Quick Snaps: Flashback to the Burnet Drive-In


Marquee of the Burnet Drive-In, by paramountbooth on Flickr

Maybe you've seen the poster for Quentin Tarantino's mock-exploitation film Death Proof with the words "Burnet Road Drive-In, Austin, Texas" at the top. Well, Austin really did have a Burnet Drive-In, and today we have photographic proof. Paramount Theatre projectionist John Stewart recently posted a few pictures from 1973 to his Flickr account, and generously agreed to let me publish them here.

I can't find much info about the Burnet Drive-In. It was located in the 6400 block of Burnet Road, in the space where Burnet Road Self-Storage is now -- the one with the sign that looks like a movie-theater marquee. Now you know why. The storage facility's website says the theater was built in 1952. By the 1970s, it was featuring titles like the ones above, which look like they'd fit in perfectly at an Alamo Drafthouse Weird Wednesday. (Stewart says they're German soft-core movies.) The drive-in closed a year or two after Stewart's photos were taken. I've got a few more photos after the jump.

Here's the Burnet Drive-In screen, along with a playground that makes me think the theater didn't always show exploitation/soft-core flicks:

Boxoffice and manager's office of the Burnet Drive-In, by paramountbooth on Flickr

And here's the combination box office and manager's office:

Tower and Playground looking North, by paramountbooth on Flickr

If you have any memories or info about the Burnet Drive-In, feel free to post a comment below. I'd love to hear more about this theater that was not far from where I live now.

[Photo credit: "Marquee of the Burnet Drive-In," "Tower and Playground looking North," and "Boxoffice and manager's office of the Burnet Drive-In" by John Stewart (aka Flickr user paramountbooth). Used with permission.]

More Photos of "Lost Austin" Theaters

I wish I were old enough to have enjoyed drive-ins during their heyday; most of them were closed by the time I was in high school, and the remaining ones were showing porn or cinematic masterpieces like Pick-Up Summer.

For more great photos of long-gone Austin theaters, check out CinemaTour (http://www.cinematour.com/theatres/us/TX/2.html).

Burnet Drive in

They didn't always show films like the title on the marquee. I worked there for the regular operator's vacation or sick days. I remember showing Walter Lantz cartoons, Cabaret, Play Misty for Me and other main stream films during the early 70's. I remember specifically one night, while showing PLAY MISTY, the crowd thought the movie was over and left in droves. There was at least 2 reels left to show. Might have been the same night, I was getting the prints ready to ship since it was the last show. The police came busting in wondering why I was in there after hours. Picture me tap dancing.

My Dad built one of the

My Dad built one of the original homes on Twin Oaks Drive (right next to the Drive in). We would get fried chicken from Kirschners Cafe or one of the other local places, pile up pillows and blankets go to the movies for a family fun evening.

I moved here in the early

I moved here in the early 60's and went to the drive-in many times while growing up. They showed lots of different movies and the whole family went there frequently. It was a blast playing on the playground before a movie, getting popcorn and putting the speaker in the window of the car. As a teenager, we would sneak in the hole in the back fence to get in and see movies for free. Saw "The Exorcist" there...green pea soup and all.

Our family moved to Allandale

Our family moved to Allandale in the early '50s. I remember it was a treat when our family went to the Burnet Drive-In. My sister and I could go to the playground without supervision (a no-no today). As I recall they had a small area in front of the concession stand with speakers so you could sit in your lawn chair and and watch the movie. I remember seeing "Lawrence of Arabia" at the Burnet Drive-In.

'60's at Burnet drive in

When I was a first started dating, My Mom said I could go IF I took my four little brothers & sisters with me. Her idea of 'chaperone'. We went to the Burnet drive-in theater and I locked my brothers & sisters out of the car for the duration of movie....with money to buy drinks. They played on the playground, watched the movie. I told them that if they told on me, I wouldn't take them next time. One told so that was the end of that.

Neighbor on Nasco

Our house backs up to the corner of what used to be the Drive-In. Our previous/original homeowners told us stories about the Allandale neighborhood and the building of the Burnet Drive-In. We were told the people living on the east side of Nasco (between White Horse Trail and Twin Oaks) did not want the drive-in to be built. They thought it would be too loud and a nuisance. To appease the neighbors, the owners of the drive-in installed speaker boxes on the back fences of each house. From our house, heading north, every backyard has or had a nice covered patio attached to the back of their house. The patios were in place so people could enjoy the drive-in movies at night in comfort. We have a photo dated 1959 from our backporch, showing the speaker box on the back fence and the Drive-In in the background.
In the past, while gardening "way out back" we have found (buried in the dirt) an old bike lock-maybe from the 70s, an old flashlight-maybe from the 50s/60s, contents of a purse including makeup-maybe from the 60s. We can only imagine that these items were misplaced by patrons of the Drive-In during its heyday.

Looney Tunes Characters

We moved to Allandale in the late 60's and lived on Greenlawn Pwky. I remember large wooden cut-outs of the various Looney Tunes characters that were adjacent to the entry gate. My recollection was that is was still open and showing cheesy movies after 1973, then it sat vacant until the early 80's.

sneaking into the drive in

Wow! The office over the box office would make sneaking into the drive in feel like sneaking into a prison.