“Let’s All Go to the Lobby!” A Look at Drive-In Intermission Bumpers
by Steve Habrat
One of the most memorable aspects of the drive-in movie theater is the intermission bumpers that played before or between double features of I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and The Blob. These whimsical little numbers would happily remind moviegoers about all of the delectable treats that waited for them behind the concession counter, and it gave warm warnings about how much time remained before the show got underway. The creative team behind all those dancing hot dogs, marching popcorn bags, and strutting popsicles was Filmack Studios—or Filmack Trailer Company, as it was known at the time—a family-owned that opened its doors in 1919 and remains in operation today. In the 1950s, Filmack sent out a catalogue to drive-in theater owners and operators, reassuring them that they were chock full of ideas that would keep cars parked under the stars, prevent moviegoers from driving off with speakers still attached to their car windows, and have the concession stand lines nice and long. In addition to providing the intermission entertainment, Filmack has also been responsible for giving many individuals their start in the entertainment business, including the king of animation, Walt Disney.
Today, many drive-ins will continue to show these charming little animations between mega-blockbusters like Transformers and The Avengers—offering small little slices of gentle nostalgia to the adults that can remember seeing them with their date back in the good ol’ days, while allowing a younger generation to catch a glimpse of a simpler time. If you’re local drive-in isn’t showing them, you can revisit them on YouTube, where large, fifteen-minute blocks play for your entertainment. If you’re a fan of classic exploitation, you can also find some of these bumpers nestled between trailers for such grindhouse classics as The Devil Within Her and Machine Gun McCain on the cult trailer series 42nd Street Forever. So, in honor of this Drive-in Summer, enjoy a few of these beloved animations. I bet you’ll start craving a hot dog, a soda, and even get the itch to head to the drive-in!
What were your favorite intermission cartoons? And remember, make sure to get out with the family and go to a drive-in theater near you. Make sure to share the experience on Instagram under the hashtag #driveinsummer!
And don’t forget to visit The Droid You’re Looking For for swell vintage drive-in photos!