If These Walls Could Talk

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For the episode of The Outer Limits, see If These Walls Could Talk (The Outer Limits).
If These Walls Could Talk
Written by Susan Nanus
I. Marlene King
Nancy Savoca
Earl W. Wallace
Pamela Wallace
Directed by Nancy Savoca
Starring Demi Moore
Sissy Spacek
Xander Berkeley
Hedy Burress
Anne Heche
Jada Pinkett
Theme music composer Cliff Eidelman
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Demi Moore
Editor(s) Peter Honess
Elena Maganini
Cinematography Ellen Kuras
Bobby Bukowski
John Stanier
Running time 97 minutes
Distributor Home Box Office
Original release October 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 (Demi Moore), a widowed nurse living in suburban Chicago, who becomes pregnant by her brother-in-law (Jason London) 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 (CCH Pounder) 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. 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 (Sissy Spacek), 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 (Hedy Burress) but ultimately chooses to keep the child.


The 1996 segment deals with Christine Cullen (Anne Heche), 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 (Jada Pinkett), she makes an appointment with Dr. Beth Thompson (Cher). However, the abortion takes place during a violent protest, and an anti-abortion protester (Matthew Lillard) walks in on the operation and shoots Dr. Thompson.


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]

  • Emmy Awards
    • Outstanding Made for Television Movie (nomination)
    • Outstanding Editing for a Miniseries or a Special - Single Camera Production (nomination)
    • Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Special (nomination)
  • NAACP Image Awards
    • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Television Movie or Mini-Series – Jada Pinkett Smith (nomination)
  • National Educational Media Network, USA
    • Gold Apple (won)
  • Satellite Awards
    • Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV (nomination)
    • Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV – Cher (nomination)


External links[edit]