Widescreen: Drive-ins are back! These are the best movie scenes set at drive-ins

  • Lincoln Curley, 9, of Des Plaines looks to find a comfortable spot on the roof of his parents' car as he prepares to watch "The Goonies" last month at a drive-in theater in the Sears Centre parking lot in Hoffman Estates.

      Lincoln Curley, 9, of Des Plaines looks to find a comfortable spot on the roof of his parents' car as he prepares to watch "The Goonies" last month at a drive-in theater in the Sears Centre parking lot in Hoffman Estates. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted7/9/2020 7:23 AM

Drive-ins are back, and an American tradition that many kids had only heard about is finally a real, tactile experience for the younger set.

Outdoor theaters are an important part of movie history, and they've played big parts in actual movies, too -- here are some memorable movie scenes set at drive-ins.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• "Twister" -- Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton chase tornadoes in this 1996 blockbuster whose coolest scene is set at an Oklahoma drive-in theater where the feature presentation is Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining." The title calamity strikes just as Jack Torrance starts chopping away at the bathroom door. (Streaming on Netflix)

Filming the drive-in scene of "The Outsiders" took a comic turn -- and director Francis Ford Coppola left it in.
Filming the drive-in scene of "The Outsiders" took a comic turn -- and director Francis Ford Coppola left it in. - Courtesy of WARNER BROS.

• "The Outsiders" -- Another one set in Oklahoma, this time at a screening of "Beach Blanket Bingo." Matt Dillon has a clumsy meet-cute with Diane Lane in Francis Ford Coppola's 1983 adaptation of S.E. Hinton's classic young-adult novel. Dillon's Dallas Winston wasn't supposed to fall off his lawn chair, but Coppola kept it -- and C. Thomas Howell's laughter -- in the final cut. (Streaming on fuboTV)

• "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" -- Tim Burton's 1985 debut is a showcase for Paul Reubens' iconic character and a love letter to pop culture. The movie's final scene sees Pee-wee and the crazy cast coming together at a drive-in to watch a movie based on the man-child's cross-country quest to find his missing bike, with James Brolin starring as P.W. Herman. (Streaming on HBOmax)

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Paul Reubens stars in "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," which has a memorable scene set at a drive-in.
Paul Reubens stars in "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," which has a memorable scene set at a drive-in. - Courtesy of WARNER BROS.

• "Back to the Future Part III" -- Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) wound up back in 1955 in Part II, and now 1985 Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) is trapped in 1885. (You may need a diagram for this.) Marty revs up the time-traveling DeLorean to 88 mph at a drive-in decorated with a mural of Native Americans on horseback. The resulting time warp puts him on a collision course with actual Native Americans on horseback, 70 years in the past. (Streaming on Netflix, fuboTV)

'Christmas' in July?!

Which executive at Universal Pictures has it out for "Last Christmas"? Someone's personal grudge against director Paul Feig ("Bridesmaids"), co-writer/co-star Emma Thompson or leading lady Emilia Clarke has to explain why this fantasy rom-com's release was botched so badly.

The trailers were so charming! What a perfect Christmas gift! So when was this frothy film inspired by the Wham! song of the same name released to theaters? Nov. 8 of last year. By the time Christmas actually came around, "Frozen II," "The Rise of Skywalker" and "Knives Out" had already crowded it out of the marketplace. Most moviegoers couldn't find a theater showing "Last Christmas" on Christmas Day.

Why is this pertinent now? Because "Last Christmas" premieres at 7 p.m. Saturday on HBO. That's July 11. The perfect time for a Christmas romance.

• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald assistant news editor.

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