Tag Archives: nostalgia

Was 1971 the best year in rock?

If there is a Rock and Roll Hell, an inner circle is devoted for old fans who insist on telling you how the music was so much better back in the day.

You know the argument: musicians were more creative, the songs were better, etc.

David Hepworth, a veteran British music journalist in his mid-60s, has essentially written an entire book making this argument. Specifically, he says 1971 was pretty much the most innovative, explosive and awesome year of the rock era.

Yet “Never a Dull Moment” isn’t an overbearing trip to purgatory. It’s fun, mostly.

Hepworth knows how to tell a story, be it about Motown mogul Berry Gordy’s reaction to Marvin Gaye’s landmark single “What’s Going On” (“the worst piece of crap I ever heard”) or the jet-set hippie excesses of Mick and Bianca Jagger’s wedding.

And, admittedly, Hepworth has a lot of material to work with. This was the year of “Led Zeppelin IV,” the Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers,” Rod Stewart’s “Every Picture Tells a Story” and David Bowie’s “Hunky Dory.”

This also was the year of “Who’s Next” by The Who. Hepworth argues that the lead-off track, “Baba O’Riley,” propelled by that distinctive synthesizer riff and thundering power chords, is a high-water mark of an incredible year and a precursor to what would become known as arena rock.

Hepworth occasionally veers into get-off-my-lawn territory. He blithely dismisses punk as being mostly about nostalgia, and his assertion that the Rolling Stones did little musically interesting since 1971 might make you want to whap him on the head with the album sleeve for “Some Girls.”

But he memorably writes about troubled artists like Karen Carpenter and Nick Drake. Drake was a shy upper-class kid whose particular talent was to be able to write and perform beautifully ethereal rock songs. His curse was being decades ahead of his time. His music never got much exposure until late in the century when his indie-sounding songs showed up in a Volkswagen commercial and Hollywood movie soundtracks.

By that time, he was long dead from an overdose of antidepressants.

Oh, and Elvis appears in this book, too. The King was past his prime in 1971, but Hepworth employs him as a sort of white jump-suited ghost of Rock Future. In 1971, Elvis was taking the stage to the self-important strains of “Also Sprach Zarathustra” for shows in which fans paid high ticket prices to hear the hits and “bask in a precious moment of shared proximity” with their idol.

In other words, the sort of high-priced nostalgia shows the cool kids of 1971 have put on for decades now.

Thumbs up, thumbs down: The original 1977 reviews of ‘Star Wars’

When George Lucas’ “Star Wars” first landed in 1977, some critics were swept away, while others resisted the tide. A sampling:


“Star Wars’ is like getting a box of Cracker Jacks which is all prizes. This is the writer-director George Lucas’s own film, subject to no business interference, yet it’s a film that’s totally uninterested in anything that doesn’t connect with the mass audience. There’s no breather in the picture, no lyricism; the only attempt at beauty is in the double sunset. It’s enjoyable on its own terms, but it’s exhausting, too: like taking a pack of kids to the circus. … It’s an epic without a dream.” — Pauline Kael, The New Yorker.


“’Star Wars’ taps the pulp fantasies buried in our memories, and because it’s done so brilliantly, it reactivates old thrills, fears, and exhilarations we thought we’d abandoned when we read our last copy of Amazing Stories.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.


“Strip ‘Star Wars’ of its often striking images and its high-falutin scientific jargon, and you get a story, characters, and dialogue of overwhelming banality, without even a “future” cast to them. Human beings, anthropoids, or robots, you could probably find them all, more or less like, that, in downtown Los Angeles today… O dull new world!” — John Simon, New York magazine.


“’Star Wars’ … is the most elaborate, most expensive, most beautiful movie serial ever made. It’s both an apotheosis of ‘Flash Gordon’ serials and a witty critique that makes associations with a variety of literature that is nothing if not eclectic: ‘Quo Vadis?’ ‘Buck Rogers,’ ‘Ivanhoe,’ ‘Superman,’ ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘The Gospel According to St. Matthew,’ the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. … One of Mr. Lucas’s particular achievements is the manner in which he is able to recall the tackiness of the old comic strips and serials he loves without making a movie that is, itself, tacky.” — Vincent Canby, New York Times.


