Taglines: A cup of coffee and a side of dreams.
On September 30, 1975, an all-female fan club called the Disciples of James Dean meets inside a Woolworth’s five-and-dime store in McCarthy, Texas,:90 to honor the twentieth anniversary of the actor’s death. The store is 62 miles away from Marfa, where Dean filmed Giant in 1955. Inside, store owner Juanita prepares for another day on the job while listening to Gospel music on the radio, and also calls for Jimmy Dean by name. Meanwhile, one of the Disciples, Sissy, comes in late after helping out at the truck stop; Juanita remarks that more members could arrive soon. Another one, Mona, is taking a late bus.
After Sissy worries about the weather (“118 degrees in the shade”), a flashback to a stormy night in 1955 occurs. Coming inside for shelter, Sissy asks about three friends of hers: Mona, Sydney and Joseph Qualley (or “Joe” for short).:131 Joe is busy stocking up some new issues of Photoplay magazine; Mona arrives late due to the weather. To Juanita’s chagrin, Sissy, Mona and Joe go up at the counter and begin singing the doo-wop tune “Sincerely”, which Juanita opposes, preferring to listen only to Gospel music.
Back in 1975, another two Disciples, Stella Mae and Edna Louise, make their way to the five-and-dime, bringing a red jacket that the club used to wear. Mona joins them and explains that the bus she was riding on broke down and had to be repaired. Looking at a group picture (with James Dean), she recalls the last time the Disciples, all dressed in jackets, came together.
As reunion preparations continue, so does the flashback. (At this point, Sissy’s friends joyfully break the news that Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean will be visiting the McCarthy vicinity to film Giant; auditions will be carried out across that area. This only prompts Mona’s desires to play alongside Dean, her idol, in that film.) When Mona reveals that Dean chose her to raise his son, Juanita thinks that she is “warped and demented”. Mona loses her temper when Sissy badmouths her; the latter goes outside to “cool off”.
Mona and Juanita leave the shop for a while, and see a window shopper, Joanne, driving in a Porsche sports car. Joanne has arrived in McCarthy thanks to an old highway sign promoting Dean’s son at the store. The Disciples learn that she had a sex change operation:91 almost thirteen years ago, and (as Joe) was perceived as the only man in this group. In a flashback, Joanne was scorned by town-dwellers after attending a high school dance in feminine clothing, and got brutally beaten in a graveyard. Hearing that story, Stella wonders whether Joanne is a hermaphrodite—”half-man, half-woman”. Joanne explains she had a sex-change operation 13 years before and is a woman, showing physical proof to several of the friends.
Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean is a 1982 film adaptation of Ed Graczyk’s 1976 play of the same name. The Broadway and screen versions were directed by Robert Altman, and starred Sandy Dennis, Cher, Mark Patton, Karen Black, Sudie Bond and Kathy Bates.
As with the original play, the film version takes place inside a small Woolworth’s five-and-dime store in a small Texas town, where an all-female fan club for actor James Dean reunites in 1975.:130 Through a series of flashbacks, the six members also reveal secrets dating back to 1955.
Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)
Directed by: Robert Altman
Starring: Cher, Karen Black, Sandy Dennis, Sudie Bond, Kathy Bates, Marta Heflin, Mark Patton, Caroline Aaron, Ruth Miller, Gena Ramsel, Dianne Travis
Screenplay by: Ed Graczyk
Production Design by: David Gropman
Cinematography by: Pierre Mignot
Film Editing by: Jason Rosenfield
Costume Design by: Scott Bushnell
Set Decoration by: Stephen Altman
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: November 12, 1982