A group of college-age buddies struggle with their imminent passage into adulthood in 1959 Baltimore.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
William 'Billy' Howard (as Timothy Daly)
Kathryn Dowling ...
Jessica James ...
Mrs. Simmons
Colette Blonigan ...
Carol Heathrow
Kelle Kipp ...
John Aquino ...
Richard Pierson ...
David Frazer
Claudia Cron ...
Jane Chisholm


Early twenty-something Baltimoreans Eddie, Shrevie, Boogie, Billy, Fenwick and Modell have been friends since they were kids, where the center of their lives has been and still is the Fells Point Diner. It's the last week of 1959. Baltimore Colts fanatic Eddie is scheduled to get married to Elyse on New Year's Eve, but may call off the wedding if Elyse doesn't pass his Colts quiz which he will hold two days before the scheduled wedding. Inexperienced Eddie turns to the only other married one among the bunch, electronics salesman and music aficionado Shrevie, for advice, he who may not be the best person from who to ask advice on marriage since he doesn't yet realize that he probably got married to his wife Beth for the wrong reasons. Indeed, Beth, who has lost her sense of identity, is unhappy in their marriage, and contemplates having an affair with someone who provides what she believes is a sympathetic shoulder. Hairdresser and law school student Boogie is the player of the bunch, ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What they wanted most wasn't on the menu. See more »


Comedy | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 May 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

American Diner  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)


$14,100,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The answer to one of the College Bowl questions was that the planet Mercury rotates once for every revolution about the sun, which is what astronomers believed in 1959. (In 1965, radar observations showed that the planet actually rotates 3 times for every 2 revolutions of the sun.) See more »


This movie is set in 1959 and it is stated they are watching a Pittsburgh Steelers/Baltimore Colts game. They didn't play each other that year. See more »


Modell: You know what word I'm not comfortable with? Nuance. It's not a real word. Like gesture. Gesture's a real word. With gesture you know where you stand. But nuance? I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits run as we hear another diner conversation between the guys. See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Laserblast (1996) See more »


Goodbye Baby
Performed by Jack Scott
Courtesy of Carlton Record Corporation
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User Reviews

An Oscar!! What's That?
4 February 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Who realized that back in 1982, a film like "Diner" would possess such an extraordinary wealth of talent, both on and off the screen. What was emphasized by this film's director, (Barry Levenson) was the impetuousness with which this movie's actors and actresses had to orchestrate. So often, during the film's production, Barry did not even say "ACTION" to commence a scene. So many times, would Levenson omit the word "CUT" for a scene to conclude. All of these non conventional actions by director, Barry Levenson,were for purposes of manufacturing a tertiary spontaneity from the actors in the movie. Such an auspicious lack of inhibition sparked a natural emotional realism that made the film "Diner" truly unique! Many scenes brought on a free spirited innocence that prevailed back in Baltimore in 1959 (The city and the year that this film was suppose to take place). "The Popcorn Scene" with Mickey Rourke was hysterically funny, as it is indicative of the sordid wiles men will engage in to get the attention of a beautiful woman, especially if it for purposes of impressing his close knit buddies!! "The Piano Scene" was one of the best scenes in any movie I have seen whatsoever!! Tim Daly's piano playing was a mandatory form of entertainment to break up the sedentary monotony of an ossified nightclub! The type of character Steve Guttenberg played was one which was very identifiable to me. I saw myself in Steve Guttenburg's character so many times in the movie, but, particularly in the "Piano Scene". I could envision myself dancing recklessly in dare devil fashion while wearing Shetland wool! This was so Steve Guttenberg's character, and, it was so much like something I might do as well!! This film focused on the bittersweet scenario, pertaining to the peculiar viewpoint by some barely adult men, who had a penchant for believing that an individual's sense of humor should be his single most coveted attribute in the world. Such a mindset purveys the ground-rules of survival being a case of how a human being's sense of humor should be endless, because his egregious flaws as an individual are endless as well!! "Diner" accentuated the necessary dichotomy between social cohesiveness and individuality! Ultimately, the film would bridge the gap with precocious candor. This itemization of quirky concepts accomplished a successfully ambiguous cultural dissemination of adolescent ideas with all the main characters of this movie. The incongruity contained in the conversations with everybody became a capriciously acute element to this film which successfully evoked a superbly unprecedented directorial finesse!! "Diner" did not win the academy award for best movie in 1982. When a movie wins an Oscar for best picture during any given year, it is usually a very good film. When a film manifests a fondness for individual expression by establishing a reality on how people truly are by what they find amusing, with that, emanates the real definition of a comedy. If a movie can accomplish such a feat, then this is an undeniably great film. Without question, the film "Diner' is a movie that may be put into this category!! A bevy of talented people partook in this movie. This box office bonanza of stars comprises of; Mickey Rourke, Steve Guttenberg, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin, Daniel Stern, Kevin Bacon, and Paul Reiser. (Reiser's curiosity with the term, nuance, in this movie, later surfaced itself to reality by way of a production company which was entitled "Nuance Productions" that Paul Reiser was part owner of). Given the fact that so many actors, actresses, directors and producers have 30,000 square foot domiciles in Beverly Hills and on Park Avenue, it becomes rather obvious that money is not always a top priority with them. Ultimately, they realize that the purpose for making a movie is to raise the bar on entertainment standards. This encapsulation concerning man's sanguine flippancy about perpetual failure, which this film, "Diner" illustrated, was totally astounding! More specifically put, an integral facet of movie entertainment is predicated on accurately pinpointing what human nature is truly like. Often times, I have thought that if you only want to see two movies in your entire life, those two films should be "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "Diner". Both movies capture a grass roots recognition of what people's attitudes and instinctive reactions really are. I would give the nod to "Diner" over "Glengarry Glen Ross" because "Diner" illustrates a realism which is portrayed with a far more positive disposition! Such a reality gives "Diner" an enthusiastic identifiability. Attaining a stranglehold on the positive elements of human intuition in a movie like "Diner" is a goal that is so crucial to a film! So much so, that if a director does this, but, he does not win an Oscar for his film, his response should be "SO WHAT!!" The movie "Diner" is a one of a kind gem! "Diner" has achieved the ultimate accolade of being a movie which ignites a humanistic gratification to a near perfect state! This film has artistically conquered an elementary objective for making a movie! Such an accomplishment is what film making is all about, to which, I have only one thing to say, "An Oscar!! What's that?"

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