Summer nights: the US drive-in cinemas still packing ‘em in

Grab a soda and a pizza, and watch under the stars. After decades of decline, this slice of quintessential Americana is making a minor comeback

D Edward Vogel was eight when he first worked on the popcorn stand at Bengies, his family’s drive-in cinema in Middle River, Maryland. “I was a bit of a show for people,” he said, now 50 years on and a third-generation drive-in proprietor. “I had to stand on a soda-pop case to put the popcorn in the machine. But I knew the number one rule of any movie theatre: don’t let the popcorn burn!”

Bengies was designed by Vogel’s father; state-of-the-art in 1956, it still boasts the largest projection screen in the US. The red-and-blue art-deco sign atop the marquee and the Formica tables are all original. It’s a self-described “real-live, honest-to-God, all-American, drive-in movie theatre.” It is also the last of its kind in the state of Maryland.

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