Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Diner (1982)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Diner (1982)

In writer/director Barry Levinson's influential period comedy film and character study of male friendship, it was a classic episodic rites-of-passage film set in the late 50s and centered around a Baltimore, Maryland diner, where six Jewish male buddies in their twenties hung out for six days between Christmas and New Years; the ensemble comedy's taglines expressed the film's theme: "What they wanted most wasn't on the menu" and "Suddenly, life was more than french fries, gravy, and girls"; on a budget of $5 million, it made less than $15 million, and lost its sole Academy Award nomination (Best Original Screenplay):

  • many of the scenes in the film (over an extended Christmas holiday period in 1959) were held at the Fells Point Diner between a group of six post high-school graduate male friends - featuring their many fast-paced, late night, often mindless, guy-talk discussions (with overlapping dialogue, both scripted and improvisational); an approaching marriage for one member of the group brought the confused, struggling, chauvinistic group together at the diner for more eating and drinking, arguing, and talking about sex, sports trivia, the direction of their lives, and 45 rpm records

(l to r): Fenwick and Boogie

(l to r): Wife Beth and Shrevie

(l to r): Modell and Eddie
  • on Christmas night in the film's opening during a Christmas dance, the six guys were introduced (in the order of their appearance): indebted compulsive gambler, aspiring law student at the Univ. of Baltimore and ladies man Robert "Boogie" Sheftell (Mickey Rourke) who worked days in a beauty parlor, irresponsible, troubled, rebellious, and often-drunken rich trust-fund kid and college drop-out Timothy "Fen" Fenwick, Jr. (Kevin Bacon), TV and appliances store clerk Laurence "Shrevie" Schreiber (Daniel Stern) who was unhappily-married to Beth (Ellen Barkin in her screen debut), annoying, rambling and wisecracking Modell (Paul Reiser) and about-to-be-married nervous fiancee Edward "Eddie" Simmons (Steve Guttenberg); a 6th member would be arriving soon
  • while riding in his car, Modell spoke to Eddie about his annoyance with the word "nuance": "You know what word I'm not comfortable with? Nuance. It's not a real word. Like gesture. Gesture's a real word. With gesture you know where you stand. But nuance? I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong"; meanwhile, Beth mentioned to her husband Shrevie that football fanatic Eddie had refused the original yellow and white color motif for his wedding planned on New Years Eve to his fiancee Elyse, and stubbornly insisted on blue and white colors - his team's (Baltimore Colts) colors
  • illustrating how "sick" and crazed he was, Fenwick 'pranked' many of his friends with a faked car accident by flipping his car over and smearing ketchup all over his face to suggest a serious injury; later to his friends at the diner, Fenwick boasted about what happened with his date of the evening Diane (Kelle Kipp) - "All I did was I parked the car on a nice lonely road, I looked at her, and I said: 'F--k or fight'" - and she never wanted to see him again
  • in the first major scene set in the Fells Point Diner later that night, Modell and Eddie intensely and passionately debated about the best make-out music (Frank Sinatra or Johnny Mathis) with the blunt answer from Eddie: "Mathis"; "Shrevie" couldn't answer: "I'm married. We don't make out"; later when "Boogie" was asked the same question by Eddie, he gave a quick reply: "Presley!"
  • during a minor diner argument, the annoying, wise-cracking Modell eyed Eddie's uneaten roast-beef sandwich and hinted: ("You gonna finish that?"); after further discussion with the exasperated Eddie, "Shrevie" was the one who grabbed half of Eddie's sandwich ("Fine, I'll take the sandwich!") and took a bite out of it; meanwhile at another table, "Bagel" (Michael Tucker) offered to cancel Boogie's foolish $2,000 dollar basketball game wager: "You haven't got a pot to piss in," but Boogie declined, and later was upset that he lost his basketball bet and was in deep financial trouble
  • as a preface to the film's most infamous set-piece scene, scheming, hustling, indebted "Boogie" made a late-night, macho movie-theatre wager of $20 bucks with his friends that he could entice a girl on a first date to a certain level of intimacy: ("You wanna bet she goes for my pecker on our first date?"); Shrevie asked for validation: "How? You gonna get - finger prints? I'm tellin' ya, I'm not gonna do the dustin'"
  • in the early morning hours, some of the group of friends met the sixth member of their gang at the train station: Masters in Business graduate student William "Billy" Howard (Timothy Daly) who was on a holiday break; he arrived in town to attend Eddie's New Years Eve marriage to his off-screen fiancee Elyse (to serve as Best Man), and to hook up with his unmarried girlfriend Barbara Kohler (Kathryn Dowling) who worked in the local TV station; Eddie couldn't understand why Billy had kept in touch with Barbara without romantic involvement: "If you want to talk, you always have the guys at the diner. You don't need a girl if you want to talk"; there were lots of discussions with Eddie about his possibly foolhardy rites-of-passage decision to get married; Eddie was casually non-chalant about his choice: "It seems like the right time and all. At least she's not a ballbreaker. Christ. If she was a ballbreaker, there'd be no way"
  • in the town's Strand movie theatre during the evening showing of A Summer Place (1959), with his friends observing from nearby seats, Boogie proceeded to conduct his challenge by creatively using a popcorn box with blonde date Carol Heathrow (Colette Blonigan); he stuck his privates into the bottom of the box to fool her into touching his "pecker" as she reached into the popcorn box in his lap; after she screamed and fled to the theatre's ladies room, "Boogie" followed and claimed "It was an accident," (although she asked: "Your thing just got into a box of popcorn?"); he was able to coax her with smooth-talk into returning by incredulously explaining to her how her beauty gave him a painful "hard on" or "boner" and to loosen things up, he opened his fly and took out his penis and it popped through the bottom flap of the popcorn box
Boogie's (Mickey Rourke) 'Pecker' in Popcorn Box Trick
  • during his visit, Billy paid a short visit to Barbara as she busily oversaw the monitors in Channel 11 WBAL-TV's studio during work; she suggested that they get together on the next day after a Sunday morning church service
  • the same evening, Eddie and Shrevie discussed how marriage had curtailed his sex life: "When you're datin', everything is talkin' about sex, right? Where can we do it? You know, why can't we do it? Are your parents gonna be out so, so we can do it, you know? Tryin' to get a weekend just so that we can do it....Everything is just always talkin' about getting sex. And then planning the wedding. All the details....But then, when you get married, it's crazy, I don't know. You can get it whenever you want it....So all that sex-planning talk is over with. And so is the wedding-planning talk 'cause you're already married....I cannot hold a five-minute conversation with Beth....It's just, we've got nothin' to talk about"; he was contented and they agreed that the diner would always be there for them: "We've always got the diner"
  • at the diner that night, three members of the group (Billy, Eddie and Modell) watched as one of their friends Earl Mager (Mark Margolis) attempted to eat "the whole left side of the menu"; Earl answered in the affirmative when asked if his challenge included the Maryland fried chicken dinner; Eddie and Modell were astonished: "Twenty-two deluxe sandwiches and the fried-chicken dinner! It's not human. He's not a person. He's like a building with feet. You know what I mean? It's unbelievable"; afterwards at dawn, the guys cheered Earl as he drove off in his small Nash Metropolitan
  • others in the group (Fenwick and Shrevie) argued with Boogie about how he had tricked them with his pecker stunt: ("It was pecker-touching without intention"); to counteract their accusations, the completely-broke Boogie bet them $50 dollars that he would "ball" Carol on their next date; the following day, Boogie phoned Shrevie to ask for a loan of $200 to partially cover his gambling debt of $2,000 dollars, and Fenwick also promised to ask his detested brother Howard (Tom Tammi) for money

