Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
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41 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Stunning emotional drama and an American classic

Author: Vince-5 from northeastern PA
15 May 2001

Character studies don't come any better than this offbeat look at small-town self-delusion. Robert Altman, best known for sweeping epics like Nashville, shows us that even on a smaller physical scale he is an original, highly inventive director. The low-budget production uses 16-millimeter photography and a single set to create a desolate, lonely atmosphere that mirrors the characters' hidden emotional turmoil. Although we only glimpse a tiny portion through the store window, we get a perfect feel for the dusty isolation of dying McCarthy, Texas. Five and Dime also contains hidden elements of symbolism that you may not notice at first but add another layer to the brilliance of the film.

Still, as with any play, it's all about the acting. And here, the acting is impeccable, especially that of top-billed stars Sandy Dennis, Cher, and Karen Black. Dennis is Mona, the stubbornly (and dangerously) romantic leader of the Disciples; Cher is Sissy, the blowsy sex symbol with a painful secret; and Black is Joanne, a mysterious "stranger" who cracks everyone's delusions. All three are terrific and should have received more recognition for their roles herein. Great support is provided by the Marta Heflin, the delightful Kathy Bates, and Sudie Bond as the shrill, bigoted owner of the Woolworth's.

This is not a film for everyone. There is no action, by the traditional definition. But this examination fantasy and reality, how life is and how we would like it to be, is a haunting exercise in acting, direction, and emotional involvement.

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25 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

"Back to the 5 & Dime," BLOWS.. ME.. AWAY!!!

Author: jimgo3 from Michigan, USA
31 March 2005

This movie "spoke" to me. Every song, every scene and every line, had relevance for me.

The topics covered in "5 & Dime," are varied, and some are gut-wrenching! All of the character's dialogue, wonderfully written, and impeccably performed, by the great cast. Every character had an interesting story to tell.

The first time I saw it, I believe crazy Mona, and gender bender Joanne, stood out the most. Repeated viewings revealed more and more, each time I saw it.

The store keeper Juanita, who lied to herself, - loudmouth airhead Stella, - mousy Edna Louise, - sexy Sissy, and the very tragic Joe; were all just marvelous characters, and perfectly portrayed by the actors.

If you find one or two characters in a movie, intriguing, you've done well. This one is loaded with them!

After several viewings, I have come to the conclusion that Cher is actually the one that carries this movie. She's the spark plug.

Cher as Sissy, flaunting her big bazooms, and trying to laugh, while tears are welling up in her eyes, performs a masterful piece of acting. It looked real! That is just one of many examples, of her talent.

She didn't stand out much in my first viewing, but she is truly a fine actress, and I believe this is her best work.

I don't know who to credit for the manner in which the "flashbacks" were performed, but they were unique and extremely enjoyable to me.

I cannot praise this film enough, but it's not for everyone. I believe it did poorly at the box office, not really a surprise, with no car chases, nudity or even profanity in it.

Years ago, I raved about the movie to a friend of mine. The next time I saw him, he smiled and said, "You got me good!" He thought I had tricked him. He rented the movie and turned it off half way through! haha Oh well...

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19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:


Author: caarot from Sydney, Australia
18 October 1999

Although I saw this film many years ago, and I have seen it only once, the memories are still strong and I often think back to the feelings and thoughts it thrust upon me. Too few movies I have seen in my life stay with me very long...this on one that has.

I am not sure if this was written a stage play. The fact that it only has one location suggests that it was. The characters are complex and have so much depth that I am almost sure it was. They have not been written as characters to be placed over a story, they are the story.

I saw this movie late one night. Maybe I was tired. Maybe I was on a low. Maybe I was open to suggestion. Who knows? But. When I saw this movie, it stirred so many feelings within me, opened up my mind to so many thoughts and questioned so many things not only in my life but in the world in general that it could not have just passed without making it's mark.

If you like to watch movies that make you truly 'think' and which take you inside them...sometime to places you do not wish to go, then I whole heartedly recommend this one.

Take something away with you from this one and the world will be a better place....and you will be a better person.

