The first rule when it comes to going to outdoor movies in downtown Mansfield is to bring a blanket. It can get pretty chilly on a June night when you spend three hours or so at Temple Court on a Friday evening. Helen and I got pretty chilled out watching the outdoor film screening of "The Shawshank Redemption" last Friday. It was like going to the drive-in theater, except that we didn't have a comfortable car with a heater to sit in while we watched the outdoor movie.
I notice a couple in a Corvette was smart enough to do that. About 100 hardy souls showed up for this first-time outdoor cinema event, bringing lawn chairs and even some blankets. They, at least, thought ahead.
Still, the idea of watching outdoor movies on a rigged up screen is fun. On a clear day it seems to take the sun forever to sink and beams of fierce light still bounce off glass windows. The excitement and suspense of the outdoor cinema builds and the sun sinks below the horizon. You can't start the movie until well after 9 p.m., but even the youngest kids stay awake to enjoy at least the beginning of the outdoor film.
There won't be another outdoor cinema showing downtown until August, so keep an eye on the entertainment section in The News Journal. And when you come, bring a blanket. The chill seems to rise up out of the bricks that make up the surface of the parking lot where the movie was shown.
When I was a pup, outdoor movies were shown in downtown or suburban theaters and are still going strong out in the western shopping strip country. You didn't have to worry about cold, heat, rain or high winds. In the 1940s, the only problem was the lady with the huge hat who sat down in front of you and refused to remove her chapeau.
Outdoor movies, of course, are nothing new. Drive-ins are mostly gone -- with a few exceptions. They were the teenage "make-out" places years ago. Before drive-ins, every town had its downtown theater. These were the crГЁme de la crГЁme places that made the downtown somewhere you wanted to be.
Downtown movies are not new. Small towns that couldn't afford to host a first- or second-rate theater showed outdoor films on the white walls of the local general store after the sun went down. Larue was like that. This was a tiny town southwest of Marion.
When we visited with my mother's family, the Bentleys, at their farm, we might drive into Larue at night to see an outdoor movie. It was kind of like a drive-in theater. The sound came from a single loudspeaker mounted on a barrel. Parking was limited, and lots of folks came and put up lawn chairs, just as they did last Friday night in Temple Court. Enterprising kids worked the crowd, selling popcorn and soft drinks.
It was the highlight event of a long week in a tiny farming community like Larue. Almost like a community picnic.
So I believe that the outdoor cinema event in Temple Court last Friday was simply the revival of a great and old American entertainment tradition.
Source: "Outdoor movie revives memories" by Ron Simon -Mansfield NewsJournal. Read full article at: http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/article/20090607/LIFESTYLE/906070315#pluckcomments