|Written by||Ann Rule (book)|
|Directed by||David Greene|
|Music by||Peter Manning Robinson|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producer(s)||Suzanne De Passe|
Charles W. Fries
|Producer(s)||S. Bryan Hickox|
|Editor(s)||Parkie L. Singh (as Parkie Singh)|
|Running time||159 mins|
|Production company(s)||Louis Rudolph Films|
|Original release||November 12, 1989|
Small Sacrifices is a 1989 American made-for-television crime drama film written by Joyce Eliason and based on the best-selling true crime book by Ann Rule of the same name. The film is about Diane Downs and the murder and attempted murder of her three children. It stars Farrah Fawcett, Ryan O'Neal, Gordon Clapp, John Shea and Emily Perkins. The film premiered on ABC on 12 November 1989.
On 19 May 1983 at approximately 10:48 p.m, Diane Downs, drives to McKenzie-Willamette Hospital in Springfield, Oregon with a gunshot wound to her arm. She claims that an unknown assailant attempted to carjack her and shot her three children: Karen, 9, Shauna, 7, and Robby, 3. Shauna is dead on arrival at the hospital. Police eventually discover that Diane shot the children herself.
Her eldest daughter Karen was badly injured, suffering a temporary loss of speech due to a stroke after the shooting, but recovers sufficiently to serve as a witness in court against her mother. Diane's son is paralyzed from the chest down. Downs is diagnosed with three cluster B personality disorders: antisocial, histrionic and narcissistic. She was eventually tried and convicted of murder, attempted murder, and assault. During the trial, the prosecution plays Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" to demonstrate to the jury Diane's choice of song used to motivate her to kill.
The film shows that Downs started a romance with a married man, Lew Lewiston, who did not want children. Downs planned to kill her children to be free to pursue this relationship. He ended the relationship and remained with his wife.
Diane Downs is sentenced to life in prison, and her two surviving children are adopted by the prosecutor Frank Joziak and his wife, Lola.
Differences from book
Downs' children Christie, Cheryl and Danny were renamed Karen, Shauna and Robbie for the film. Her ex-husband, Steve, was renamed Boyd Paul. The prosecutor and his wife who later adopted Christie and Danny were also renamed. In both the book and movie Downs' lover, Robert Knickerbocker, was renamed Lew Lewiston.
- Farrah Fawcett as Diane Downs
- Ryan O'Neal as Lew Lewiston
- Gordon Clapp as Detective Doug Welch
- John Shea as Frank Joziak
- Garry Chalk as Boyd Paul Downs
- Emily Perkins as Karen Downs
- Ken James as Robby Downs
- Sean McCann as Russell Wells
- Lynne Cormack as Lola Joziak
- Maxine Miller as Verla Mae Wells
- Vicki Wauchope as Shauna Downs
- Timothy Sell as The Stranger (Carjacker)