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All the Right Moves (1983)

A high school football player desperate for a scholarship and his headstrong coach clash in a dying Pennsylvania steel town.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Brian (as Christopher Penn)
Sandy Faison ...
James A. Baffico ...
Mel Winkler ...
Jess Covington
Walter Briggs ...
George Betor ...
Shadow (as Leon Robinson)
Mouse (as Jonas C. Miller)
Fox (as Keith Ford)


Sensitive study of a headstrong high school football star who dreams of getting out of his small Western Pennsylvania steel town with a football scholarship. His equally ambitious coach aims at a college position, resulting in a clash which could crush the player's dreams. Written by Jerry Milani <jmilani@ix.netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He had a dream but the dream had begun to sour...busting to break out he had to make... See more »


Drama | Romance | Sport


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 October 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

All Right  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The movie was shot on location during the WPIAL (Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League) American football season. See more »


When Stefan signs the contract to play football for Cal Poly in exchange for a full scholarship, Vern Nickerson's name is the only name on the contract and Stefan signs the Notary Public line, with no Notary Public in sight. The "County" on the contract is a correct Pennsylvania county (Cambria) but the contract also says "State of California" when they are obviously in Pennsylvania. See more »


Nickerson: You poured garbage on me, my wife and my little girl.
See more »


Referenced in Take Me Home Tonight (2011) See more »


Easy Street
(First Bar Scene)
Performed by Tony Orlando
Music and Lyrics by Chips Moman and Bobby Emmons
Produced by Chips Moman and Brooks Arthur
See more »

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User Reviews

The Prison Of Expectation
11 January 2016 | by (Sword Of The Protector) – See all my reviews

Spoilers Ahead:

First, this is the best piece of acting Cruise ever did in any movie. I will get to its flaws but you owe it to yourself to watch the movie that made him a star. This and Risky Business are why you are watching him today. Taps was a huge bomb due to its pacifism which did not exactly resonate. He is trapped in a truly Stygian steel town with but one path to education and freedom: football. The other star is the realistic depiction of the pressures of adolescence with his girlfriend, like those of all the other players, wanting to have a family. Not everyone here does well, a few, but Christopher Penn gives a great performance as the dark fate awaiting Stef if he fails. The movie suffers from Zeitgeist incongruence with today's audience not understanding that Penn cannot ask a Catholic girl to have an abortion. Also, while Lisa is kind, not all of the girls are above trapping these none too sharp high school athletes. Why watch it? It will cheer you right up, the distant forgotten pressures of adolescent will be realistically re-visited, trust me, you will feel better about your present life. Besides his academic pressures, Coach Nickerson, who steals the movie, is behind his charges with a whip and a chair. He wants out of this muddy crap-hole also. He also has scouts coming trying to see if he is worth the gamble at a big school.

Craig T. Nelson has always been an excellent actor. He has a brand new family and this attenuates our loathing of him a bit. Truly, though he be cast as the villain, we empathize with anyone living in a town rats would move out of. The other treat here is the sociological term: reflected glory. The poor, entertainment starved residents of this Hell-hole have invested all of their damaged egos in the fortunes of Stef's football team. You hear this every day: 'We won' and 'They Lost.' The existential transference of one's self worth into a sports team. Here, due to the tiny size of the town, lack of other distractions, these poor high school boys now carry the weight of the egos of the whole town upon their shoulders. This adds to the dream of escape that Stef carries throughout the whole movie. Lea Thompson, as Stef's girlfriend Lisa, also has her best performance in this tiny gem. She saves Stef in a very noble, quiet way. It comes without full orchestras or string sections. A small act of self-sacrifice evincing real love for Stef. Be warned, she also does full nudity which may offend parents.

The pressures upon the men, the realistic depictions of in-fighting, the mud bowls that the games resemble, these all add to the verisimilitude. Believe me, this is not like The Great Escape with freshly painted, brand new barracks fresh from Hollywood's production company. Most of the games are played in mud so deep you can barely make out the teams. You will admire the crew for enduring this to make the movie realistic. I see, as usual, its morality decried; I know, today, he would just screw everybody over, lie his ass off and move on. This was made thirty years ago when the country was a bit more moral than today. Its morality is quiet; there are no extended sermons on duty. Lisa is the most moral character in the entire movie; she risks everything showing true love for Stef. Stef doesn't react well to Nickerson dumping buckets of crap on everyone when they lose. He accepts the wrong ride home with some angry boosters who vandalize Nickerson's home. You can guess what happens next.

Do not be misled, the morality comes from actions: Lisa's moral bravery and Nickerson's forgiveness. It is a small, quiet little movie shot in the most horrible of realities. The character you will remember is not Stef but Lisa. Her quiet nobility and love give the movie its moral depth. A Good Movie. Q.E.D.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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