Come Back to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
Dir. Robert Altman. 1982, 109 mins. 35mm print from UNCSA Moving Image Archives. With Cher, Sandy Dennis, Karen Black. A cinematic imagination of Ed Graczyk’s 1976 play, originated on the stage by Altman, this memory-haunted melodrama takes place in a Woolworth’s five-and-dime in Texas, just down the road from where Giant was shot, as the members of a James Dean fan club, the Disciples, reunite after a 20-year hiatus. As Sissy, a tart-tongued waitress, Cher gave a breakout performance even among a remarkable ensemble cast, which included Oscar winners Sandy Dennis and Kathy Bates, and 1970s icon Karen Black. The film deftly blends past and present via a brilliant piece of staging involving a two-way mirror, and proved far ahead of its time in its representation of gender fluidity.