Small Sacrifices

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.

Small Sacrifices
Written byAnn Rule (book)
Joyce Eliason
Directed byDavid Greene
StarringFarrah Fawcett
Ryan O'Neal
John Shea
Gordon Clapp
Emily Perkins
Music byPeter Manning Robinson
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Suzanne De Passe
Louis Rudolph
Charles W. Fries
Producer(s)S. Bryan Hickox
CinematographyRon Orieux
Editor(s)Parkie L. Singh (as Parkie Singh)
Running time159 mins
Production company(s)Louis Rudolph Films
Motown Productions
Allarcom Limited
Fries Entertainment
Original networkABC
Original releaseNovember 12, 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. Her eldest daughter Karen was 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 due to the gunshot. In a flashback, her father Wes abandons Diane by abusing her and locking her out of the house. She was eventually tried and convicted of murder and attempted murder. 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.

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.


See also

List of television films produced for American Broadcasting Company


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