Im­ported view of an ex­ported in­sti­tu­tion

In the late 1970s and 80s, video ( and ’ mul­ti­plex cine­mas) killed the drive- in

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Murray Wal­dren

Drive- In Movie Mem­o­ries 8.30pm, ABC

DI­NOSAURS, do­dos, drive- ins. Once al­most as ubiq­ui­tous as Kil­roy, the last- named are rapidly head­ing to­wards a sim­i­lar ex­tinc­tion as their al­lit­er­a­tive cousins.

Afi­ciona­dos re­port that 24 drive- ins still stand in Aus­tralia of the more than 350 that blos­somed in their hey­day, but that ’ s a rosily op­ti­mistic count. The coun­try ’ s old­est con­tin­u­ally op­er­at­ing drive- in theatre at Syd­ney ’ s Bass Hill closed down two months ago, leav­ing only one other such op­er­a­tion in that city and one other in NSW. Two of the re­main­ing three drive- ins in Vic­to­ria have been Na­tional Trust clas­si­fied in an at­tempt to pro­tect them, while Ade­laide has just one theatre left, the Wal­lis Main­line at Gepps Cross. In the late 1970s and 80s, video

’ ( and mul­ti­plex cine­mas) killed the drive- in, their com­fort and tech­nol­ogy fea­tures driv­ing peo­ple away from hang­ing out out­doors in what had been a com­mu­nal rite of pas­sage.

Yet peo­ple of a cer­tain age still look back wist­fully to what they see as sim­pler, bet­ter times, when fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment in­volved pack­ing blan­kets, pil­lows and their py­jama- clad chil­dren into the back of the car and park­ing in a pad­dock or hard­top lot to watch dou­ble- fea­ture flicks on a big screen un­der the starry sky.

You could even lie back in the sta­tion wagon and watch while munch­ing on mum ’ s sangers or chow­ing down on an ex­otic ham­burger. For teenagers, it was the Amer­i­can way with an Aussie ac­cent, and friends tell me they learned all they know about life, love and the uni­verse at the drivein, and not nec­es­sar­ily from what they saw on the big screen there.

While the first drive- ins came to Aus­tralia in 1954, Amer­i­cans had been en­joy­ing them since 1923, when New Jer­sey busi­ness­man Richard Hollings- theatre as a petrol- buy­ing head opened his first means of en­ter­tain­ing pa­trons at his garage.

I learned the above fac­toid from Drive- In Movie Mem­o­ries , but not a huge amount else. Be­cause like the gar­ish posters that used to ad­ver­tise drive- in fea­tures, this doc­u­men­tary prom­ises much but de­liv­ers con­sid­er­ably less.

A cast of rel­a­tively in­con­se­quen­tial talk­ing heads of­fer com­ments made pithy by speed- freak edit­ing, in­ter­spersed with sparse ( if in­ter­est­ing) footage of drive- ins of the past cut by mod­ishly sharp takes on ads and fads of the time.

It was made by slow- talk­ing Amer­i­cans ( drawl­ing adds weight) for Amer­i­cans about Amer­i­cans. So why show it here? In­stead of buy­ing in this piece of made- on- the- cheap tele­vi­sual flum­mery, the ABC would have been bet­ter served by rolling out its own look at the lo­cal his­tory. It would have been twice as good in half the time. As it stands,

Drive- In Movie Mem­o­ries ain ’ t mem­o­rable but it may ap­peal to nos­tal­gia buffs. Of a cer­tain age.

Prom­ises, prom­ises:

Poster from the golden age of drive- in movies

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.