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The Pickwick Drive In opened on May 12th, 1949 amid much fanfare and spectacle.
The opening feature was the Marguerite Chapman vehicle 'The Green Promise'. 9 year old co-star Natalie Wood made a personal appearance to sign autographs at the Drive In for this Grand Opening Premiere. Named for the famed stables that surrounded it, the Pickwick Drive In was the last of Burbank's original theaters to cease operation. Since 1980, the Pickwick was Burbank's only movie venue. 

The Pickwick held many other premiers most notably Mel Brook's classic 'Blazing Saddles'. Horses from the nearby stables greeted families and fans as they entered the theater and passed by the screen. The other (ridiculous) premiere was for the Charles Band release of "Assault of the Killer Bimbos" and "Creepazoids' with personal appearances by stars Elizabeth Kaitan and Linnea Quigley and Director's Anita Rosenberg and David DeCoteau. These events aside, the Pickwick Drive In was a wonderful drive in even up until its closing. What memories the Drive in had for me were many.

The Pickwick's Screen just before it burned down in a freak fire. The land was soon cleared to make way for what is now Pavilion's Market.

The first film that I can recall seeing on that aluminum screen was the George Pal production of "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm". Of course at the ripe age of 7, the details of the film and its exact presentation escape me. But I remember sitting up in rap attention during both the 'Cobbler's Elves' and 'The Singing Bone' segments. Watching Buddy Hackett battle the jewel encrusted dragon was as vital a moment of my sense of wonder as anything I had seen before and I can credit that particular sequence (that and Kong's battle with the T-Rex in the original 'King Kong') as leaving me with that love of fantasy.

When I finally got my first car (a notorious Datsun B-210, childishly referred to as the Megalon Mobile), I frequented the beloved Drive In as often as the appropriate double feature would allow. Such wonderful evenings watching (and sometimes re-watching) such glorious cheese as "Inframan", "Fear No Evil", "Friday the 13th", "Lifeforce", and too many others to remember presently. Of course I also view other more mainstream films them, but the drive in for me was a home for horror and necking (and not always in that order).

The Pickwick was one of the remaining theaters that did not convert over to the FM transmission sound system, obviously due to the fact that attendance was dwindling and Burbank's property value was escalating.  The old ozoner finally shut it self down for good around August 30th, 1989. Burbank's new AMC multi-plex became Burbank's only theater then with an amazing 10 full screens of little of interest to see. Movie going in the 80's was a disappointing time. With the closing of this final old soul theater, movie going in Burbank had become almost as ordinary as anywhere else.

The Pickwick will live on in the memories of those who went there and experienced that summer breeze coming from just south of the stables. We'll miss the Pickwick. She was a good hostess and a cool neighbor.


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This site was last updated 07/25/07