Tuesday, January 19, 2016

First Timer: Mark Patton in Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

As part of Halloween week last fall, I devoted a day to the sequel to Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy's Revenge. While researching images and info for that piece, I was fascinated to read some stories surrounding the making of the movie and the lasting impact it had on the film's lead, actor Mark Patton.

I loved Mark in the film, not because his performance was perfect, but because he was portraying a character rarely seen on the big screen, especially in a teen horror flick. There are many examples of tortured teens on television and in movies, but Mark's portrayal of Jesse was both ahead of it's time, and so purposely layered, it wasn't until long after the film's release that people appreciated what a beautifully unique film Freddy's Revenge actually was.

I was surprised recently to catch Mark in his first role in 1982's Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. I had heard of the movie before, mostly because it was Cher's first major acting role, but wasn't until a recent airing on TCM, that I DVR'd and watched. What an incredible film. Like Freddy's Revenge, the movie is flawed for sure, but story and emotions were deep, and maybe even current given the cultural transitions of the past couple of years.

Cher was great, but Sandy Dennis put in the films most powerfully interesting performance. Karen Black and a young and fun Kathy Bates were also solid in their roles. I also loved seeing actress Sudie Bond, who I had not seen in anything other than her memorable role in Silkwood, also made with Cher the following year. Mark Patton's Joe, although only seen in flashbacks, was heartbreaking and core to the unfolding of the story. In just a few small scenes, many just hovering in the background, Mark set a beautiful tone, laying the groundwork, while not revealing where the story, and the character would end up.

I had to do some Goggling and was interested in reading the movie was first a play written by Ed Graczyk, with the films cast, complete and intact from it's short Broadway run. How great to see director Robert Altman, keep the entire cast together, not bringing in any huge stars to replace the talented stage actors in their roles. Altman shares he considered bringing in another actress, but saw quickly the rhythm was off when the any one of of the original actors wasn't in place.

I won't share the movie's secrets, and maybe for many, they weren't that well hidden. But for me, even when I knew, I wasn't sure I knew or whether the audience were being taken somewhere, only to be then taken somewhere else. It was nice to Patton outside of the Nightmare dome that has blanketed so much of his career, especially in a role so worthy of his talent, and his presence.

Patton & Karen Black

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