Sometimes the pleasure in going to see a movie has as much to do with the process as the movie itself. Many of us recall being rounded up, dressed in our pajamas and loaded into the family station wagon to head out to the drive-in movies. If we were lucky, there were friends and treats involved, too. I wistfully recall those soft summer nights whenever someone in my family suggests movie night.
Don't get me wrong, today's multiplexes are impressive, but for someone who gets lost at the BART station and develops a tension headache over the choice between a Twinkie and a Ding Dong, a theater with seven screens can be a just bit overwhelming. A snack bar that serves popcorn buckets that only an Olympic weightlifter could hold and costs a sizable portion of the weekly food budget just can't evoke the same warm fuzzy feelings.
Going to the drive-in never used to be that way. It was wonderful. Back then it was a novelty to be allowed outside in your pajamas, and if you got to the drive-in early enough, you could pass the minutes until the sun set playing on the swings that were set up below the giant screen. Finally, the sky would darken, the scarred metal speaker would get hooked to the window and the magic would begin. I remember as a small child, I couldn't believe what was taking place. We were watching movies, OUTSIDE! It seemed inconceivable in my 5-year-old world, and so many years later, the idea of watching movies outdoors still conjures up excitement and delight.
Evidently, the concept of outdoor movies holds a great deal of appeal to many others, for around the country, "guerilla drive-in" movies are becoming more popular. At clandestine gatherings in parking lots or warehouses, people come together to watch movies under the stars. We're lucky here in town -- we don't have to wait for a text message telling us to show up in a vacant lot somewhere to see outdoor movies. We know exactly where to go, when to be there and what movie will be showing.
Beginning Friday at 8 p.m., the city of Pittsburg once again presents Cinema Under the Stars. Movies will be shown every Friday evening through Oct. 31 at the Heritage Plaza on Fourth Street. In the event of rain, the location will be moved to The Art Shack, 31 Marina Blvd.
The program kicks off Friday with a screening of "The Music Man" (a great way to focus attention on our own high school marching band, headed to New York City next year for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade), followed by seven weeks' worth of great selections. Sept. 19 will feature "Rebel Without a Cause"; Sept. 26, "Superman" (1978); Oct. 3, "Pride and Prejudice"; Oct. 10, "The Philadelphia Story"; Oct. 17, "Lord of the Rings"; Oct. 29, "All the President's Men"; Oct. 31, "Halloween" special double feature; "Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein" (6 p.m.) and "War of the Worlds" (8 p.m.).
This year, the Old Town Pittsburg and Pittsburg Literacy committees collaborated on the selections, to incorporate certain titles into the program, which embraces the idea of "Read, imagine, dream, now picture it. See the story come to life.""Superman the Movie,""Pride and Prejudice,""Lord of the Rings,""All the President's Men" and "War of the Worlds" all have books or reading material available at the Pittsburg Public Library.
Call your friends, come down and meet your neighbors, and re- capture all the fun of seeing great movies under the stars. Better yet, read the book first, and really see the movie come to life!
For more information on Cinema Under the Stars, visit www.shopoldtown.com and click the link to events.
Sarah Jacobson is a Pittsburg resident. Her column publishes every Sunday. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published by Sarah Jacobson, Around Pittsburg.