“The only way that ‘Star Wars’ could have been interesting was through its visual imagination and special effects. Both are unexceptional. … I kept looking for an ‘edge,’ to peer around the corny, solemn comic-book strophes; he was facing them frontally and full. This picture was made for those (particularly males) who carry a portable shrine within them of their adolescence, a chalice of a Self that was Better Then, before the world’s affairs or — in any complex way — sex intruded.” — Stanley Kauffmann, the New Republic.


“‘Star Wars’ is Buck Rogers with a doctoral degree but not a trace of neuroticism or cynicism, a slam-bang, rip-roaring gallop through a distantly future world full of exotic vocabularies, creatures and customs, existing cheek by cowl with the boy and girl next door and a couple of friendly leftovers from the planet of the apes and possibly one from Oz (a Tin Woodman robot who may have got a gold-plating as a graduation present).” — Charles Champlin, Los Angeles Times.

From food to makeup, ‘Star Wars’ stuff is out of this world

Right now, in a store not too far away, there is a galaxy of new merchandise connected to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Beyond the usual action figures and apparel, the seventh installment in the space franchise (and the first from merchandise-driven Disney) boasts a broader array of branded products than ever before: from Chewbacca Coffee-Mate creamer (Wookiees drink coffee?) and “Star Wars” mascara to $400 designer Death Star shoes and a $4,000 Millennium Falcon bed.

“It’s wider and broader and deeper and covers more age ranges and is less gender specific than anything I have ever seen for ‘Star Wars,”” said Steve Sansweet, Lucasfilm’s former director of fan relations and Guinness world record holder for the largest collection of “Star Wars” memorabilia.

Expanding the universe of “Star Wars” merchandise internationally was part of Disney’s original vision when it acquired Lucasfilm, he said: “It was very clear from the front, and they have followed their game plan.”

The result is an amazingly diverse range of products, from the unexpected (light-up lightsaber chopsticks) to the unbelievable (haute couture Stormtrooper wear). International offerings have grown in scope and distinction, too, with local licensees and artisans interpreting the iconic characters for their cultures.

Sansweet recently added some Japanese items to his collection, including soy sauce plates and “little kokeshi dolls, which are typical of a small community in Japan,” he said. “They’re usually carved in traditional format of samurai or geisha or something like that, and now there’s a whole series of ‘Star Wars’ (characters).”

Retired from Lucasfilm, Sansweet now shares his “Star Wars” collection with the public through his nonprofit Rancho Obi-Wan museum in Petaluma, California, where he offers educational tours and hosts private events, including two weddings.

Here’s a look at some of the more unusual items keyed to “The Force Awakens,” some of which Sansweet has already added to his collection:

FOOD: Chewbacca isn’t the only one with his own Coffee-Mate creamer. Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2 and Boba Fett also got the creamer treatment, and each is a different flavor. (Chewie is spiced latte.) New York’s Ample Hills Creamery introduced two new flavors in “Star Wars” packaging: The Light Side is marshmallow ice cream with crispy clusters, and The Dark Side is dark chocolate with espresso fudge brownies.

Other branded food items include special General Mills cereal boxes (one shows the Trix rabbit as Princess Leia) with plastic “droid viewers” inside and Kraft macaroni and cheese with pasta in “Star Wars shapes.”

“I’m chasing around trying to find bags of Darth Vader apples,” Sansweet said. “It’s crazy! But it’s fun-crazy.”

MAKEUP: CoverGirl’s limited-edition “Star Wars” collection includes nail polish, mascara and lipstick in such shades as Droid, Jedi and Dark Apprentice.

CLOTHING: Beyond the typical T-shirts and PJs, there are one-of-a-kind designer outfits based on “The Force Awakens” characters, such as Halston’s gown inspired by villain Kylo Ren, up for auction this month (www.charitybuzz.com ) to benefit the Child Mind Institute. American watch maker Devon has a limited-edition “Star Wars” model available for $28,500. The outrageous “Star Wars” collection from British footwear company Irregular Choice is more affordable but may be harder to wear. The C-3PO flats are cute and low-key, but the Death Star platform booties with the Stormtrooper- and Darth Vader-shaped heels are out of this world.