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30 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Excellent - Wonderful - Fabulous

Author: Poochie from San Francisco
29 November 1998

I LOVE THIS MOVIE. Every actor is perfect. Karen Black totally rules, though. There isn't a thing about this film I would change. I watch it over and over and never tire of it. It's like an old friend.

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

A good film with interesting characters

Author: Sean P.O'Neill from Bellport, New York
21 December 2003

I love Robert Altman films. Why? Because they always tell real human stories. This is no exception. The cast is excellent. Especially Sandy Dennis and Cher. The story of three girls and a friend who reunite in their small town . With Sandy Dennis recollection of how things were being quite different from the other girls. It is excellent. It is soft and sad in a way. The ending, with the same location 10 years after looking old and forgotten. Which holds true for any place at a given time. I wish I could find it on video or D.V.D. One of Robert Altman's best.

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Compelling, memorable film

Author: McGonigle from bean world, massachusetts
10 February 2003

I remember when this film came out... I was an Altman fan then but I could never convince any of my friends to go see this with me (I was in high school at the time). Twenty years later I finally catch it on Bravo, and found it well worth the wait (and boy am I glad I popped a tape in to record it).

The acting in this film is superb, as is the direction (as you'd expect). Altman has taken a stage play that takes place on a single set and brought it to the screen in a way that manages to preserve the theatrical ideosyncracies (e.g., the actresses don't change their appearance, or even their outfits in some cases, in flashbacks to twenty years earlier) while still being masterfully "cinematic" in the way Altman composes his images.

If anything, the Achilles' heel of this movie is its script, which appears to be taken verbatim from the original stage play. There were times, especially towards the beginning of the movie, when it seemed somewhat awkward, but in a way that probably wouldn't seem as out-of-place in a play. I guess that's why they call it "stagy". But still, it's a minor complaint, and the great acting and compelling story more than make up for it. Overall I give this movie an 8/10.

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16 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Altman storytelling at his most sublime

Author: Space Oddity_2001
28 July 2000

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean is from Altmans most maligned period. His play adaptations don't quite get the recognition like his other works. Jimmy Dean shows Altman at his most disciplined and stands out as one of Altmans most inventive works. Exuding a feel of claustrophobia, the story takes place entirely in a five & dime store in some obscure Texas town. Four women played by Sandy Dennis, Cher, Marta Heflin and Kathy Bateshave come together for a twenty year reunion of a James Dean fan club they made when James Dean was filming Giant in a nearby town. As the story unfolds some startling revelations are brought to light as they discuss secrets and painful memories during the period when they had the James Dean fan club. Karen Black's character who shows up in the latter part of the film is an integral part of the story and Sandy Dennis' supposed relationship with James Dean, but I won't divulge that. Highly recommended.

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13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A Great Film! Not on DVD!

Author: James Helberg from United States
20 December 2004

"Come Back To The Five And Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" (1982) Is simply one of the greatest American films ever made! Now that is just my opinion! I've found that people either really love this film or they really hate it! I think people who hate it actually, don't understand it. It's not an average "Hollywood" movie! Director, Robert Altman did many things visually that had never been done to tell a story on film. The actors were allowed to deliver monologues in one take without several cuts or done in voice-over as a flashback is seen. I won't go into the story of the film. However, I would like to go into why the film is not on DVD (and VHS has become extinct) the truth is I can't figure out a reason. The film marks future Oscar winner (1987 - "Moonstruck") Cher's first important dramatic role (Cher includes a clip from it on the film montage portion of her concert) Launched future Oscar winner (1990 - "Misery") Kathy Bates' film career. Featured standout performances from Oscar winner Sandy Dennis (1966 - "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf") and Oscar nominee Karen Black (1970 - "Five Easy Pieces") Plus a talented and outstanding supporting cast Directed by the incomparable Robert Altman! The film was produced by Viacom who now owns Paramount! Why is this film sitting in a vault? Only to be removed for an annual showing on the Bravo Network! Even if Paramount just puts the movie on disc without any extras (which is what they do with most of their titles) there are enough people who know of this film that will purchase it. Especially at a low price under $20 (again, like most Paramount titles) All I can say is that there is much more from keeping this title from being released than I can even guess! My hope is that one day all issues will be resolved and we will have this beautiful film preserved on DVD for all to enjoy! All of us who love it that it!

