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I remember taking photos of the screen tower at the Studio a few months before it was demolished. The people at the old folks home across the street stared at me like I was nuts! I recall that they were still lighting the neon name on the screen long after the theater closed; it was a nice, reassuring view from the 405 Fwy. I knew that the theater wasn’t long for this world when I saw the president of Pacific Theaters on TV one night talking about how their modern cash crop was as a real estate company. “Our properties didn’t earn any money before sundown,” he said, right before mentioning all of the shopping malls, condos and shoebox theaters they were going to be building. He had a point…but it still hurt to hear it.
Hey—-I LIKED “Straight To Hell!” The Clash, The Pogues and a really bad script—-you couldn’t beat it…though we probably should have tried to…!
Love the Orange Drive-in. Its screen boasted the biggest orange in Orange County! Now pretty much all of the oranges in OC are gone, including the Big O. Too bad.
I saw the last feature shown here under the name “The Paramount Theater”—-that was “Peter Pan” in the summer of 1990. It was then closed for a lengthy renovation. I’m pretty sure that the first film shown once it reopened was another of my Disney favorites, “The Rocketeer.” It was the perfect setting for that art deco-clad film.
And as much as I love that theater, I no longer buy the pre-release tickets offered by Disney at $25-30 a pop. After seeing “Pocahantas” there and being stuck in an assigned seat with some idiot behind me who couldn’t be bothered to parent his daughter to make her stop kicking my seat, I decided it wasn’t worth wasting my money.
I was never fond of the Compton Drive-in, even in the relatively peaceful latter part of the 1960s. They had a penchant for showing what was considered more “adult” fair—-meaning movies with the now long-defunct “M” rating. The last films I recall seeing there were “The Illustrated Man” and “The Oblong Box,” both of which kept me awake at night for weeks afterward. I was always fond of the Vikings depicted on the screen tower and the cute little Pacific Theaters office out front, though. I have photos of it from shortly before the demolishing, sadly showing how faded the paint had become and the vandalism (a large, ugly stain or two across the artwork). In its day, the screen tower was one of only 2 tall edifices in the city of Compton, long before the 12 story courthouse was built a few miles away. The Compton could easily be seen all the way from the 91 Fwy; it was missing it from that vista one day that signaled to me that yet another classic screen had bitten the dust.
Great screen indeed, but we really hated the noise from the flights coming in to LAX and rarely visited this drive-in. By the way, there’s also a great shot of the theater in Randy Newman’s video for “I Love L.A.”
The coolest thing about the San Pedro Drive-In (other than the mural) was that there was a Di Carlo bakery right on the next lot. Popcorn suddenly became no big deal when the aroma of freshly baked Italian bread came wafting over the wall during the films! It still drives me nuts when I pass the Gaffey exit and no longer see the theater over to the left of the Harbor Fwy. It just doesn’t look right!
This is the first of the local drive-ins I recall being demolished. It was creepy-looking even in its good days! We often went there during the early 1960s—-in fact, I called to check on the programs so often that I still remember the telephone number: TE1-3370. Back then, Harbor City hadn’t been incorporated, so this part of town was primarily a no-man’s-land, surrounded by swamps. (My dad and grandfather used to catch crawfish on the neighboring swampland on some lovely, lazy weekend afternoons). I later got to know a couple who just happened to live in the condos that were eventually built on this lot; it was a very strange experience visiting them and thinking about what USED to be there…
I have photos of the Twin-Vue and that dreadful second screen; I’ll have to look for them and scan them. The theatre was pretty trashy-looking for most of its existence; by the time the mid-1970s came (the last time I saw a film there), it was a real eyesore, as was the sad little Picador Restaurant right outside the front gate. All that’s left of this part of old Gardena is the sign from The Condes' restaurant from down the street (you can find it at Universal Citywalk). There’s now a McDonalds and a vocational school on the property, and, unlike in the days of the Twin-Vue, the freeway exits there and not down the street on Alondra. But it’s still hard to pass by the intersection without thinking about that spooky old theatre and the old Dr. Pepper plant across the freeway from it.
One other person who remembers the Twin-Vue well is Bobby Rivers, host of “Top 5” on Food Network! I heard him mention it on last night’s show! (Hey Gardena—-we were mentioned on telly)!!!
This was one of the closest drive-ins to our home and one of our favorites. I could even see it from my school’s playground as the school was on a hill about 3 miles away. At that time (early 1960s), I believe that the screen art above had been replaced by a lime green background and a painting of Little Bo Peep and her sheep. This had probably been painted by Foster & Kleiser, the same firm who created the artwork for other local Pacific Theaters, including the San Pedro, the Compton, the Lakewood and the Rosecrans drive-ins. This original sturdy screen was eventually replaced by a flimsy-looking metal screen to which a second of the same was added, probably around 1970. There is tract housing on the property now, built about 5 years ago.
Oh yeah—-one of the funniest memories I have of the Vermont is that it was often a bit difficult to ignore all of the noise coming from the neighboring race track across the street! Gardena Raceways, which I believe belonged to AC Agajanian, was so loud that we could actually hear the cars slamming around the track all the way back to our home 5 miles away on any summer night! Summer has never seemed quite the same since the track closed. (It’s too quiet)!
Strange but true: I have pieces of the pavement from the Centinela Drive In in my garden! Back in the late 1980s and ‘90s, I had developed a habit of taking pictures of the various drive in lots and marquees before they were demolished. My brother and I ran out one day to get pics of the Centinela, fearing that it wouldn’t last much longer. When we arrived, there were tractors parked in the lot and parts of the pavement had been ripped into small segments. We loaded a bunch of pieces into the back of my car, and to this day they line parts of my backyard garden. Like its sister theater down the street (The Studio Drive In), this one is really missed!