LIFESTYLE: Adult collectors might covet Pottery Barn Kids’ Millennium Falcon bed, modeled after the legendary starship (and only available in twin size). American Tourister has a line of “Star Wars” luggage, and the Disney Store has a backpack shaped like a Stormtrooper helmet. There’s a Darth Vader toaster that brands your breakfast bread with the “Star Wars” logo and the aforementioned light-up lightsaber chopsticks, plus an X-Wing knife block and many other household items.

Is there anything that can’t be branded “Star Wars?”

“There are limits,” Sansweet said. “I’m not sure we’ve seen the end of the limits yet.”

Movies bring back the ‘50s with lessons for today

Fear of unexpected strikes from overseas. Battles over First Amendment rights. Simmering tensions of inequality.

It’s no wonder the 1950s are all over movie screens.

Whether by fortune or fate, movie theaters are alive with stories — from the communist witch hunt of Trumbo to the lesbian injustice of Carol — that plunge audiences back into the paranoia of the Cold War and the social suffocations of the decade synonymous with Eisenhower, the suburbs and the ever-present threat of the bomb. By returning to the ‘50s, filmmakers are finding stories that illuminate the politics of today.

First came Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, a thriller that, at its heart, is about the justice America affords captured enemy combatants and the strength of a morally strong individual (Tom Hanks, who else?) to stand up against a national tide of overzealous patriotism.

After the 1957 capture of Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), James B. Donovan (Hanks) struggles to give Abel a legitimate legal defense, a right that few agree he deserves. The film’s second half, when American pilot Gary Powers is downed in the Soviet Union, serves as a reminder — with clear echoes for the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay — of the value of treating prisoners of war the way a nation would want its own POWs treated.

For Spielberg, who vividly recalls crouching under his desk at school during duck-and-cover drills, the time of his youth is linked to the present.

“There’s so much relevance between the late ‘50s and today,” Spielberg says. “I lived through the Cold War and I was very aware of the possibility of walking down the street and seeing a white flash and being atomized. I was very, very aware of what a tentative and insecure time it was, especially for young people.”

In Trumbo, director Jay Roach resurrects Hollywood’s darkest chapter, when Dalton Trumbo (played by Bryan Cranston) and other screenwriters and directors — the Hollywood Ten — were blacklisted by the studios after refusing to answer questions about their involvement with the Communist Party posed by the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Suspected of “un-American” political beliefs, hundreds of other artists were refused work for years. HUAC presaged U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist crusade.

“There are periods of time when fear takes over, the last time being these last 14 years,” said Cranston, drawing a parallel to post-9/11 surveillance.

While the ‘50s climate of Trumbo was more feverish than it is today, recent rhetoric on Syrian refugees and the rights of Muslims in the United States has, for some, recalled the era’s pitched politics.

“In our political environment these days, the use of fear and outrage and victimization is very common,” Roach said. “I feel like it’s just as much a film about today as it is about what it was back then.”

Boycotts are also again being called for some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Police groups have said they will boycott Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight after the director protested police brutality. Tarantino has defended himself by citing his First Amendment rights.

“It’s still happening in different forms,” says Nikola Trumbo, daughter of Dalton Trumbo. “I mean African-American kids being shot by the police on a regular basis. This country building a wall to keep out our Latino neighbors is shocking and appalling. And then there’s Edward Snowden.”

Carol is director Todd Haynes’ second trip to the ‘50s following his Oscar-nominated Far From Heaven (2002), a story in the style of a Douglas Sirk melodrama about a Connecticut housewife (Julianne Moore) who discovers her husband (Dennis Quaid) is gay and begins an affair with a black man (Dennis Haysbert).

In Carol, adapted from the Patricia Highsmith novel first published under a pseudonym and titled The Price of Salt, Haynes again mines the tragedies of the decade’s social constrictions. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara star as two women drawn together — a romance later cited in a “morality clause” when Blanchett’s husband seeks custody of their child.

