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?


Robert Wuhl auditioned for the role of Modell. See more »


In several scenes, Boogie is seen driving his car with the column shift transmission in "Park". See more »


Edward Eddie Simmons: You're dealing with a rational girl; that's your problem.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Features The General Electric College Bowl (1959) See more »


Smokestack Lightning
Written and Performed by Howlin' Wolf
Courtesy of All Platinum Records
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User Reviews

Terrific coming of age story that catapulted several actors to stardom
10 May 2008 | by (Worcester, MA) – See all my reviews

"Diner" is, as several other reviewers have noted, a thinking man's version of "American Graffiti". Its a more substantial and intelligent coming of age tale than that pop culture favorite. Despite being a huge critical hit when originally released, "Diner" seems to become more and more underrated with each passing year. Thats a shame, because its really a terrifically entertaining and well written film. Sure, there's not much of a plot to be had ultimately, but with characters and dialog this fantastic, thats more than acceptable. The film details a group of college buddies moving onto adulthood during the Christmas season in 1959 in Baltimore. It shows that, despite their aging, many of the characters still have a good amount of emotional maturing to do.

Its odd to see so many big stars in this film and realize they were all relatively unknown. Its no big surprise that they all became major Hollywood plays subsequently on the strength of this film, with many of them continuing to be big stars up to this day (Kevin Bacon, Ellen Barkin) and others unfortunately having their career dwindle (Steve Guttenberg and Mickey Rourke until his recent comeback). All of the actors give possibly their best performances in this film. The dialog about seemingly nothing was a big influence on many 90s productions as well, from Tarantino's films to "Seinfeld". Barry Levinson's direction is very good as well, keeping this at a quick pace. The only minor flaw is Mickey Rourke. Rourke is a great actor and does a good job here, but I disliked his sleazy character, and didn't find him sympathetic like the rest of the protagonists. Still, this is a truly great film. Anyone interested in getting into screen writing really needs to see this. (9/10)

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