Summer nights beg for drive-in

By Veronica Hirsch

Arizona Summer Wildcat

Maybe I'm just picky, but I hate to see a movie on any screen that's not at least five times bigger than my car.

I come from the old school of movie fans, who prefer a quality viewing experience over just the quantity of movies seen. Sure, I can rent every movie known to man and see it at home on my VCR, but who wants to see a $100 million movie on a $50 TV?

Without a doubt, there is no big screen like the Big Screen at the drive-in. It's not just big, it's so big they had to put it outside.

Tucson, luckily, still supports one operating drive-in theater. The DeAnza Drive-in, at 22nd Street and Alvernon Way, is a massive four-screen relic that sits incongruously between shopping centers and fast-food restaurants in the center of town. Not the usual place to put a drive-in, but then, it wasn't in the center of town when it was built.

The DeAnza's central location is probably the only thing that has kept it alive. Tucson's other drive-in, The Apache on Benson Highway, was just recently torn down and the land put up for sale. If you think about what the land alone might be worth at the corner of 22nd and Alvernon, you realize what a fragile piece of history the DeAnza has become.

Prices at the DeAnza are cheaper than the other first-run theaters in town, despite the fact that if it's cold or rainy, few people will show up. Admission is $5 per person, but it's always a double-feature, and you can stay and see the first movie again.

You will at least want to stay and see the commercials at intermission. One ad is so old it touts nachos as the "new snack sensation," and another one reminds you to head to the concession stand for "a big glass of cold, fresh milk."

For authentic drive-in sound, the DeAnza still has the old hang-in-the-window speakers, but if you really want to hear the movie you can tune it in on your car stereo.

If you haven't been to the drive-in lately, there are a few things to remember:

¨Bring lawn chairs. It's no fun sitting in your car for three hours like you're stuck in traffic. The only decent time to be outside in the summer is at night anyway, so take advantage of it. But bring a blanket; it gets pretty cold after midnight.

¨Feel free to bring your own food and drinks, unless you like paying $3.50 for a large soda.

¨Choose your movie carefully. Big-budget action extravaganzas are the most suited for outdoor viewing. Multiple explosions and long-car chases allow you plenty of time to talk to your friends and hike to the concession stand without missing anything.

The most important thing to remember at the drive-in is to have fun. Someday in the future virtual reality is probably going to make the drive-in seem like the Victrola. So talk, laugh, make fun of the movie, get up and walk around ─enjoy the freedom that seeing a movie outdoors allows.

And if the projector breaks down don't forget to honk your horn ─a lot.

The Cat's Meow is a Wildcat staff member's pick for entertainment in Tucson. Veronica Hirsch is a journalism graduate student.

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