“We probably are at our own peril underestimating how much was really brewing in the ‘50s that became evident in the ‘60s,” Haynes says. “There were a lot of questions being asked as well as a lot of anxieties and conformity being expressed.”

Those underlying strains are also at play in Brooklyn, the Colm Toibin adaptation about an Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) who lands in a New York not so different from the midtown of Carol — one where both freedom and restriction surround women trying to go their own way.

That these films have arrived all in the space of a few weeks owes much to coincidence. (The script for Carol was first penned 18 years ago.) But after the stylish ‘50s resurrections of Mad Men and Tom Ford’s A Single Man, it’s apparent that no decade offers the same mysterious blend of convention and nonconformity, in quiet collision, as the ‘50s.

Found Footage Fest salutes VHS oddities

The saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” rings true for Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, hosts of the Found Footage Festival, a celebration of VHS nostalgia.

Prueher and Pickett have been video collectors since 1991, searching thrift stores, garage sales and even dumpsters for lost gems. This year’s Found Footage Festival has been dubbed a “salute to weirdos” and will reach Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Ballroom on Nov. 25.

WiG recently spoke with Prueher about the collection, “cultural anthropology” and encounters with the weirdos the fest salutes.

You’re originally from Wisconsin, right?

I’m from Stoughton, outside of Madison. 

Is that where you and Joe stumbled across the training video outside of McDonald’s?

Exactly. I was working at McDonald’s there in high school. It’s a training video for McDonald’s janitors that I found in the break room. It was covered in dust because nobody really watched it. It was remarkable. I snuck it home in my backpack and it became a cult thing among my friends. 

What was it specifically about that video that made you want to collect more?

Whenever a video raises more questions than it answers, that’s what we’re looking for. That was the very first one where it was like, “Wait a minute. This is a multi-billion dollar corporation and this is the best that they can do?” It’s this trainee’s first day on the job and he just couldn’t wait to go clean the bathrooms. There’s this overly perky crew trainer. There’s sexual tension between the trainer and the trainee. It’s just one of those videos where we became obsessed.

How did you and Joe meet and when did your fascination with VHS tapes start?

We had a mutual friend in the sixth grade. We met and we had a slumber party at his house. I remember specifically watching Small Wonder, which was a terrible syndicated show about a robot little girl in the ’80s. We were in tears at how bad this show was. We loved to hate it and watch it ironically. 

What are some of the best places you and Joe have found videos?

When you know you’re looking for VHS tapes, they turn up in weird places. I’ve found them in a dumpster behind my apartment building while I was taking out the trash. I’ve happened to find them on the street lying on the ground. Joe took a job at a Suncoast Video because he heard they had horrible training videos. He took the job just so he can get the training videos. He dubbed them all at home, turned them in the next day and then quit the job. 

I’ve read that you and Joe encourage fans to send tapes your way.

About once a week in the mail, we get a package and it’s always a gift that keeps on giving. The only frustrating part about our job is that we can’t be everywhere. Some thrift stores aren’t even accepting VHS donations because nobody is buying them. It’s heartbreaking to think that some of these will just be lost for the ages or they’ll end up in a landfill somewhere. 

During the fest, you and Joe provide “where-are-they-now” updates on people featured in the videos. How much time does it take to track these people down?

Usually they’re fairly easy to find because they’re in the phonebook or they’re online. Sometimes, on the occasion that we can’t find somebody, we’d hire a private detective.

In this particular show, we get obsessed with this weirdo who hosted a pet advice college show from Long Island in the ’90s. He would just bring pets from this pet store onto this little table and take viewer calls about pet care. But these pets that he has on this table should not be together, like a snapping turtle and a chinchilla or a cat and a lizard. They’re always after each other, fighting, always knocking things over or falling off the table. It’s chaos, but you can’t look away. 

Have you had any strange or bad experiences with some of these people?

The one close call we had was this guy named Frank Pacholski. He said he’s from Milwaukee, but I don’t know if that’s true. He’s living out in California now. He made a public access show where he dances in a Speedo in a Lone Ranger mask in front of a semi-circle of elderly people who don’t want to be there. 

