Inside Moves
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Donner
Written byValerie Curtin
Barry Levinson
Based onInside Moves
by Todd Walton
Produced byR.W. Goodwin
Mark M. Tanz
StarringJohn Savage
David Morse
Diana Scarwid
Amy Wright
Tony Burton
CinematographyLászló Kovács
Edited byFrank Morriss
Music byJohn Barry
Distributed byAssociated Film Distribution
Release date
  • December 19, 1980 (1980-12-19)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited States

Inside Moves is a 1980 American drama film directed by Richard Donner.[1] The film is based on the book of the same name by Todd Walton,[2] with a script by then writing duo Valerie Curtin and Barry Levinson.


After a suicide attempt leaves a man named Roary (John Savage) partially crippled, he finds himself living in a rundown house in Oakland, California. He spends a lot of time at a neighborhood bar, which is full of other disabled people, and becomes best friends with Jerry (David Morse), the barman with a bad leg.

Jerry gains the attention and respect from the Golden State Warriors when he scrimmages a player and loses narrowly. After the bar owner suffers a heart attack, a new waitress named Louise (Diana Scarwid) is hired. Roary develops romantic feelings for Louise.

Jerry's luck turns round when one of the professional basketball players lends him the money for an operation to fix his leg. Once he is fully healed, Jerry goes on to become a basketball star, fulfilling his lifelong dream. However, he abandons his old friends by pretending they never existed.

Later, Jerry's old friends begin to resent him for his negligence, Roary visits Jerry and pressures him to visit the bar. Jerry offers up a half-hearted excuse for his absence, and despite Roary's feelings, begins seeing Louise in secret.

Roary finally confronts Jerry about his behaviour, and offers some final thoughts on their friendship, and what the bar and its patrons meant during his recovery. After Roary leaves, Jerry angrily reflects on his past decisions.

Roary reunites with Louise. Jerry returns to the bar and reveals his insecurities to his old friends, who understand right away.

For the first time in twenty-five years Max closes the bar, so everyone can attend Jerry's basketball game.



In his 2006 audio commentary for Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, Donner states that he agreed to direct Inside Moves only to take his mind off of being fired and replaced from Superman II. He referred to Inside Moves as "the smallest film I could do that was just very near and dear to me, at that point, and I felt this is going to take my mind totally off that."

Diana Scarwid's performance as Louise, Roary's girlfriend, earned her a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.[3] The movie also marked the return to the screen by disabled veteran Harold Russell, thirty-four years after his Oscar-winning role in The Best Years of Our Lives.

Donner's biographer James Christie relates how the director confused Cinematographer Kovács with his fellow Hungarian Vilmos Zsigmond, referring to him as "Vilmos" repeatedly. When Zsigmond dropped by the set to visit, Donner had T-shirts made up that read "MY NAME IS NOT LÁSZLÓ" and "MY NAME IS NOT VILMOS" for each of them. Later, they switched shirts and confused everyone.[4]


Emanuel Levy gave it a grade C+.[5]


  1. ^ "Inside Moves". TCM database. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  2. ^ Walton, Todd (1978). Inside Moves. New York City: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-9850355-8-7.
  3. ^ "The 53rd Academy Awards (1981) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
  4. ^ Christie, James (2010). You're the Director...You figure it out. The Life and Films of Richard Donner. BearManor Media. p. 152. ISBN 978-1-59393-527-6.
  5. ^ Emanuel Levy (June 9, 2011). "Inside Moves (1980): Donner's Disability Melodrama, Starring John Savage and Diana Scarwid in Oscar-Nominated Performance | Emanuel Levy".