Pike Drive-In

1864 Hartford Avenue,
Johnston, RI 02919

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Kendjr on May 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm

David, it was the Pike that had the train, it ran around the bottom of the screen, Earl Clancy managed that place before he went to the Shipyard, he mentioned it had the train years ago, the pike’s final season was 1969, in the summer of 1970 a few of us from the shipyard had to dismantle it and remove all the sound and projection equipment, we moved the equipment to both the Shipyard and the seekonk where it was stored.I believe the reason for the closing of both the rt44 and the pike was due to a new freeway being built, hope this helps, Ken- Arizona

Dchad46 on April 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I also remembered going to a small amusement park on rt 6 near an apple orchard , it had a river boat ride and go carts , I think it was near what is now sunset orchards. Gerald , If you go to Drive-ins.com you will see some of my posts (seekonk Dreive-in) and I am also on Crescent Park website as well. I also made some contributions to the Rocky Point film (you must be this tall) Do you remember one of our local Drive-ins that had a mini train ride around the outer parimiter ?

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 10, 2012 at 4:39 pm

No,unfortunately I don’t know of any.

Dchad46 on April 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Mr. DeLuca < do you know of any photos of this drive-in.

I am from Killingly st and I remember going to this theater, I had remembered some kind of a train ride there as well.

drivinman on July 17, 2011 at 7:30 pm

drivein.com states this drive in was closed in 1968.The land transaction may have occured then.but the last movie was closer to 1970.I recall going to my brothers johnston high school graduation in june of 1969.afterwards he and his friends went to howard johnsons to eat (now a cvs drugstore at the intersection of hartford and atwood.then to the pike.he also recalls it being open the following year before closing along with the rt 44 in smithfield a mile or two away.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 20, 2010 at 5:05 am

“Johnston Pike Airer Closed by Council"
Article in Boxoffice magazine, April 20, 1964:
View link

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 15, 2010 at 12:07 pm

As the HiWay Open Air Theatre, the place had lasted only three months in 1949 after being opened by Anthony Petrucci. The theatre was then sold and would become the Pike Drive-In, as described in my previous entry, after some modifications and revamping.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 12, 2010 at 3:59 am

from Boxoffice Magazine, August 19, 1950:

“Old Hiway Auto Park Now Is Pike Drive-In

“PROVIDENCE – George Card, long identified with the amusement park business, has been named manager of the new Pike Drive-In located on the Hartford Pike at Johnston, three miles west of this city. Operated by Albert M. Schuman and Louis D. Rogow of Hartford, the new drive-in is on the site formerly occupied by the old Hiway Auto Theatre.

“Very little remains of the old open-airer. Schuman and Rogow practically revamped the place from top to bottom. A new screen has been erected and Century projectors were installed by the Massachusetts Theatre Equipment Co. of Boston, along with in-car speakers.

“Parking facilities for close to 600 cars will be increased as soon as all remodeling and building is completed. As patrons drive in under a new overhead sign, which cost approximately $3,000, they are greeted by side walls beautifully decorated with scenic paintings. The surrounding grounds have been newly landscaped. Among other innovations is a cafeteria-style snack bar.

“The theatre has already been opend to the public, but workmen and painters are continuing the improvement program.”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on March 8, 2008 at 10:55 am

In 1963 you could see this double bill of dubbed Italian films, both actually considered very good. They were: On Any Street / La notte brava, Mauro Bolognini, from material by Pier Paolo Pasolini & Mill of the Stone People / Mill of the Stone Women / Il mulino delle donne di pietra, Giorgio Ferroni, 1960. Sexy Elsa Martinelli was a considerable draw at the time.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 13, 2005 at 3:24 am

In May of 1968 the Pike was showing the immortal Mondo Freudo & The Festival Girls.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 28, 2005 at 2:50 am

In 1965 the Pike was embroiled in censorship problems with the Town of Johnston, acting upon audience complaints about some of the movies that had been shown. The films that provoked an inquiry by Mayor Mario R. aRussillo were the showings of two particular films, Three Nuts in Search of a Bolt with Mamie van Doren and Promises! Promises! with Jayne Mansfield. Theatre manager Alfred Cipriano maintained there was “nothing dirty” about the movies there. Police chief Vincent Acciardo was asked whether he could censor movies shown at the Pike Drive-In. “We’re going to clamp down on them if they sneak a film in on us that is unfavorable,” the chief said, as reported in the Providence Journal of April 14, 1965.

On April 17th a Journal editorial opined, “Living in a democracy presupposes a considerable leniency in free expression in movies, books and plays. It also presupposes that people will try to become informed enough to protect heir own sensibilities instead of running off to find a censor every time they are shocked.”

Much the same would occur in the 1970s when the Johnston Cinema, further down Hartford Avenue and closer to the town hall, began to show hard-core pornography.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 22, 2005 at 12:02 pm

Vesti la giubba!!!
An opera at a drive-in? Are you kidding? No, signore! The Pike showed Pagliacci on May 23 & 24 of 1951. This version starred Gina Lollobrigida and Tito Gobbi. An accompanying featurette was great bass-baritone Ezio Pinza in Rehearsal . The program was promoted in the R.I. Italian-American weekly “The Italian Echo” with an Italian-language ad.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on May 4, 2005 at 10:45 am

At one point the Pike was known as “Highway Open Air Theatre.”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on February 16, 2005 at 4:35 am

I think I visited this place once or twice in my youth but am not positive. I certainly drove by it often enough. It is located just up the road from the former Jerry Lewis Cinema/Johnston Cinema, which is now an Amazing Express porno shop. I’m looking now at a newspaper ad for the Pike dating back to May, 1963 when they were showing an odd double-bill of Italian films (dubbed in English.) The program was “Rice Girl” with Elsa Martinelli, in the tradition of the earlier “Bitter Rice,” and “Fatal Desire” with Anthony Quinn. “Fatal Desire” was actually “Cavalleria Rusticana,” famed as an opera by Pietro Mascagni.

The come-on was “2 explosive motion pictures – 1 big show!” For “Rice Girl” we read: “Pietro worshipped her…Mario wanted her…Gianni took her.” For “Fatal Desire” it says, “There is a special kind of payment for ‘borrowing’ another man’s wife. As a fan of Italian cinema I’m only familiar with "Rice Girl” and have never seen “Fatal Desire.” It is interesting that a program of imported films like this would make the rounds of drive-ins and exploitation houses of the time. Both are pretty hard to see today. The distributor was Ultra Pictures.