Becky's celebrating 80th anniversary
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS An aerial shot of Becky's Drive-in provides a grand view of the drive-in.
Patrons of Becky's Drive-in will witness an unusual sight on the drive-in's silver screen this Saturday the drive-in itself.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of drive-in theaters and as part of Becky's 14th annual Hollingshead celebration commemorating drive-in theater's inventor, Richard Hollingshead, Becky's will be showing the documentary, "Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-in Movie," prior to the night's normal features.
The documentary is the work of Las Angeles film maker, April Wright, and includes pictures and video clips of Becky's Drive-in.
Cindy Deppe, daughter William Beck, the founder of Becky's Drive-in, said she thinks Wright visited their theater about five years ago. Deppe's estimate corresponds with Wright's who believes she visited the drive-in during 2007 or 2008.
Wright visited Becky's during the day and could not see the theater in operation, but Deppe said she sent Wright pictures her father had taken over the years as well as the 16 millimeter films Beck had made of the business.
"One of my favorite shots in (Going Attractions) came from them. It was in the wintertime and people were snowmobiling and jumping over the ramps of the drive-in," said Wright.
The other 16-millimeter films featured in the documentary show the pony rides Becky's hosted and images of all the cars parked in the lot. There are also daytime shots of people cleaning up the theater's lawn after a night of movies.
Beck was just a boy when he discovered his love for film while at a theater in Slatington. Deppe said Beck would project movies onto a white bed sheet in his living room for his audience of neighborhood kids. In 1939, Beck went from a little boy with a bed sheet to the owner and operator of the Rt 45 Drive-in.
In 1946, the theater moved to a location down the street. In the 1970's, Rt 45 Drive-in changed its name to Becky's. The location and name have not changed since then and Beck's family still runs the theater which was voted "The Best of the Best" in showmanship by the Drive-In Theater Fan Club in 1996 and was included in New York Times "10 Drive-Ins Worth a Detour" by Don and Susan Sanders in 2002.
It came to be that Becky's would be showing "Going Attractions" as part of their Hollingshead celebration after Wright reached out to the theaters she had visited and asked if anyone would be interested in showing her documentary.
Becky's was already hosting a celebration for the 80th anniversary of drive-in theaters and Deppe and her family jumped on the idea.
"I thought it would be interesting to show the history of drive-ins and the history of how it all started," said Deppe.
Wright's documentary is the result of seven years spent researching and visiting drive-in theaters across America. Wright filmed almost 500 operating, abandoned, and former sites of drive-ins and visited every state except Alaska during filming.
"Going attractions examines the drive-in theater as an integral part of American culture from its invention in 1933, to its peak in the late 50s, to the rapid decline in the 70s and 80s, though the recent resurgence. By looking at the drive-in, we see the story of changing American culture and family over the last 60 years," says the documentary's summary.
Wright's film is a collection of great images and stories, but she wishes to do more than entertain her audiences.
"I want people to realize that drives-ins aren't a thing of that past. There are a lot of drive-ins around the country especially now that some of converting to digital…if you are lucky enough to have a drive-in nearby like Becky's you should make it a regular activity to visit and support it," said Wright
"But, I also want them to have an understanding of the history of drive-ins and how it fits in America's history…everybody went to the drive-in growing up except for the young kids right now and a lot of them don't know the experience. I think that is kind of sad."
Wright will be in attendance at Becky's Hollingshead celebration and patrons can purchase a copy of "Going Attractions" at the drive-in on Saturday. In addition to Wright's appearance and documentary, the event also includes a fireworks show after the first admission.
"What's better than watching a movie of the full story of the drive-in, under the stars at a drive-in, in this special anniversary year? This is a time to celebrate and I'm so glad "Going Attractions" can be part of the celebration," said Wright in a press release.