Our Favorite Flicks
You show movies for a living. What's your favorite film of all time?
Paul Javener, founder, Stardust Drive-In, Chetek, Wis.: My and my wife's favorite movies are Independence Day, Cars, and Twister. They are all in both of our top 10 lists.
Mark Goodman, owner, 66 Drive-In Theatre, Carthage, Mo.: Cars is probably my number one. My favorite movies are the animated ones that are enjoyable for the entire family to watch.
Donna Saunders, founder, Field of Dreams Drive-In Theater, Liberty Center, Ohio: My husband, Rod, likes Brian's Song because it's sports-related and a very moving story. I liked Mamma Mia because it was a fun, music-filled chick flick. We are both easily entertained and enjoy different genres, but we don't have much time during the drive-in season to actually watch the movies because we are too busy working on our business.
Ben Smyth, co-founder, DRV-IN, New York: That's a difficult one. I'd say American Beauty, but that's not really a great drive-in film.
What do you think are the best movies for a drive-in setting? How about the worst?
Paul Javener: The best movie for a drive-in setting was Twister. The worst was Signs, because it was just too dark.
Mark Goodman: I think that all movies are great to watch at a drive-in, although the movie Twister was most likely terrifying for audiences at a drive-in during volatile weather conditions [a drive-in is destroyed in Twister].
Donna Saunders: The best are Caddyshack, Animal House, and Grease, and any good musical like Hairspray or Mamma Mia. The worst is Star Wars, because my husband and I both think it's best suited to be viewed in an enclosed, controlled environment.
Ben Smyth: I know it's pretty stereotypical, but I always liked Jaws. With any drive-in movie, you want to have some kind of suspense, and I think it's a good movie to see with friends. It's one of those movies that you can talk over, and you can laugh about certain things now. A good drive-in movie to me is something I've seen before. Unlike a regular movie, you can sit and discuss it with whoever you're in the car with. I don't know if it's today's generation or what, but some of the older films aren't as fast-paced and can make for a long sitting. We've shown movies like the old Manchurian Candidate that definitely don't have the pace of today's films. It's still a great film, but I'm not sure if it's something someone should watch at a drive-in.
Drive-ins get plenty of mentions -- realistic or not -- in pop culture. What was the worst or most memorable depiction on a drive-in that you've seen on film?
Mark Goodman: A drive-in in Cars. In that movie, the drive-in theatre was resurrected along the famous Route 66, just like our drive-in.
Paul Javener: The most interesting depiction of a drive-in was in Back to the Future Part III, where he drives the car at the screen. It was a beautiful drive-in, but the theater had no parking ramps for some reason.
Donna Saunders: There is a musical scene in Grease that comes to mind where the kids are gossiping from car to car, because it depicts the playfulness that happens, spontaneously, when friends come to enjoy a drive-in experience.
Ben Smyth: I can't really think of any that depict drive-ins. I guess Back to the Future Part III was a good one.