We flew all the way to Los Angeles to interview him and he had all of these demands about the interview. It had to be on the beach. It had to be on the Santa Monica Pier. We were like, “OK, whatever.” We get there and whatever he’s doing, he’s convinced he’s doing art. We tried to joke around and he was not having it. We couldn’t get to the bottom of what this was all about and he said, “I want my manager to meet you.” We went there to meet the manager about a half-hour later and it’s him, but he’s dressed in a three-piece suit. He maintained that he was a different person through the entirety of our interview. This guy was a real deal weirdo. 

The theme to this year’s tour is “Salute to the Weirdos.” What’s the meaning behind the tour name?

We don’t really pick out videos around a theme. We just pick out the one that make us laugh. With a lot of the videos, we noticed a pattern (this year): All of them, or the good ones anyway, involved some weirdo who is in front of the camera or behind the camera making the decisions. That’s really what makes life interesting and I think that’s why we’re so drawn to these amateur productions. If you’re watching the polished version on TV, it’s boring. We like imperfections and weirdos bring those out in full force. We’re paying tribute to them by picking out the greatest weirdos from 20-plus years of collecting VHS.

In the past, your work has been called “cultural anthropology.” Would you agree?

I think we’re definitely excavating artifacts from a bygone era. You’re seeing some of the unvarnished history. AFI has put out a list of the greatest movies of the last 50 years, (but) it’s a pretty incomplete picture of who we are as people. If you’re looking at exercise videos, people’s home movies, training videos and other things that aren’t meant to be shown in public, that’s a more complete picture of who we are. 

What can fans expect from the upcoming show in Milwaukee?

There’s going to be some full-frontal male nudity, so that’s something that they can really look forward to. I always look forward to going back to Wisconsin because a lot of our videos come from there. A lot of my friends and family are from there. And I love Turner Hall. That’s why I’m excited to be back home for the holiday and bring these videos back to where they all started. 


The Found Footage Festival will take place at 8 p.m. on Nov. 25 at Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 N. Fourth St., Milwaukee. Tickets are $12 and can be ordered at 414-286-3663 or pabsttheater.org.

2014: Word of the year is ‘culture’

A nation, a workplace, an ethnicity, a passion, an outsized personality. The people who comprise these things, who fawn or rail against them, are behind Merriam-Webster’s 2014 word of the year: culture.

The word joins Oxford Dictionaries’ “vape,” a darling of the e-cigarette movement, and “exposure,” declared the year’s winner at Dictionary.com during a time of tragedy and fear due to Ebola.

Merriam-Webster based its pick and nine runners-up on significant increases in lookups this year over last on Merriam-Webster.com, along with interesting, often culture-driven — if you will — spikes of concentrated interest.

In the No. 2 spot is “nostalgia,” during a year of big 50th anniversaries pegged to 1964: the start of the free speech movement, the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the birth of the Ford Mustang and the British Invasion heralded by the landing of the Beatles on U.S. soil for the first time.

Nostalgia was followed by insidious, legacy, feminism and a rare multiword phrase that can be looked up in total, in a foreign language at that: the French “je ne sais quoi.”

The Springfield, Massachusetts-based dictionary giant filters out perennial favorites when picking word of the year, but does that formula leave them chasing language fads?

“We’re simply using the word culture more frequently,” said Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster. “It may be a fad. It may not. It may simply be evolution.”

Sokolowski noted that the reasons words are looked up aren’t just about not knowing what they mean. Sometimes, he said, we seek inspiration or a way to check in on ourselves. Of an estimated 100 million lookups on the website each year and a similar number on the company’s app, culture enjoyed a 15 percent year-over-year increase.

Percentage-wise, it doesn’t sound like much, but the raw number in that stratosphere is large, Sokolowski said. He wouldn’t disclose actual numbers, though, citing the proprietary nature of that data for a company still privately held.

Sokolowski is a lexicographer, not a mind reader, so his observations about why any single word takes off in terms of lookups is well-informed but theoretical.

“The word culture’s got a cultural story. We have noticed for years that culture has a cyclical spike every year at around Labor Day. That is to say back to school time during the month of September, so we’ve been watching this word spike at that time for years,” he said by telephone from Springfield. “In recent years we’ve seen similar spikes at the end of semesters during finals.”

