Friday, February 12, 2010

The Sunset Drive-In/Las Vegas, NV

This is a baby-step in debuting a new feature of this blog: drive-in theater profiles. First up is the Sunset Drive-In Theater, located on W. Cheyenne Ave, up against Allen Ln.

I grew up in Las Vegas and never attended The Sunset, but I sure went to the Vegas 4 Drive-in (Now known as the West Wind Las Vegas 5) half a dozen times every year. One distinct memory I have is seeing The Sunset's single screen from the Vegas 4, off in the distance, 1.4 miles northwest. It was the only drive-in in Las Vegas never patronized by my family. Watching it sitting there, its screen facing away, I'd always imagine what was playing that night, if anything.

The layout is very basic, compact, single screen at the roadside and the small snackbar/projection booth at the very back. Entrance can be made out on the far southeast corner and the exit on the far southwest corner. No frills. She probably opened in the mid 1960s before closing in the early 1980s after spending her last remaining years as a swap meet.

On Allen Lane, looking west over the field.

On Cheyenne Ave looking over the center/southeastern corner, where the screen and Box office stood.

This here is a picture of the marquee, looking east. Compared to the shot from Cheyenne Ave over looking where the box office and screen stood, notice how empty the horizon is, which is now congealed in residential neighborhoods, far as the eye can see.

After some exhaustive research on the titles of these nudie-sex films (The Immoral Mr. Teas/1959 and Common Law Cabin/1967 are Russ Meyer flicks; Women for Sale is the English title of either a German or Asian film from 1969-70) it's a safe bet this was taken in early 1970-71.  This might explain why we didn't go to this drive-in. In fact, the more I ponder this, The Sunset had the reputation of showing movies you wouldn't otherwise get at a more 'family' drive-in with multiple screens.

From which poured the popcorn and 'porn'.

Looking west-northwest in the direction of where Highway 95 took travelers north towards the Nevada Test Site (where my father and grandfathers worked) and eventually Reno. Probably taken late 60s/early 70s. If you squint real hard you'll see empty flat desert. Not anymore, oh no. An entire city is out there now.

Thanks to Ralph F. Nardoni for the old pics. Boy do they bring back the memories. Go visit him here and enjoy his drive-in/theater site.