Top Five: Drive-In Movies Within Movies
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If you were fortunate enough to grow up in the '70s you caught the tail-end of the drive-in era. The drive-in wasn't a particularly pleasant place to actually watch a movie; it was a place for rites of passage. Stereotypically the most traumatic teenage experiences, especially the sexual ones, occurred at the drive-in. But no more. While there's definitely a revival in outdoor movies, very few outdoor screens show first run movies anymore. Makeshift screenings usually showcase repertory, indie and experimental film. That means no one's making out or fighting--one of which must happen in order to have a proper drive-in experience. The first season of the HBO series Hung featured an episode in which a teen tries to fight his sister's boyfriend at a drive-in, which was surprisingly hopeful. But we probably won't see scenes like the following ones anytime soon. (Unless we go to Hockley.)
5. Spies Like Us
In 1985, Spies Like Us took advantage of the drive-in's death by utilizing an abandoned theater as the site of a top secret military installation. Two government fools are sent to check it out, met by B.B. King, Sam Raimi and a rifle-brandishing Joel Coen at the gate. King's cameo line: "Won't you gentlemen have a Pepsi?"
Val Kilmer in Heat
Appropriately, Michael Mann turns a drive-in theater into a graveyard in his bullet-ridden 1995 film. One of several nihilistic gun battles, this daylight shootout-demolition-derby is short but intense, with Val Kilmer peppering the desolate theater with bullets, culminating in a salvo of brutal shotgun blasts from Tom Sizemore. Two soon-to-be-has-beens fighting off their career slumps with an endless supply of ammo.
This classic drive-in-movie scene was filmed right as theaters began their decline in popularity. Travolta, as Danny Zuko, sings a song in regret of the dickish behavior that just cost him a hot Australian cheerleader. The crazy snack bar ads steal the scene.
2. The Outsiders
It's totally Shakespearean: teenage class/status conflict at the drive-in. The greasers, C. Thomas Howell, Emilio Estevez and Ralph Macchio, are out to charm a couple of privileged girls, one being the ever-gorgeously-damaged Diane Lane, when their violent world intrudes, further cementing the social rift in mid-'60s Tulsa, Oklahoma.
1. Pee Wee's Big Adventure
James Brolin and Morgan Fairchild play Pee Wee and Dottie in the movie version of the big adventure, which now features car chases and ninja fights. All of Pee-Wee's friends show up for the drive-in premiere, but Pee Wee leaves before the movie's over, telling Dottie he doesn't need to see the end. "I lived it," he says.
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