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On September 30, 1975, an all-female fan club called the Disciples of James Dean meets inside a Woolworth's five-and-dime store in McCarthy, Texas, to honor the twentieth anniversary of the actor's death. The store is 62 miles away from Marfa, where Dean filmed Giant in 1955. Inside, store owner Juanita prepares for another day on the job while swatting flies and listening to the radio, and also calls for Jimmy Dean by name. Meanwhile, one of the Disciples, Sissy, comes in late after helping out at the truck stop; Juanita remarks that more members could arrive at any moment. Another one, Mona, is taking a late bus.
After Sissy worries about the weather ("118 degrees in the shade"), a flashback to a stormy night in 1955 occurs. Coming inside for shelter, Sissy asks about three friends of hers: Mona, Sydney and Joseph Qualley (or "Joe" for short). Joe is busy stocking up some new issues of Photoplay magazine; Mona arrives late due to the weather. To Juanita's chagrin, Sissy, Mona and Joe go up at the counter and begin singing a doo-wop tune called "Sincerely".
Back in 1975, the sun is still shining; another two Disciples, Stella Mae and Edna Louise, make their way to the five-and-dime, bringing a red jacket that the club used to wear. Mona joins them and explains that the bus she was riding on broke down and had to be repaired. Looking at a group picture (with James Dean), she recalls the last time the Disciples, all dressed in jackets, came together. As reunion preparations continue, so does the flashback. (At this point, Sissy's friends joyfully break the news that Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean will be visiting the McCarthy vicinity to film Giant; auditions will be carried out across that area. This only prompts Mona's desires to play alongside Dean, her idol, in that film.) When Mona reveals that Dean chose her to raise his son, Juanita thinks that she is "warped and demented". Mona loses her temper when Sissy badmouths her; the latter goes outside to "cool off".
Mona and Juanita leave the shop for a while, and see a window shopper, Joanne, driving in a Porsche sports car. Joanne has arrived in McCarthy thanks to an old highway sign promoting Dean's son at the store. The Disciples learn that she had a sex change operation almost thirteen years ago, and (as Joe) was the only man in this group. In a flashback, Joe was scorned by town-dwellers after attending a high school dance in drag, and got brutally beaten in a graveyard. Hearing that story, Stella wonders whether Joanne is a hermaphrodite—"half-man, half-woman". Joanne explains she had a sex-change operation 13 years before and is a woman, showing physical proof to several of the friends.
Later in the day, Juanita tells the Disciples to brace themselves for stormy weather, after thinking she hears thunder. Instead, the loud noise comes from a sports car—Mona's son Jimmy Dean has stolen Joanne's car. As Joanne phones the local Highway Patrol to have Jimmy Dean returned, another flashback takes root: they hear the radio announcer reveal that a car accident has killed actor James Dean. They decide to hold a vigil.
Among the other secrets and revelations, Mona announces that she almost died from asthma. She claims she was an extra in Giant. As the reunion winds down, it appears that Jo/Joanne was the father of Mona's never-seen 20-year-old son, Jimmy Dean, who has stolen Joanne's Porsche. The Disciples make a pact to hold another one in the next twenty years. Mona refuses. She, Cissy and Joanne appear in front of the mirrors and sing "Sincerely" again. The film ends with shots of the decaying, abandoned five-and-dime store, while the song fades and the wind blows.
Theatrical : 1983-07-07 : Australia
Theatrical : 1982-11-12 : New York City
Theatrical : 1983-05-04 : Netherlands
Theatrical : 1984-05-11 : Denmark
Theatrical : 1984-09-11 : West Germany
Television : 2006-04-30 : Sweden
2011-10-29 : Austria