Diner (film)

Diner is a 1982 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Barry Levinson. It is Levinson's screen-directing debut, and the first of his tetralogy, "Baltimore Films", set in his hometown during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Tin Men (1987), Avalon (1990), and Liberty Heights (1999) are the other three.[2] It stars Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Paul Reiser, Kevin Bacon, Timothy Daly and Ellen Barkin and was released on March 5, 1982.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byBarry Levinson
Produced byJerry Weintraub
Written byBarry Levinson
Music by
CinematographyPeter Sova
Edited byStu Linder
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • May 7, 1982 (1982-05-07) (US)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5 million
Box office$14.1 million[1]


Set in the northwest section of Baltimore, Maryland during the last week of 1959, Diner tells the story of a circle of male friends, now in their early twenties, who reunite for the wedding of one of their group. The title refers to their late-night hang out, the (fictional) Fell's Point Diner in Baltimore's Fell's Point neighborhood. An element of the story includes the Baltimore Colts playing in the 1959 NFL Championship Game.[3]

The semi-autobiographical film explores the changing relationships among these friends as they become adults through what is mostly a series of vignettes rather than a traditional narrative. Levinson encouraged improvisation among his cast to capture realistic camaraderie.


This was the first credited feature film role for Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin and Paul Reiser.


The film inspired a 1983 CBS television pilot written and directed by Levinson. Mike Binder starred as Eddie, Paul Reiser returned as Modell, Michael Madsen took over as Boogie and James Spader was Fenwick.

Stage adaptation

A stage musical, with the book by Levinson and music by Sheryl Crow is being prepared, with plans for a Broadway production, originally opening in Autumn 2013. Kathleen Marshall is the director and choreographer. A "creative workshop" reading was held in December 2011, directed by Kathleen Marshall. A previously announced premiere at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco in October 2012 to November 2012 was cancelled. Instead, the musical had a staged workshop in New York and then was expected to open on Broadway in April 2013 (since postponed). The producer said, "the producers and creative team of 'Diner' embarked on an exploratory exercise to determine if the show would play as effectively in a theatre with a capacity no larger than 1,100 seats, for which there is greater opportunity. Holding themselves to uncompromising standards they happily discovered that their answer was 'yes'."[4][5][6][7][8]

The musical opened at the Signature Theatre, Arlington, Virginia, in December 2014 through January 2015, with direction and choreography by Kathleen Marshall.[9] Crow said: "And to think we are going to premiere it so close to Baltimore, where the story took place, at Signature Theatre, which has birthed so many new musicals, well, I couldn't be happier."[10] The cast for the Signature premiere included Matthew James Thomas as Fenwick and Derek Klena as Boogie.[11] The musical next is being presented at the Delaware Theatre Company, Wilmington, Delaware, from December 2, 2015 (previews) through December 27, with Matthew James Thomas as Fenwick, Derek Klena as Boogie, Noah Weisberg as Shrevie and Brynn O'Malley as Barbara.[12][13][14]


The film received positive reviews and as of April 2018 has a 92% "Fresh" rating on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes based on 36 reviews.[15] Levinson also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


  1. "Diner (1982)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 2018-03-18. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  2. Levinson, Barry (November 14, 1999). "Barry Levinson: Baltimore, My Baltimore". The New York Times.
  3. Price, S. L. (February 10, 2012). "Much Ado About Nothing". Vanity Fair. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  4. "'Diner Musical Delays" hollywoodreporter.com
  5. Jones, Kenneth. "Musical 'Diner' Will Open on Broadway April 10, 2013, Following Fall Workshop; Expect an Intimate Show" Archived August 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Playbill, August 3, 2012
  6. Bacalzo, Dan. "Sheryl Crow and Barry Levinson's Diner Musical to Debut on Broadway in 2013", TheaterMania.com, March 20, 2012
  7. "'Diner' closer to stage". New York Post. January 11, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
  8. Fleming, M. "Barry Levinson Books Diner For Broadway Bow, Sheryl Crow To Write Music". Deadline.com, September 20, 2011
  9. Staff. "The Verdict: Read Reviews of Sheryl Crow Musical 'Diner'" Playbill, December 29, 2014
  10. Gioia, Michael. "Signature's 25th Season Will Include Sheryl Crow's 'Diner', World Premieres from John Kander, Nick Blaemire and More" Archived 2014-03-19 at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, March 18, 2014
  11. "Signature Theatre Announces Cast for Sheryl Crows 'Diner'" broadwayworld.com, 2014
  12. Hetrick, Adam. "Exclusive: Latest Incarnation of Sheryl Crow Musical 'Diner' Will Star Derek Klena, Matthew James Thomas and Noah Weisberg" Playbill, November 6, 2015
  13. Simoes, Monica. "Onstage Pics! Delaware Theatre Company Serves Up the New Sheryl Crow Musical 'Diner'" playbill.com, December 10, 2015
  14. Marks, Peters. "‘Diner’: Improved, but it still needs more oomph" Washington Post, December 15, 2015
  15. Diner, Movie Reviews. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  16. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
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