16mm color film, 28 minutes, 1986


In l933, Richard Hollingshead invented the drive-in movie theatre, a cinema for Americans infatuated with the automobile. For seventy years, the drive-in has asserted its place in American culture as a mecca for families and restless teenagers. Their popularity peaked in 1957 when 5000 drive-ins illuminated the American landscape. Today, the "passion pit with pix" has become a dinosaur.
Drive-In Blues celebrates the drive-in and laments its decline. A blank white screen looms behind interviews with old-time theatre owners who reminisce about the heyday of the drive-in and confront the reality of a dying business. Laced with unusual archival trailers, the tone of the film swings between camp and nostalgia.


"...a poignant video essay... a rollicking eulogy..."
Washington Post

"...a delightful documentary"
People Magazine

"...a sweet little paean to one of the truly great American icons..."
Philadelphia Daily News


Philadelphia Daily News
(Gene Seymour)
The Washington Post (Tom Shales)
Video Eyeball


National broadcast, PBS and Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel, United Kingdom
Excerpts on Entertainment Tonight (reviewed by Leonard Maltin)
Excerpts on ABC Good Morning America
Red Ribbon, American Film Festival, New York
Sundance Film Festival
Sydney Film Festival, Australia.
USA Film Festival, Dallas.
Second Prize, Documentary, Athens International Film Festival, Ohio
Merit Award and Audience Favorite, Palo Alto Film Festival
Independent Filmmakers Expo and tour, New York
Women in the Director's Chair, Chicago
Women Make Movies, American Film Institute, Washington, D.C.
Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Flaherty Film Seminar, New York
Denver International Film Festival
Fast Rewind Conference, Rochester


Produced, Directed, and Edited by Jan Krawitz.
Cinematography by Thomas Ott.
Original Music by Tim Kerr.


For home video purchase, send a check or money order for $21.95 (plus $4.00 postage/handling) payable to Jan Krawitz to:
Jan Krawitz
Department of Communication, Bldg. l20
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-2050
phone: (650) 723-0704
fax: (650) 725-2472

For VHS institutional purchase by universities, libraries, colleges, please inquire.


Drive-in Blues was filmed during the summer of l985 following several months of contacting drive-in theatre owners. The location shoot took place over a five-week period. The film crew travelled 5000 miles through Texas and Colorado, on the trail of living, dying, and abandoned drive-ins. During the research stage, Krawitz contacted several companies around the country that were in the business of building drive-in screens. Some of these companies had diversified into the area of sign-building as a means of survival. Contact with one such company, Selby Industries, resulted in a scene of the demolition of two movie screens. A drive-in theatre in Connecticut was razed to make way for a condominium. Many of the archival food ads and promotional trailers featured in Drive-in Blues were found lying in dust-covered boxes in projection booths and others were made available through the generosity of collectors and film buffs. Many of the trailers had not been screened in decades. Since Drive-in Blues was filmed, all but two of the "living" drive-ins featured in the film have gone out of business.

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