Buckner Boulevard Drive-In

3333 N. Buckner Boulevard,
Dallas, TX 75228

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dallasmovietheaters
dallasmovietheaters on October 25, 2013 at 1:56 pm

The Buckner Boulevard Drive-In opened for business June 4, 1948 with “Tycoon” starring John Wayne. You could walk in or drive-in as there was plentiful outdoor seating for the walk-ups. The theater was the third in Dallas within what would be known as the U&E (Underwood and Ezell) and later the Ezell Theater Circuit. That entity already owned the venerable Northwest Highway and Chalk Hill properties in Dallas and other in the state. As the mural suggests, the Buckner not only had movies but had live animals including 15 monkeys to complement the traditional playground equipment including two elephant slides.

The theater was the first in Dallas with individual car speakers. On Easter Sunday 1954, Ezell equipped the Buckner with an 80x40 fiberglass screen — what it billed as the World’s Largest Fiberglass Screen" for CinemsScope and showed “Knights of the Round Table.” It was said to be the first drive-in with three channel multichannel stereo. That system was also created by and added to Ezell’s drive-ins in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Houston, and Fort Worth.

The McLendon Theater Circuit took over the Buckner Drive-In followed by the Weisenburg Theaters in the 1970s. All bookings and advertising for the Buckner Boulevard Drive-in cease at the end of May (29th) with the great triple feature of “The Pack,” “Mansion of the Doomed,” and “Giant Spider Invasion.” As this would time out to exactly 30 years of operation, that could suggest that a leasing arrangement may spell the end of the Buckner.

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on August 4, 2012 at 8:54 am

You can barely make out the stagecoach mural in the 1949 ad listed in the March 19th, 2009 post above.

jrdarr
jrdarr on April 7, 2012 at 1:02 pm

The Buckner Drive In originally had an animated neon display of a stagecoach and horses. I guess something broke and it was too expensive to repair or maintain. The clown picture was installed probably in the middle or late 50s. Most people are not old enough to remember, but it was really disappointing for me when it was changed.

matt54
matt54 on October 21, 2010 at 9:45 pm

The line of cars stacked up on Buckner waiting to get in to this theater when John Wayne movies played would often be past John West Road! Hatari!, McLintock, etc. were big crowd-pleasers back then. Several neighbor families would caravan out here, all of us kids in our PJ’s, and make an evening of it. We’d even play on the playground equipment in our PJ’s, our dads in their light slacks and madras sportshirts on those warm summer nights. Good memories of a good theater.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 2, 2010 at 7:47 pm

thanks for ads and Pictures,Don and S,sam.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on May 8, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Love the Clown on the screen building.

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on April 25, 2010 at 5:19 pm

A couple of nice color pics from 1979L

View link

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on September 26, 2009 at 7:54 pm

Vintage B/W picture of the screen about halfway down this page:

http://www.americandrivein.com/states/tx.htm

DonLewis
DonLewis on March 15, 2009 at 8:20 pm

An old movie theater ad from 1949 for the Buckner Boulevard Drive In.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 9, 2009 at 10:35 pm

An item about Underwood and Ezell in the September 22, 1945, issue of Boxoffice (issuu misidentifies it as September 15, 1945) indicates that Jack Corgan designed all of the circuit’s early drive-ins, including the Circle in Waco, the Shepherd, and an unnamed theater on Military Drive in San Antonio. The item also says that plans were underway for drive-ins in Pharr, San Antonio, and at two locations in Houston.

The only clue I can find connecting Corgan with the Buckner is an item in the July 17, 1948, issue of Boxoffice, which is about a Dave Callahan whose company was about to open a drive-in in Little Rock called the Ascher, which was “…patterned after the Buckner Boulevard drive-in in Dallas.”

The next paragraph says “Callahan was in Dallas conferring…with architect Jack Corgan who designed the big airer.” It’s not perfectly clear from that wording whether Corgan designed the Ascher, the Buckner, or both, but that he designed both does seem likely.

Don Sanders’s book “The American Drive-In Movie Theatre” (previewable at Google Books) has a brief biography of Jack Corgan, and says that by the time he retired in 1980 he had designed over 75 drive-ins. He also designed many indoor theaters. So far, his Cinema Treasures list contains only fourteen.

LarryFM
LarryFM on March 9, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Very good info, Joe.

By the way, the Belknap and the Circle in Beaumont were also operated by Underwood and Ezell. Also, while checking out an online back issue of Boxoffice, from 1965, I ran across the name another drive-in architect: Harvey A. Jordan, of Arlington, TX. His ad shows an illustration of a screen tower that looks very similar to the Buckner, Belknap, etc.

Good luck on your research, Joe. Looking forward to your results!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 9, 2009 at 8:10 pm

The Buckner Boulevard Drive-In was opened June 4, 1948. It had a capacity of 664 cars. Owners were W.G. Underwood and Claude Ezell. Boxoffice Magazine of June 12, 1948, said “Underwood, Ezell, and other associates own 25 outdoor theatres in the state and are building more.”

There’s a possibility the Buckner was designed by Dallas architect Jack Corgan, but I’ll have to do some digging to see if I can come up with any confirmation. He did design other drive-ins for Underwood and Ezell, apparently including the Shepherd in Houston.

LarryFM
LarryFM on March 9, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Very cool, SiliconSam. Thanks for resizing it!

I’m glad you took a color picture of the old screen tower, so that the colors can be ascertained. It should help with roughly determining the colors of the circus clown murals at other area drive-in theatres, namely the Chalk Hill and the Jacksboro/Corral. You have a piece of Dallas history in your posession, Sam. Take care of it, and thanks again for sharing!

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on March 9, 2009 at 5:20 pm

I’ve updated my picture size as well. My 2/19/09 post should read I took the pic while the screen was the only thing left standing. I had just moved to Dallas, and never saw the theater open.

LarryFM
LarryFM on March 8, 2009 at 11:29 pm

By the way, you can better access the picture of the Belknap at the following link:

http://www.fortworthyesterday.com/

Scroll down to the sixth picture from the top, and click onto it.

LarryFM
LarryFM on March 8, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Great picture, SiliconSam! In the meantime, everyone please take a look at the following links. Compare SiliconSam’s picture with the following drive-in theatres:

The Shepherd, in Houston:
View link

The Circle, in Beaumont:
http://randywelborn.com/015.shtml

The Belknap, in Fort Worth:
http://www.fortworthyesterday.com/belknap_di.jpg

Notice the shared design of the screen towers and, in the cases of the Shepherd and Circle, the marquee? I wonder who the architect was for them? Any ideas?

DonLewis
DonLewis on February 20, 2009 at 2:30 pm

A classic catch on this one SS!!

Don…

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on February 19, 2009 at 9:11 pm

You also see signs of a fire on the front right side of structure.

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on February 19, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Here’s a pic I took when the screen was left standing. Didn’t last much longer after this was taken. Don’t have an exact date, but certainly early 80’s

View link

DonLewis
DonLewis on February 3, 2009 at 4:31 pm

1950s double feature movie ad from the Buckner Drive In featuring Gene Autry in “Gene Autry and the Mounties” and Johnny Mack Brown in “West of Wyoming”.