If These Walls Could Talk

If These Walls Could Talk is a 1996 American television 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.

If These Walls Could Talk
DVD cover
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
Shirley Knight
ComposerCliff Eidelman
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producersCher
Demi Moore
Suzanne Todd
ProducersMartin Ganz
Doris Kirch
Laura Greenlee
CinematographyEllen Kuras
Bobby Bukowski
John Stanier
EditorsPeter Honess
Elena Maganini
Running time97 minutes
Production companiesHBO NYC Productions
Moving Pictures
Original networkHBO
Original release
  • October 13, 1996 (1996-10-13)
Followed byIf These Walls Could Talk 2

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, including for Outstanding Television Movie 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 (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 night-shift-working policeman husband, who discovers she is pregnant, 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 pregnant by a married professor, who 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, during the actual abortion, an anti-abortion protester walks in and shoots Dr. Thompson immediately after she completes the procedure. Christine comforts Dr. Thompson as the doctor slowly bleeds out.


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 nominationsEdit


  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 linksEdit