Picks and Pans Review: Come Back to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

updated 12/20/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/20/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

Robert Altman, who since directing M*A*S*H and Nashville has hardly earned a kind word for his movies, tried a Broadway play last season. When it closed—the reviews were widely hostile—he moved the production to a Manhattan movie studio and made this low-budget screen version on 16-mm film (blown up to 35 mm for theaters) in 19 days. It hardly differs from the play. The trite story revolves around three lonely women in a small Texas town for the 20th reunion of their teenage James Dean fan club. All have secrets, which are revealed as they carouse in the dime store that used to double as their clubhouse. The revelations, however, are alternately boring and unbelievable, and the frequent flashbacks from 1975 to 1955 are disconcerting. The acting, at least, is admirable. Cher reveals herself to be a capable, enthusiastic performer who makes the most of a difficult situation. Sandy Dennis and Karen Black deliver top-notch performances, too. Dennis, of course, is her usual idiosyncratic self, and Black is convincing as the weirdest of the three weird sisters. The question is, what are three nice actresses doing in a film like this? (Not rated)

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