Don Drive-In

5500 Memorial Boulevard,
Port Arthur, TX 77640

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1980 newspaper ad

A typical twin screen drive-in theater. It was located at, what was then, the outskirts of town. The projection setup was unusual in that, even in the late-1970’s the projectors could only handle single reels of film, having to be switched to the other projector every 20 minutes or so. It also used a carbon arc light when most theaters were xenon.

The front screen was also unusual in that it had a small apartment built into the base that the manager lived in.

Contributed by Steven Domingue

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

carolgrau
carolgrau on April 10, 2009 at 11:13 pm

What is unusual about that? That is what is called real projection. I remember when we went xenon, after one lamp was installed we wanted to see the difference. We left the xenon lit, then fired up the old Strong Futura II, the carbon knocked the xenon light right off the screen. Carbons was by far a much better light source but they became so high in cost xenon was the only way to go.

stevendm
stevendm on April 21, 2009 at 9:54 pm

I consider this projection setup unusual for the late 1970’s because each projector would only hold a double reel of film, running for about 20 minutes. I worked as a projectionist in five theaters in the Beaumont / Port Arthur area and this was the only one that could not hold a large reel (about one hour run time) or platters, which held the entire movie. It was only one of two theaters in the area that used carbon arc lamps, the rest using xenon. BTW, I never could get the carbon arc lamps to stop their slight flickering. I could notice it but I doubt most theater goers could (I bet I will be proven wrong on that statement).

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 21, 2010 at 11:43 pm

If you had those old carbon arcs in theatres with cue marks and change overs there would much fewer complaints about movies today when a trained and usually a union man is in the booth,and not some 17 year old kid trying to figure out how to score with"SUSIE" the candy girl. Right on Norelco.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm

I agree even in the late seventies we ran 20 miniute reels,until we got the bigger reels and could put 3 reels on one and only change over every hour.We also still used carbon arc lamphouses except at the Loews Madison which had xenon bulbs.Xenon was not a bright picture and if the went out they could not be relit as you could with the carbon rods.

jwmovies
jwmovies on September 27, 2012 at 3:55 am

5500 does not map properly. Approx. location for this drive-in was on Memorial Blvd. between Hwy 73 and 60th St. The entrance is still there and you can make out the outlines for both theatres. You can see where the snack bar was also.

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