Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
By Ed Graczyk
Directed by Wade Hair
Starring Marcie Schwalm, Kate Murray, Jac Ledoux, and Kristen Pringle Marksbury
Winter Park FL
Memories are fugitive, and we can bend them to our will. In 1953 hot star James Dean went to Marfa, Texas to shoot the exteriors for his last movie “Giant.” This was a big deal, and fans flocked to catch a glimpse of him. Mona (Schwalm) and Joe (Joshua Huff) took the trip; they spent the night sitting on the porch of the mansion set. Things happen, and nine months later the famous Dean was dead and Mona claiming her son was Dean’s. Who could argue? It’s a sin, but a famous one. As the years went by, the town dried up and Mona’s memories solidified. A twenty reunion is called, and all those who escaped return to the roost. There’s wealthy Stella May (Cindy Sherden), the jilted Sissy (Pringle-Marksbury), the hyper-fertile Edna Mae (Ashly Messer) and finally, a greatly changed Joe, now Joanne (Murray). And they brought booze, which upsets their host Juanita (LeDoux). It’s not just the weather that’s dry.
It takes a while to learn the lay of the land; Murray’s Joanne seems vaguely familiar to them, and she has the biggest backstory of the crew. Stella Mae married oil, Edna Mae breed the next generation of oil field hands and Juanita is stuck in their dried-out town. But Joanne has a fast Porsche and a plan to save the boy Mona calls retarded. Mona’s childhood flashbacks come from a junior shadow cast, with events warped and distorted to her internal memory box. These childhood dreams are busted and torn, just like their old James Dean fan club regalia. Murray threads the needle of her complex role neatly, and I felt a wave of triumph when the tea totaling Juanita did some shots. Better to sin openly than disapprove others insincerely. Josh Huff gave a wrenching performance as the young man confused by all these hormones. He also made the wisest decision in the end: get as far away from hell as you can, and only revisit with at least one alternate exit stagey.
This script isn’t often performed and author not well known, but this script became a movie that did well. It’s a hurricane shorten run for this fine cast, and the arid heat of the west Texas ghost town hangs thick in the air. This was nice piece of drama that should have had a longer run.