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  Drive-In Saturday Night At The Movies
Year: 1976
Director: Rod Amateau
Stars: Lisa Lemole, Gary Lee Cavagnaro, Glenn Morshower, Billy Milliken, Lee Newsom, Regan Kee, Andy Parks, Trey Wilson, Gordon Hurst, Kent Perkins, Ashley Cox, Louis Zito, Linda Larimer, Barry Gremillon, David Roberts, Phil Ferrell, Joe Flower, Carla Palmer
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: At a Texas drive-in called The Alamo, a brand new film is being shown tonight called Disaster 76, a guaranteed money maker. Because of this, the manager expects there to be plenty of customers, but so do small time crooks Gifford (Trey Wilson) and Will Henry (Gordon Hurst) who have plans of their own. With all that cash being collected, they want to do a bit of collecting themselves and rob the manager in a stick up that very evening, but they're so inept they might have problems. And problems will be the theme of the night, as young Orville (Glenn Morshower) will find out when Glowie (Lisa Lemole) takes a shine to him...

Although it has been all but forgotten nowadays, mainly thanks to the film being out of circulation for a long period, Drive-In was quite a hit back in 1976, especially in America, presumably at the drive-ins that it took its setting from. It was scripted by Bob Peete and directed by Rod Amateau, both sitcom talents who made a fairly rare foray into the world of the silver screen for this comedy. It may have been dismissed by the critics as a rambling mess, but there are a select few who look back on it as a fine item of nostalgia representing the last time drive-ins were truly a success with the public.

Indeed, the whole film is something of a time capsule of those days and if you ever wondered what the experience was like, then this will offer you some idea, although one presumes the average night at such an establishment would be somewhat less eventful. Peete and Amateau seem determined to pack as much plot into their ninety minutes or so of running time as they possibly can, so there are about five storylines running concurrently that overlap throughout. None of them really stand out, although a few are more important than others.

The main plot concerns the troubles of Orville when the local beauty Glowie decides she's fed up being taken for granted by her dimwit thug of a boyfriend Enoch (Billy Milliken) and sets her sights on a chap she believes will be more "sensitive", who happens to be Orville. He is surprised anyone could see him that way, and is relcutant to commit when Enoch is around, but his independence marks him out as a man of means. For the first third of the film, we're not even at the drive-in and much of it is concerned with the rollerskating rink, offering a look at that kind of entertainment as well.

But eventually we do reach the place of the title and we see how the characters congregate and interact. The humour is best described as broad, so wit is in short supply, but if The Dukes of Hazzard made you laugh on television, then you should have some idea of what is in store for viewers of this. One of the most amusing aspects is the film projected onto the screen, a spoof of the disaster movies that were popular at the time that packs in Airport, The Towering Inferno and Jaws into one package (although the shot of an airliner crashing into a skyscraper is probably not as funny now as it was then). Drive-In is good natured but unambitious aside from its American Graffiti-style juggling of the plots, though its historical value is high.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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