But traffic throughout the year indicates that culture is a “chameleon,” Sokolowski said. “When you put it next to another word it means something very different. For example, ‘consumer culture’ or ‘rape culture,’ which we’ve been reading about lately.”

There’s the “culture of transparency” in government and business, and “celebrity culture,” and the “culture of winning” in sports, he noted. “It’s a word that can be very specific, like ‘test prep culture,’ or it can be very, very broad, like ‘coffee culture.””

One standout reference that caught Sokolowski’s eye in The New Yorker’s December issue is from a new book, “How Google Works,” which includes a description of a software fix by a few engineers that made ads more relevant on the search engine:

“It wasn’t Google’s culture that turned those five engineers into problem-solving ninjas who changed the course of the company over the weekend,” wrote the authors, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former head of product development Jonathan Rosenberg.

“Rather it was the culture that attracted the ninjas to the company in the first place.”

Before the word culture exploded, Sokolowski said, “we used to talk about ‘society’ a lot. Certain groups are taking ‘society’ out of their names now. It seems to be receding. Part of that seems to be because it’s elitist. We’re using the word culture more frequently in that place.”

Not all lookup spikes are quite that complex. The reason “je ne sais quoi” landed at No. 6, for instance, is “dead simple,” he said.

The fast-food drive-in chain Sonic, known for TV spots featuring two goofy dudes eating in a car, had them munching on boneless chicken wings in September.

“I’ve finally found myself a wingman,” goofy guy No. 1 says of the wings he hopes will make him a chick magnet.

“Oh right,” sneers goofy guy No. 2, “gonna give you that certain je ne sais quoi.”

Responds No. 1: “Jenna said what?”

They mine the word play a couple more times, but you get the picture.

“Since September when this ad came out this word has been close to the Top 10 or in the Top 10 of our lookups almost every single day,” Sokolowski said.

Fast-food aside, he called this year’s list a relatively sober one.

Insidious, for example, received a bump early in the year when a new trailer was released for “Insidious: Chapter 3,” a prequel in the horror film franchise “Insidious,” out in June. The word surfaced in a big way again, on Oct. 8, when a Texas hospital released a statement on the death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first confirmed Ebola patient in the United States.

The statement spoke of his courageous battle and the hospital’s profound sadness when he “succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola.”

Rounding out the Top 10 are innovation, surreptitious, autonomy and morbidity.

“This is a fairly sober list. It was a fairly sober year,” he concluded.

Wisconsin drive-in theater rates No. 1 with moviegoers in U.S.

The Skyway Drive-In Theatre in Fish Creek, Wisconsin, rates No. 1 with moviegoers on TripAdvisor.

The world’s largest travel site took on July 30 announced the 10 top drive-in movie theaters in the United States based on its “popularity index.” That index uses reviews — the quality, quantity and recency — from TripAdvisor users for the rankings.

“Drive-in movie theaters can often evoke a nostalgic feeling for years gone by,” aid TripAdvisor spokeswoman Brooke Ferencsik. “For those looking to visit these classic American attractions, the TripAdvisor community has identified 10 fantastic drive-in movie theaters that offer affordable admission and a unique viewing experience that is sure to provide fun for families of all ages.”

And the ratings are:

1. Skyway Drive-In Theatre, Fish Creek, Wisconsin. 
Since 1950, this family-owned theater has welcomed motorized moviegoers with vintage cartoon previews and a snack bar that serves up foot-long hot dogs, candies and novelty ice cream treats. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “This fun, family oriented drive-in theatre has it all! Grassy play area, swings, great sound and picture!” Admission for double feature showings is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-11.

2. Swan Drive In, Blue Ridge, Georgia. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, visitors to this 1950s theater can munch on decadent fare from the concession stand, including deep fried Oreos and funnel cake, while enjoying first-run flicks. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “It really doesn’t matter what movie is playing… just GO! Be sure to visit the snack bar for a great burger, real corn dogs, and all the stuff you remember at the Drive-In!” Admission for double feature showings is $7 for adults and $4 for children ages 4-11.

3. Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre, Lubbock, Texas. 
Opened in 2003, this modern theater boasts three screens, offering auto-bound audiences more viewing options than most vintage drive-ins. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “The kiddos loved the playground area, especially the merry go round! Grandma loved the nostalgic feel of an ‘oldies’-style drive in. My husband loved the food at the ’50s cafe, and I loved the cost, which was quite a bit more affordable than a sit-in movie theater.” Admission for double feature showings is $7 for adults and $5 for children ages 4-11.

4. Highway 21 Drive-In Theater, Beaufort, South Carolina. On Port Royal Island in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, this drive-in operates year-round. Purchased by a couple in 2003, the theater has been brought into the 21st century with the addition of digital players and a second screen. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “With extremely reasonable ticket prices and wallet saving concession prices, the Highway 21 Drive-In really offers a family friendly environment to enjoy a movie.” Admission for double feature showings is $7 for adults and $3 for children ages 5-12.

5. Coyote Drive-In, Fort Worth, Texas. 
With Fort Worth’s skyline as the backdrop, patrons can take in a show in the comfort of their vehicle at this Texan theater. Hungry moviegoers can head to the Coyote Canteen for snacks, craft beer and wine, and on weekends enjoy live music before the screening. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “The atmosphere at Coyote is really nice with a great view of the Ft. Worth skyline making it even cooler.” Admission for double feature showings is $8 for adults and $6 for children ages 4-10.

6. Saco Drive-In Theater, Saco, Maine. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this summer, this southern Maine attraction is the second oldest U.S. drive-in that is still in operation. Before the show starts, children can enjoy on-site laser tag or play in the bounce house, while adults can head to the patio for al fresco refreshments. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “Completely isolated by a wall of mature pines, this place makes for great movie watching.” Admission for double feature showings is $15 for cars of three or less people, $20 for four or more.

7. Hull’s Drive-In, Lexington, Virginia. Known as America’s first community-owned, non-profit drive-in, residents of Lexington saved this theater from closure in 1999. In addition to movies, the theater also hosts various events including concert showings, festivals, flea markets and more. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “In the summer evenings drive in, pull out lawn chairs or sit in your car with the speakers hanging on the window while you watch the movie a la 1955.” Admission for double feature showings is $7 for adults and $3 for children ages 5-11.

8. Starlite Drive-In, Wichita, Kansas. 
In Kansas’ largest city, budget-minded moviegoers can find a bargain at this 40-year-old drive in, which often screens three movies for the price of a single admission. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “Great popcorn, digital projection, your choice of in-car radio sound or the old speaker on the pole, and the ability to set out your lawn chairs and enjoy a good movie under the stars, make this place a real treasure.” Admission for double or triple feature showings is $9 for adults and $2 for children ages 5-11.

9. Wellfleet Drive-In Theatre, Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Built in 1957, this Cape Cod drive-in is the essence of retro. Complete with a mini-golf course an
a snack bar that offers classic fare including cheeseburgers and milkshakes, customers can enjoy old-fashioned fun and food before sitting down for the main event. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “From the entrance booth to the genuine 1950s sound system, the place evokes a long gone era. Drive in, buy your popcorn, sit back and enjoy.” Admission for a double feature showing is $9 for adults and $6 for children ages 4-11.

10. Sunset Drive-In Theatre, San Luis Obispo, California. Operating year-round since 1950, this vintage drive-in located on California’s Central Coast features more than 500 parking spots for film fans to enjoy the show. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “I’ve been coming to this movie theater since I was a kid, and now I take my kids!! It is way cheaper than taking them to the movie theater and the seating is better!” Admission for a single or double feature showing is $8 for adults and $3 for children ages 5-11. 

FYI…The Skyway Drive-In is located at 3475 Highway 42, Fish Creek, Wisconsin 54212. Halfway between Fish Creek and Ephraim. Directly across from Peninsula State Park. Now playing: “Planes: Fire & Rescue” and “Maleficent.”

Do you have a favorite drive-in theater that didn’t make the list, but should have? Share with WiG readers.

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