Saturday, November 28, 2020

Weekend Movie Fun: The Freshman (1925) at the Hollywood Legion Theater Drive-In

Tonight I did something I haven't done since the last night of the Noir City Hollywood Festival on March 11, 2020 -- I went to a movie!

The occasion was a screening of Harold Lloyd's THE FRESHMAN (1925), sponsored by Retroformat Silent Films at the new Hollywood Legion Post 43 Drive-In Theater. Post 43, located on Highland Avenue, is pictured above, as seen from the parking lot entrance.

The drive-in theater is set up in the parking lot behind the Post 43 building. Spots are chosen in advance based on car size, and arrival times for the 30 cars are staggered to help with parking.

As cars enter (above), passengers select candy and soda preferences off signs, to be delivered to the car after parking. There is plenty of assistance directing cars to maneuver into their spots.

Here's a reverse look towards the entrance from our parking space. Cliff Retallick, who provided live musical accompaniment, was stationed on the back of a pickup truck at the right of the photo. (Click on any photo to enlarge it for a closer look.)

We were told it was one of the first times that a silent movie had been shown at a drive-in with live accompaniment, and it was believed to be the first time ever it had happened in Hollywood, heart of the movie industry. Cliff Retallick, seen below, always does an amazing job improvising his scores, and tonight was no exception.

Our concession delivery arrived in a sturdy cardboard box:

Unlimited popcorn refills are available during the first half hour or so of the movie. Just scan the QR code on your phone and more popcorn will be delivered. It's magic!

Upon arrival you also receive a little light you can turn on and set on your dashboard if you need help; those were placed in a basket as we left.

Here's the projection booth at the back of the lot. Both picture and sound (through an FM channel on our car radio) were excellent! As I mentioned in a recent link round-up, the American Legion is now raising funds to install 35mm projectors in the booth along with the current digital system, which will greatly expand the drive-in screening options.

A coming attraction I sure wish I could see:

Harold Lloyd's granddaughter Suzanne had been scheduled to host the screening but unfortunately had an issue arise which prevented her from attending. Though that was too bad, I'm fortunate to have seen her speak several times in the past, and the movie, which I first reviewed here in 2014, was terrific.

It was my husband's first time to see the film start to finish, and though we couldn't hear the laughter of numerous friends scattered throughout the parking lot, there was such a joyous vibe watching a movie among fellow classic film fans for the first time in months! When the movie ended everyone flashed their headlights as the means of applauding Cliff Retallick.

There was definitely a surreal element to it all; I don't recall going to a drive-in since the handful I attended when I was very young, in the late '60s or possibly the early '70s. If you'd told me a year ago that attending a drive-in movie would be a highlight of my year, well...I'd never have believed it. But that's 2020 for you!

I mean, this came up on my phone navigation system at some point after we entered L.A. County...what a year.

Fortunately drive-in screenings are not impacted by L.A. County's new round of lockdowns, as long as they're over before the curfew goes into effect.

Seeing Harold Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston on the big drive-in screen with Cliff Retallick's live music was an absolutely wonderful experience, and we hope to attend more drive-in screenings at Post 43 in the future.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Thanks for sharing the experience. It sounds strange and wonderful. An evening with all the feels, which is how I describe The Freshman.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's a perfect description, it was very unusual but also very fun. Definitely emotional!

I'm glad you enjoyed hearing about it, thanks for your note!

Best wishes,

12:30 PM  
Blogger dfordoom said...

I have a weird thing with silent movies. I really like them but I just can't watch them with a musical accompaniment. When I watch a silent movie on DVD I have to turn the sound down to zero. I know, it's just weird. The music distracts me too much.

6:04 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Interesting, I haven't heard that one before! In my case, seeing the silents with live music is one of the things which helped make me a fan.

I'm sympathetic, though, as I've had a weird silent movie quirk myself, in that it took me a long time to warm up to silents because I'm a super-fast reader and would get impatient with the length of time the narrative cards are on screen. Basically I've read one the minute it hits the screen and am ready to move on. Happily I've now moved past that issue -- in part thanks to artists like Harold Lloyd who used them sparingly *or* had some really delightful cards I enjoyed. As time has gone on I've come to appreciate silent movies so much that I've become more patient with the cards and don't think about the timing issue much anymore.

Best wishes,

10:37 PM  

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