Now, the open-air movie experience is making a comeback, with a 21st century update as CBS News correspondent Daniel Sieberg reports.
John Young admits he's a movie nerd. On summer weekends, he pulls a film projector out of his motorcycle's sidecar, plugs in an old guitar amplifier, and waits for sunset.
It's what Young calls his "Guerilla Drive-in."
"You're not an audience member so much as you're a participant," he said. "We're 'making' a good time."
Young shows movies on makeshift screens, or the sides of buildings in suburban New York. On a recent night, it was "Back to the Future" for 200 fans - some in costume or driving the movie's signature DeLorean.
Once, there were 4,000 drive-ins where you could sit in your car and enjoy the show. Now there are just under 400 traditional drive-ins.
But at Young's not-quite-official drive-ins, tradition takes a back seat. Just getting a ticket requires an elaborate scavenger hunt.
On his Web site, Young drops clues about the location of a hidden radio transmitter. You then must drive to the area, tune in to the right signal, and decode the secret message.
Only then, are you "in."
"It's like a thousand times more fun than just seeing a movie anywhere else," said Kristin Seidle, a fan of the makeshift drive-ins. "It's elite, kind of. You know, not - not everybody knows about it."
About 2,800 miles away, it's "Top Gun" under the Oakland Bay Bridge. Bryan Kennedy first connected a projector and transmitter to his car battery back in 2005.
"You get the GPS coordinates and you show up and it's just kind of this mystery, and you get there and everyone is watching this movie and you," said Bryan Kennedy, creator of "Mobile Movies." "That's definitely part of the experience."
Back in West Chester, Young says he's not against Netflix, or computer movie downloads.
"But you also want the experience of going out, with people, people that you're talking to and seeing a movie," he said.
Whether Caddyshack at a driving range, or Meatballs at a summer camp, who knew pairing of old-school movies with new-age technology could be so appealing?