ALPINE - Fans of the ‘80s film “Fandango” made the trek to West Texas for one last Ultimate Fandango experience to celebrate the beloved movie’s 35th anniversary.
The road trip movie of five college friends including Judd Nelson, from The Breakfast Club fame, Sam Robards, and a young Kevin Costner, was filmed in Far West Texas including Marfa, Alpine, Pecos, Marathon and Big Bend State Park. Ultimate Fandango, co-sponsored by ultimate fan and organizer Jeffery Brookings and Alpine Visitors Center, took people to the different landmarks featured in the film, including Monahans Sand Hills, Pecos Parachute School and Sonic for three chili dogs and a malt in Alpine.
The group of fans, affectively called “Groovers” as the friends were called in the movie, have taken this trip in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2015.
Other actors, Chuck Bush, who played the silent, but friendly giant Dorman; Marvin J. McIntyre, who played Truman Sparks, the quirky parachute instructor; Brian Cesak, who played lush Lester Griffin; and Robyn Rose, who played a local girl named Lorna, joined the trip and shared behindthe- scenes stories as they visited each place and also before a free screening of the film Thursday night at Rangra Theater.
Bush and Cesak were living in Austin when they were cast in their roles. Cesak was procrastinating from studying for a mid-term when he picked up a copy of the University of Texas student paper and saw the casting call. He rushed over to audition, got the role and told his professors he was quitting school to be in the movie. He never took that midterm.
Bush, on the other hand, didn’t exactly seek out the role. “First of all before he does this, just imagine you’re an actor in Los Angeles or New York,” said McIntyre. “You’ve been trying for years to get your career started and you hear this story.”
Bush walked into a 7-11 convenient store after a Huey Lewis and the News concert to buy a diet caffeine-free Pepsi and a bag of crunchy Cheetos. Film director Kevin Reynolds and his assistant Mark Illsley happened to be leaving the store when they saw him and wondered if he could play Dorman, who they had yet to cast.
So Illsley turned around and asked Bush if he wanted to be in a movie. Bush auditioned and got the role.
McIntyre was in Reynold’s original short film “Proof” that later became “Fandango.” It was director Steven Spielberg who saw Proof and instigated the full-length. According to IMDB though, Spielberg was unhappy with the final result and removed his name from the film.
When the film premiered, it was only shown on five screens for a week in Dallas, Toronto and New York before it was shelved.
It was given a second chance with more theater distributions but didn’t fare well either. It wasn’t until the movie was shown on the Lifetime movie channel that helped gain its cult following.
“For some reason, that nobody understands ,that movie became very popular on that,” said McIntyre.
Bush got emotional when he was asked what it was like to work with the late Glenne Headly. Headly, who played McIntyre’s “old lady” died from complications from a pulmonary embolism last year.
“I’ve said this several times, but as far as I’m concerned, Glenne was the most talented person on the movie,” said McIntyre. “If you pay attention to what she’s doing, you’ll see what they mean when they say, you can do a lot by doing very little. She’s just really good. Nothing wasted. Nothing unnecessary and the hardest thing to do is to do nothing. Just watch. She was really good.”
“We love us some Glenne Headly. Rest in peace, baby,” said Bush.
Before the lights went off, McIntyre read a thank you note from Reynolds, who was unable to make the screening.
“Know that your lasting fondness for ‘Fandango’ validates it in a way no reviews or box offices ever could. It is as much your movie as ours,” read Reynolds’ note.
Bush surprised the audience with an audio message from Costner, who was also unable to make the trip.
In the message, Costner thinks back on that time of filming the movie and remembers it was “really, really golden” for him.
“It didn’t take off around the world,” said Costner. “It didn’t even take off around America, but the people who found it understood what it meant and took it to heart. And some of you took it so far, it somehow spoke to you in a way that was probably unexplainable, and that’s the power of movies. It always been the power of movies.”
He knew “Fandango” was always special and thinks of it as one of the real highlights of his career.
“Fandango was a highlight for me and will always will be,” said Costner. “So I wish you all well tonight. Wish I could be there, but one last time, right? How about a Fandango!”
And with that, the lights went dark and the movie started rolling.