by and remain a popular gathering place, especially in the summer months. “When we go to the drive-in movie theater,” says Doug Melvin of Boise, Idaho, “it’s a night out with family. Relaxing under the stars, watching a good movie and eating popcorn- it’s a perfect evening out.”
We thank our contributors:
- Doug Melvin of Boise, Idaho
- Catherine Woods, Mobulls, breeders of French and English bulldogs, West Plains, MO
- Dr. Brett Ferdinand of Montreal, Quebec