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Many hidden or not so hidden messages

Author: sproe from United States
5 June 2005

I see something different every time I see this movie. What starts out seeming to be a very simplistic movie about James Dean fans is really more about what we believe in and how difficult it sometimes is to get beyond "false fronts".

Cher is excellent and the rest of the cast do a credible job of allowing us to see different viewpoints through different characters. Marta Heflin as Edna Louise probably has the most to offer in the way of "the moral to the story". Sudie Bond as Juanita has some of the best lines delivered in an excellent "why me" voice.

Things are not the way they seem in any of the characters lives with one exception.

Don't just watch this movie once. Watch it again and again and pick up something more each time.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A Minor Exercise with Some Touching Moments

Author: jzappa from Cincinnati, OH, United States
2 May 2011

The critique of social institutions and the portrayal of social outsiders remain Altman's central preoccupations in one of his more minor, less genuine attempts to revise our sense of American history by subverting some of its most trenchant myths. He's definitely better with a cast of hundreds, painting broad pictures of their complex interactions and entanglements by inventively using overlapping sound and dialogue, documentary realism and improvisation than he is with a cast of only a handful, each taking turns to ramble on with romantic soliloquys while the rest look on. This was made no clearer than in the embarrassing dud he shot next, Streamers. But there are some touching moments and themes in this obsessively nostalgic period piece about flashbacks, memories and disabused denial about the past, though they arguably have less to do with the substance on the screen than with Altman's tenacious devotion to the project. This first of numerous play adaptations by post-Hollywood Altman in the '80s comes to pass within a petite retail variety store in parched McCarthy, Texas, where a James Dean fan club reunites in 1975. The movie flits between then and 1955, the year Dean died, as the six members divulge skeletons in the cupboard hearkening back to then. The store is not far from where the great Dean film Giant was shot that year.

Those there are an unhinged Sandy Dennis, who leaped at the opportunity to be an extra when Giant was on location and who, nine months later, gave birth to a son she maintains is Dean's. She's taken the late bus. Then there's Cher, the acerbic five-and-dime waitress, who boasts relentlessly about the size of her breasts. She shows up late after lending a hand at the truck stop. And Karen Black, whose skeleton in the closet is the film's biggest culminating beat. The others who float in and out of the story are the newly well-heeled oil wife Kathy Bates, supplying ironic echoes of Liz Taylor in the epic movie playing such a pivotal role in the plot; crushingly meek woman Marta Heflin, now pregnant for the umpteenth time; Mark Patton, who prefers the fashion wear of the opposite sex, and Sudie Bond, who runs the joint. She opens the film by preparing for yet another day on the job, swatting flies and listening to gospel hymns on the radio, and also calls after young Jimmy Dean by name.

What Altman does with his ensemble is emphasize the script's relationship between the repression of women and male-dominated society's fear of sexual variation and gender uncertainty. The film's one male character to appear is implicitly, and sensitively, viewed as feminine, rather than the archetypally effeminate, woman-identified, and gay. The film also implies, in one of its most creative and penetrating story elements, that he's become something much more socially unacceptable for the reason that his social order had no place for a gay man.

The film is otherwise little if not distended with surprises that seem like they came from a very heartfelt writer's legal pad. As the women largely rotate, literally, going at each other in monologue prose, spoken in deep-Texas country drawl, we learn of emotionally demanding surgeries and the difficult realities of Dennis' eponymous son. Altman is extraordinarily efficient at keeping things moving, even when you're unsure whether you're watching something occurring in 1975 or 1955.

What makes this minor exercise noteworthy is that Altman shot it in 16 mm, and made do with merely 800 large on the whole project. Altman continually employs mirrors as a way to connect scenes like a dream between the present and the past. Manifestations in mirrors are part of the film's various frame compositions. The effect was seamlessly accomplished with a double set with two-way mirrors controlled by computerized lighting techniques. They become a window into 1955, allowing the characters to stare into the past, until that's what it all is, punctuated by hypnotically poignant shots of the decaying, abandoned five-and-dime store, while the song fades and the wind blows.

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