Dark secrets in the dust bowl, uncovered at the 20th-anniversary reunion of a small-town James Dean fan club. Robert Altman directed this low-budget 1982 adaptation of the play he staged on Broadway, and it's a slow, heavy, trite affair. Presumably, the outworn Albeeisms of the material were enlivened onstage by the tricky double set Altman built, in which the flashbacks took place in an exact mirror duplicate of the main space. But the device is neutralized on film, where a simple dissolve can achieve the same tense-shuffling effect. The casting—Sandy Dennis, Cher, Karen Black—is offbeat without being provocative, though Dennis does good work within the familiar limitations of her mannerisms.
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