All the Right Moves (film)

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All the Right Moves
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichael Chapman
Written byMichael Kane
Produced byStephen Deutsch
CinematographyJan de Bont
Edited byDavid Garfield
Music byDavid Richard Campbell
Lucille Ball Productions
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • October 21, 1983 (1983-10-21)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5.6 million[1]
Box office$17.2 million[2]

All the Right Moves is a 1983 American sports drama film directed by Michael Chapman, and starring Tom Cruise, Craig T. Nelson, Lea Thompson, Chris Penn and Gary Graham. It was filmed on location in Johnstown, Pennsylvania,[3][4][5][6] and Pittsburgh.


Stefen "Stef" Djordjevic is a Serbian American high school defensive back who is gifted in sports and is a B student academically. He is seeking a college football scholarship to escape the economically depressed small Western Pennsylvania town of Ampipe and a dead-end job and life working at the mill, just like his grandfather, father, and his brother Greg. He dreams of becoming an electrical engineer right after he graduates from college. Ampipe is a company town whose economy is dominated by the town's main employer, American Pipe & Steel, a steel mill struggling through the downturn of the early 1980s recession. Stef gets through his days with the love of his girlfriend, Lisa Lietzke, and his strong bond with his teammates.

In the big football game against the undefeated Walnut Heights High School, Ampipe appears headed to win the game, when a fumbled handoff in the closing seconds, along with Stefen's pass interference penalty earlier in the game, lead to Walnut Heights' victory. Following the game, Coach Vern Nickerson lambastes the fumbler in the locker room, telling him he "quit" the game. When Stefen retorts that the coach himself quit, the coach kicks him off the team.

In the aftermath, disgruntled Ampipe fans vandalize Coach Nickerson's house and yard. Stefen is present and is a reluctant participant, but is nonetheless spotted by Nickerson as the vandals flee. From there, Stefen deals with personal battles, including dealing with the coach blackballing him among colleges because of his attitude and participation in the vandalism. Stefen gets in an argument with Lisa, and his best friend Brian declines a scholarship offer to USC and plans to marry his pregnant girlfriend.

Frustrated by what Nickerson did, Stefen angrily confronts his former coach which ends in a shouting match out in the street. Lisa decides to talk to Nickerson's wife to try to help. Nickerson realizes he was wrong for blackballing Stefen. He has accepted a coaching position on the West Coast at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and offers Stefen a full scholarship to play football there, which he accepts.



The film was produced by Stephen Deutsch, with Phillip Goldfarb as co-producer. Gary Morton of Lucille Ball Productions was executive producer. The production was filmed over seven weeks in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the early spring of 1983.[5][8] The recently closed sixty-year-old high school (40°19′18″N 78°55′18″W / 40.3217°N 78.9217°W / 40.3217; -78.9217), the former campus of Greater Johnstown High School, was used as the location of the film, along with Point Stadium.[4] Actress Thompson was inserted as a new student at Ferndale Area High School for three days prior to shooting.[3][5][9] Cruise was similarly inserted into Greater Johnstown High School, but was recognized immediately.[10] (His only notable film part at the time was in Taps in 1981; The Outsiders and Risky Business were yet to be released.)

In 2018, Thompson stated she initially did not want the part, as the script required her to participate in two nude scenes, but Cruise persuaded the producers to drop one of the scenes and was naked with her in the remaining scene.[11]


The film was released to mixed reviews. It has a score of 63% on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 24 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "All the Right Moves is an uncommonly grim coming-of-age drama that overcomes numerous clichés with its realistic approach to its characters and setting."[12] On Metacritic, it has a score of 62 out of 100 based on seven reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[13]

Jay Carr from The Boston Globe stated "Cruise is believable as an athlete,"[citation needed] and Janet Maslin of The New York Times called it "a well-made but sugar-coated working-class fable about a football star."[14] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it 3 out of 4 and wrote: "Two people finally tell each other the truth. This is, of course, an astonishing breakthrough in movies about teenagers, and All the Right Moves deserves it."[15] Locally, Ed Blank of the Pittsburgh Press saw it as flawed, but captured the look of Johnstown,[16] and Marylynn Urucchio of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette rated it as elementary but uplifting.[17]

Among the unfavorable reviews, TV Guide called the movie "cliché-riddled" and criticized director Michael Chapman for not taking any risks.[18] Richard Corliss of Time called it a "naive little movie (that) hopes to prove itself the Flashdance of football."[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ All the Right Moves at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. ^ "All the Right Moves (1983)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
  3. ^ a b Urrichio, Marylynn (April 4, 1983). "Johnstown scores as movie site again". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 21.
  4. ^ a b "Town has illusion". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. March 15, 1983. p. 19.
  5. ^ a b c "Film brings Johnstown temporary aid". New York Times. Associated Press. March 21, 1983. p. A11.
  6. ^ All the Right Moves at the TCM Movie Database
  7. ^ "Yes? -Mrs. Nickerson, my name is Lisa Lietzke quotes". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
  8. ^ Dalton, Terry (March 17, 1983). "Film-making in Pa. turns into a reel moneymaker". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. p. 13.
  9. ^ Scott, Vernon (November 28, 1983). "Actress Lea Thompson goes undercover". UPI. (archives). Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  10. ^ "Johnstown Sees Film As Rescuer". The Palm Beach Post. Associated Press. March 15, 1983. p. A2. Archived from the original on September 30, 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  11. ^ "Lea Thompson Gushes About Her Career, Family, and Making Movies With Her Daughters! (Exclusive)". Closer Weekly. 2018-06-09. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  12. ^ "All the Right Moves". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 16, 2022.
  13. ^ "All the Right Moves". Metacritic. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
  14. ^ Maslin, Janet (October 21, 1983). "Film: 'All the Right Moves' in Football". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 25, 1983). "All the Right Moves". Chicago Sun-Times.
  16. ^ Blank, Ed (October 21, 1983). "'Right Moves' flawed but captures the look of Johnstown". Pittsburgh Press. p. B10.
  17. ^ Urucchio, Marylynn (October 21, 1983). "Acting scores in 'Right Moves'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 27.
  18. ^ "All the Right Moves".
  19. ^ Richard Corliss (1983). "Cinema: Winning Ugly". Time.

External links[edit]