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Project Headlight

November 13, 2005|DAVID WOLLOCK

Long before malls, multiplexes, DVDs and pay-per-view, drive-in movies served as makeshift motels for hormone-crazed teens and made it possible for parents to catch a flick without hiring a baby sitter. California had more than 200 drive-ins at their peak of popularity in the 1950s and '60s, but today only a handful remain, such as the Pacific Vineland Drive-In Theatre in the City of Industry. After more than 50 years, this piece of cinematic history boasts four screens, room for 1,500 cars and a brisk year-round business on weekends. We parked it under the stars and asked drive-in patrons why they like their flicks alfresco.


Deborah Kelley, 37



(with husband Anthony and children Cameron and Tessa)

What movie are you seeing?

"Wallace & Gromit." We have kids, it's always a PG or G.

Why not the multiplex?

It reminds me of being a kid. It was family time. You blow up a mattress and put it in the back of your car and snuggle with your kids. It doesn't get much better than that. We've brought little hibachis. Sometimes we bring a pizza.

Is there drive-in etiquette?

Drive in with your parking lights on. Some people play rap music before the movie. I don't really like that.

Give us a drive-in memory.

When we were kids we used to get

on top of the car, which they don't

do out here. I grew up in Canada.

Why are drive-ins dying out?

It's funny, because when I talk to people about it, they're like, "Where is it? I would love to do that!"


Phillip Jackson, 21


Long Beach


Tina Taylor, 20



What movie are you seeing tonight?

Tina: "Domino."

Are you guys on a first date?

Tina: No. Like practically married.

Why the drive-in instead of the multiplex?

Tina: More "you" time. More

cuddle time.

Have you done any drive-in smuggling?

Phillip: I've got an Expedition, so

it's kind of hard.

Why are drive-ins dying out?

Phillip: Fights, gangs, violence.

Tina: Too much freedom. At the movie theater they can keep better track of you. Here they don't know if you have a gun. A lot of people are scared to go.

When you have your own family, will you bring them to the drive-in?

Tina: Of course.

Phillip: If they still have them.


Tony Scaiola, 31



Are you here with a date tonight?

Yeah, of course.

Do you generally come with a date?

Sometimes with my son. I've been coming to this drive-in for 12 years. When I was younger we used to come here, party and meet chicks.

What can you do here that you

can't at a multiplex?

Get naked. Or partially.

Any drive-in etiquette?

Don't park in front of people you're going to block. I have a gigantic

4x4. I park way in the back.

Have you made out at the drive-in?

Every chance I get.

Will you tonight?

I'll be doing a lot more than that.

Give us a drive-in memory.

My first date after my divorce. It

was great. I came to see a movie

and ended up in the back seat.

What was the movie?

No clue.

Have you seen wacky drive-in antics?

Yeah. Running through naked.

If the van's a-rocking . . .

Don't come a-knocking.


Gloria Torres, 29

Preschool teacher



Rey Gutierrez, 22



What movie are you seeing?

Rey: We're thinking of "The Fog."

Gloria: We might see "Corpse Bride" for the second time.

How do people sneak in?

Gloria: You have to get in a bigger car, like a Suburban, with tinted windows. We would get in the back.

This was when you were younger?

Gloria: Probably like a year ago.

What do people do at the drive-in?

Gloria: I've smelled smoking. And I don't mean cigarettes.

Have you made out at a drive-in?

Gloria: Yes. I didn't like it. I didn't get to pay attention to the movie.

What about tonight?

Gloria: We're just friends.

Give us a drive-in memory.

Rey: This is my first time.

Gloria: When I was little, I used to

go to a drive-in that had swings under the screen. We could watch on the swings.

Anything else?

Rey: "Corpse Bride" rocks!

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