Tired of her dull job as a waitress, Donna decides to join two carnival hustlers and see what life in their field is like.


Robert Kaylor


Phoebe Kaylor (story), Robert Kaylor (story) (as Robbie Kaylor) | 2 more credits »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Gary Busey ... Frankie
Jodie Foster ... Donna
Robbie Robertson ... Patch
Meg Foster ... Gerta
Kenneth McMillan ... Heavy St. John
Elisha Cook Jr. ... On-Your-Mark
Tim Thomerson ... Doubles
Teddy Wilson ... Nails (as Theodore Wilson)
John Lehne John Lehne ... Skeet
Bill McKinney ... Marvin Dill
Bert Remsen ... Delno Baptiste
Woodrow Parfrey ... W. C. Hannon
Alan H. Braunstein Alan H. Braunstein ... Willie Mae (as Alan Braunstein)
Tina Andrews ... Sugaree
Craig Wasson ... Mickey


A carnival comes to a small town. Eighteen year old Donna meets Frankie and Patch, two carnival hustlers. They earn their living by mercilessly taunting spectators to try to dump one of them into the water by throwing balls. Donna is tired of her work as a waitress and follows them through the South. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Where love is just another sucker's game. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Orion was initially interested in producing this movie. See more »


In the truck stop, Donna says, "Money walks, BS talks". This is backwards, though not sure if it may be intentional or not. See more »


Donna: If I had the money for a bus ticket I'd leave right now.
See more »


Referenced in At the Movies: Guilty Pleasures - 1987 (1987) See more »

User Reviews

Prime Jodie Foster....
22 August 1999 | by Mister-6See all my reviews

This may not be a familiar title to many, but for me, "Carny" marks a major turning point in the career of Jodie Foster.

In "Carny", she plays a regular young woman who is lured by the excitement of the midway into becoming one of the regular carnival members or, as the title calls them, a carny.

This is basically a story about carnival life, the nomadic existance of the carnies and the eventual maturing of Foster's character by this new way of life. Watching her adjustments, both easy and difficult, make it easy to see why she received more difficult roles after this.

Robbie Robertson, leader of The Band, plays a fellow carny and love interest for Foster. He is all cool assurance and strong emotional center, both of which are things Foster's character is looking for. It's a wonder Robertson hasn't been in more movies since.

Gary Busey, in a performance that is both humorous and borderline psychotic, plays a dunk tank clown that forever taunts patrons, both in and out of the cage. He is also involved with Foster, and finds himself at odds with Robertson over her attentions.

If there's one problem with this film it's that it is too brief. More likely than not a filming decision but see it yourself and see if you don't agree.

Eight stars.

Now, "Carny" is a movie that DESERVES a sequel.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 23 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

23 May 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Carny See more »

Filming Locations:

Savannah, Georgia, USA


Box Office


$5,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lorimar Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed