32 user 7 critic

If These Walls Could Talk (1996)

The movie examines the abortion issue through three stories set in different eras: 1952, 1974 and 1996.


Cher, Nancy Savoca


Pamela Wallace (story), Earl W. Wallace (story) | 7 more credits »
Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. Another 4 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Demi Moore ... Claire Donnelly (segment "1952")
Shirley Knight ... Mary Donnelly (segment "1952")
Catherine Keener ... Becky Donnelly (segment "1952")
Jason London ... Kevin Donnelly (segment "1952")
CCH Pounder ... Nurse Jenny Ford (segment "1952")
Kevin Cooney ... Dr. Kramer (segment "1952")
Robin Gammell ... Jim Donnelly (segment "1952")
Phyllis Lyons ... Audrey (segment "1952")
Aaron Lustig ... Tom (segment "1952")
Dena Burton ... Young Nurse (segment "1952")
Marie DeCicco Marie DeCicco ... Nurse Annie Ross (segment "1952")
Lorna Scott ... Louise (segment "1952")
Mary Portser ... Margaret (segment "1952")
Annie Weldon Annie Weldon ... Nurse (segment "1952")
Vaughn Armstrong ... Painter (segment "1952")


A trilogy of stories set in the same house, but with different occupants and spanning over 40 years, deals with various women and moral crisis over unexpected pregnancies and their choice of abortion. In 1952, when abortion was illegal, a nurse deals with her unexpected pregnancy and takes drastic measures to get one. In 1974 a family housewife with four children discovers that she's pregnant and decides she can't handle another child to raise. In 1996, a pregnant college student decides on an abortion, but doesn't realize the means to go through to get one. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


There's one question only a woman can answer See more »


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for realistic depiction of abortions, a graphic shooting and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

13 October 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

If These Walls Could Talk See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby (Dolby Surround)


Color (DeLuxe) (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film takes place in 1952, 1974 and 1996. See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK video version was cut by 3 secs to reduce multiple gunshots during the hospital shooting scene. See more »


Referenced in Round the Twist: If the Walls Could Talk (2000) See more »


I'll Know
Written by Frank Loesser
Performed by Sarah Vaughan
See more »

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User Reviews

Changing Times, intimate decisions, and the four walls that hold their secrets. There's one question only a woman can answer. This is the most powerful TV movie you will ever see.
29 April 2004 | by Old JoeSee all my reviews

I have a strong opinion on the issue being show in the 1996 TV movie, `If These Walls Could Talk', which is about abortion. This film presents the issue in 3 different generations and shows what the attitudes and dilemmas are when it comes to a woman choosing and/or having an abortion. Is abortion the right choice for a woman who is pregnant? I am not so sure it is.

Here is a film with three powerful, intimate stories of abortion and how times and freedoms have changed. A recently widowed nurse struggles to take control of her life in the early '50s. A mother of four is overwhelmed by trying to raise a family and maintain a career in the '70s. While a young student makes a decision with the help of one woman that will change the course of both their lives in the '90s. These women, living in the same house at different times, share one thing in common, the decision they must come to on how to deal with an unplanned pregnancy. Have an abortion or keep the child they have growing inside them alive?

This film was very well directed by two women. The 1952 and 1974 segments of the story were directed by Nancy Savoca. I especially like the way that she goes inside the lives of the people that we meet. Then directing the 1996 story is Cher (who also stars in the film). Now considering what we see happen in this part of the story, especially to Cher's character, the way Cher directed it was most skilful and praiseworthy.

The stories that are presented in this film are very well balanced and written. Each story goes on in the same house over that time. Yet the feelings towards the issue of abortion change from each generation. The 50's it is frowned upon, the 70's it is more accepted, and by the 1990's, while it is still protested, it is commonly practise by women.

Each different story has a main character that it focuses on, with their views on abortion and how far they will or will not go being very interesting. What is also interesting are the different characters we meet in the stories, as they present a different view on how they feel about abortion, another good aspect to the story. The stories for this movie were written by Pamela & Earl Wallace and Nancy Savoca (1952), Susan Nanus and Nancy Savoca (1974), with the final story by I. Marlene King (1996).

Playing roles in this film must have been difficult for all the actresses involved. The 1952 story has a widow nurse, Claire Donnelly (played by executive producer Demi Moore) who we find out is pregnant, but do not understand the circumstances for how she got that way. The lengths that she goes to fix her problems certainly are disturbing, with the finale to her story very distressing.

Then the 1974 story shows mother, Barbara Barrows (Sissy Spacek), with four children, in a somewhat dysfunctional family. She is a college student and has found out she is pregnant. We are shown that she is unsure of what she wants to do. She wants to continue with her studies, but also wants the child. Her daughter Linda (Hedy Burress), is a girl who states to her mother, ‘do you think this baby would have a good life, if its mother resents it even being there?' saying that abortion is the only sensible option.

Finally we have the 1996 story. Here we meet Christine Cullen (a very young Anne Héche in a fine role), a girl who has had relationship with a college professor and is pregnant from that relationship. With Christine we see that she is torn apart by being pregnant and with the decision to have an abortion. She lives with Patti (Jada Pinkett Smith), a girl who strongly opposes abortion, but considers other options as better for the child's life.

This part of the story also goes inside an abortion clinic. Here we meet many caring people. Dr Beth Thompson (Cher) is the doctor who does the abortion procedure, while other carers make the time pass, as easy as possible for the patient. Cher's part in the film is truly amazing to say the least. The finale to the ‘1996' story haunted me the first time I saw it, and after recently seeing it a second time, had a similar effect. I believe it is showing what a divided issue that abortion creates in the public arena, with the result of the actions of certain people not helping to resolve the issue, but just making it worse.

While it would be naïve of me to not accept that abortion is a legal option for a pregnant woman, married or unmarried in the western world, I am afraid I cannot agree with abortion, as someone is physical killing a human ‘life'. Men and women consent to having sex whenever they feel like they want it, but most do not consider the consequence of that action, which in most cases ends up in a pregnancy, an unwanted one at that. By killing it, you give the ‘life' created no choice in wanting to stay alive or not. I believe God is the only one who has the right to abort a child.

This film puts my life in perspective. I do not want to have sex outside of wedlock, or have to go through the painful (and wrong decision in my view) of looking at abortion as a way of covering up any mistake. That is all abortion does. I also know that God would look down upon me for making that decision. ‘If These Walls Could Talk' might be a TV movie, but it is a film that we all can learn from. Please confront this most controversial of issues in a great movie, just Iike I have.

CMRS gives ‘If These Walls Could Talk': 4.5 (Very Good – Brilliant Movie)

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