If These Walls Could Talk

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If These Walls Could Talk
Written bySusan Nanus
I. Marlene King
Nancy Savoca
Earl W. Wallace
Pamela Wallace
Directed byNancy Savoca
StarringDemi Moore
Sissy Spacek
Xander Berkeley
Hedy Burress
Anne Heche
Jada Pinkett
Theme music composerCliff Eidelman
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Cher Demi Moore
Suzanne Todd
Producer(s)Martin Ganz
Doris Kirch
Laura Greenlee
CinematographyEllen Kuras
Bobby Bukowski
John Stanier
Editor(s)Peter Honess
Elena Maganini
Running time97 minutes
Production company(s)HBO NYC Productions
Moving Pictures
DistributorHome Box Office
Original releaseOctober 13, 1996

If These Walls Could Talk is a 1996 made-for-cable film, broadcast on HBO. It follows the plights of three different women and their experiences with abortion. Each of the three stories takes place in the same house, 22 years apart: 1952, 1974, and 1996. All three segments were co-written by Nancy Savoca. Savoca directed the first and second segment while Cher directed the third. The women's experiences in each vignette are designed to demonstrate the popular views of society on the issue in each of the given decades.

Debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival, If These Walls Could Talk became a surprise success and was the highest-rated movie in HBO history.[1] It was nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards and three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Miniseries or Television Film.



The 1952 segment deals with Claire Donnelly, a widowed nurse living in suburban Chicago, who becomes pregnant by her brother-in-law and decides to undergo abortion in order not to hurt her late husband's family. However, abortion at the time is strictly illegal. Claire eventually finds another nurse who provides her the phone number of a woman who can find her someone to perform the abortion. The woman on the phone tells Claire that the only trustworthy abortionist she knows is located in Puerto Rico, and Claire cannot afford the travel costs—with air fare and hotel costs, the total trip would cost about $1000, which is about $9500 in 2018. After a failed attempt to end her pregnancy with a knitting needle, Claire eventually contacts a man who comes to her home and performs a clandestine procedure on her while she lies on top of a kitchen table. Claire finally manages to abort, but dies shortly afterwards due to hemorrhage.


The 1974 segment deals with Barbara Barrows, a struggling and aging mother with four children and a policeman husband who works the night shift, who discovers she must welcome another addition to the family, despite having recently gone back to college. She considers abortion with the support of her teenage daughter but ultimately chooses to keep the child.


The 1996 segment deals with Christine Cullen, a college student who got pregnant by a married professor, decides on an abortion when he breaks up with her and only offers her money. After consulting with her roommate, she makes an appointment with Dr. Beth Thompson. However, the abortion takes place during a violent protest, and an anti-abortion protester walks in on the operation and shoots Dr. Thompson to slowly bleed out and trying to stay alive, as the abortion is incomplete and Christine is still pregnant.


1952 segment:

1974 segment:

1996 segment:


As executive producer, Moore spent seven years trying to get the film made,[2] until the project was eventually greenlit by HBO.[3] HBO vice president Colin Callender said "I don't believe there's a studio in the world that would finance this picture"[3] and praised Moore and Cher for having the courage to use their celebrity to address the issue of abortion.[4] Cher commented "It took someone with Demi's power and fortitude to have something like this made. Without that power, you couldn't do it. These topics are not on everybody's top 10 list of things to do."[3]


A sequel anthology, If These Walls Could Talk 2, aired in 2000. The subject addressed in it was lesbianism.

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ "HBO's 'Walls' Tell Eye-Opening Stories". Santa Rosa Press Democrat. March 5, 2000.
  2. ^ "Demi Moore speaking to reporters at the 1997 Golden Globes". Getty Images. January 19, 1997.
  3. ^ a b c "Abortion film for Cher, Demi Moore". Manila Standard. September 18, 1996.
  4. ^ "Cher, Moore tackle abortion with 'Walls'". Austin-American Statesman. September 16, 1996. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-08-20. Retrieved 2011-07-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]