Watching outdoor movies is probably the most popular pastime of Tan Son Nhut AB military personnel despite their wide participation in a variety of other recreational activities also available on the military base. Attendance figures from MSgt Tom Romer, manager, show that the outdoor movies at the Base Theather attracted 6,563 customers in March. This was for 164 showings.
The free movies, shown on an outdoor movie screen five nights a week at the four main barracks areas at TSN, drew another 5,200 viewers. This included 92 showings. The Base Theater has a capacity of 242. Some showings, usually in the evenings, often are sold out, especially for hit films. It is not unusual for movie buffs at TSN to wait an hour and a half, or longer, in line to purchase a ticket. Another half-hour wait faces them before the doors open.
Such was the case recently when "Murderers Row", starring Dean Martin, played here. The same was true for "The Professionals", which featured Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster.
One ardent movie fan refused to be dismayed by the Sold Out Sign posted in the ticket window when "The Professionals" was playing. He simply had to get in. He did. He bought a ducat for $ 2.50 from someone waiting in line to enter the theater.
The outdoor movie theater is to get new seats also. The present wooden ones are old and badly worn. "When they break," the sergeant reports, "they often can't be repaired." About 50 steel folding chairs are being used temporarily. This too has its drawback. Each Sunday afternoon the Personnel Services Office borrows the chairs to use at one of their recreational programs in a barracks area.
The free outdoor movies come from Armed Forces Motion Picture services, according to SSgt Billy Goodson who conducts the program. Some of the films have been shown at the Base Theater. The barracks areas usually get them two weeks later.
Licensed projectionists, who are paid for their services, show the films. They are few break-downs. They do a professional job.
None of the barracks areas have permanent seating. Viewers bring their own chairs -- and mosquito repellent.
Article originally published on May 10, 1967 in the Air Force News.