No matter how many modern features your car may have, when you pull up to historic The Bengies Drive-In it’s time to turn off the bells and whistles and turn back the clock. Though this Baltimore landmark boasts the biggest silver screen in the country and state-of-the-art Dolby processors that allow guests to pipe a film’s sound through the car’s FM radio, technology will never trump nostalgia at this theater.
On spring and summer weekends, movie goers are greeted with an old-fashioned marquee and a stern list of house rules. No photography. No kids play during the movie (though there is a playground open between shows). No horn honking. No car lights.
When my husband and I arrive for the night’s second feature, we can’t figure out how to darken our car’s automatic running lamps. Luckily, the ticket taker has a few tricks.
“Put it in park, Hon’,” says the friendly lady working the front gate. “Now, pull the parking break up one click. Just one click. Turn your car off. Now turn it back on.”
Just like that, the lights are off. And as the road curves back into a large, open field, just like that, it’s 1956.
Now in its 58th season, the only thing new about Bengie’s is the feature films. Scattered between the minivans and the SUVs a few ’57 Chevys are parked in the lot. In line at the snack bar you expect to see Danny and Sandy on a date. One ticket buys you at least two movies. Every Friday and Saturday there’s a double feature, sometimes a triple. Once the first show begins there is non-stop projection on the giant screen. During 20 minute intermissions between each show classic cartoons and vintage movie trailers play.
The drive-in is perfect for a creative date or family night. If you’re willing to make the 40-mile drive from Washington to Baltimore, upon arriving at Bengie’s you will be taken, instantly, back in time.