Equestrienne Jane Chisholm (Claudia Cron)

Barbara's Pregnancy with Billy Revealed
  • at dawn while driving home with Fenwick, womanizer Boogie flirted with a horseback-rider in a white-fenced corral by the side of the road who introduced herself as Jane Chisholm (Claudia Cron) before riding off: ("Jane Chisholm. As in the Chisholm Trail"); Fenwick remarked - a seminal quote of male befuddlement about women: "Do you ever get the feeling there's somethin' goin' on we don't know about?"
  • meanwhile, Billy met up with Barbara on Sunday morning sitting in an empty pew in a church after a service, where she confessed that she was pregnant by him after a one night stand in NY a month earlier, ending their 6-year platonic relationship ("New York was a mistake"); he half-heartedly spoke about loving and marrying her, but she knew their imperfect association was only a friendship: ("You're confusing a friendship with a woman and love. It's not the same")
  • in the "Don't Touch My Records" scene, neglected and under-appreciated wife Beth and exasperated music-obsessed "Shrevie" argued vehemently with each other; the conflict began after Shrevie asked: "Have you been playing my records?"; he complained about her improper filing of one of his treasured LP records according to category, alphabet, and year - she had placed a James Brown record filed under the J's instead of in the Rock n Roll section: ("To top it off, he's in the rock n roll section instead of the R&B section - how can you do it?"); he also went further and criticized her lack of knowledge about Charlie Parker yelling: "Jazz, jazz! He was the greatest jazz saxophone player that ever played!"; "Shrevie" became fanatical: "Every one of my records means something - the label, the producer, the year it was made, who was copying whose styles, who was expanding on that, don't you understand? When I listen to my records they take me back to certain points in my life, OK? Just don't touch my records, ever!"; she was left with tears welling up in her eyes as Shrevie left their row house to take a drive
  • after Boogie arrived at Shrevie's place to collect a promised $20 loan, he realized that Beth was very upset; she sought some consolation from him about her marital problems
  • meanwhile, Billy and Eddie were alerted at a movie theatre during an Ingmar Bergman Festival, featuring the showing of The Seventh Seal (1957, Swe.), and told by Shrevie that their whip-smart triva expert and friend Fenwick was exhibiting highly-crazed behavior; wearing only his underwear, he had drunkenly desecrated the large statues in a Nativity scene outside the city's church by lying inside the manger and refusing to leave; the group of four were arrested and temporarily jailed after the entire display was knocked over and destroyed
  • with his marriage imminent, Eddie nervously expressed his doubts to Boogie about getting married: "Do you think I'm doing the right thing, gettin' married?... I keep thinkin' that I'm gonna be missin' out on things, you know" - and Boogie confirmed his fears: "Yeah, well, that's what marriage is all about"; he was mostly worried that he was technically a virgin; at the same time, Barbara reiterated to Billy at the TV station that in their predicament, they shouldn't marry ("I will not marry you. Not out of convenience")
  • elsewhere outside Boogie's beauty salon, he was threatened by his bookie Tank (John Aquino) to pay his debts, and his financial prospects worsened when his second date with Carol was cancelled due to her contracting flu; Beth arrived and thanked him for helping her the previous night; he complimented her about how great she was when he was her boyfriend years earlier: "There was plenty of girls around for a quick pop. If that's what I wanted. But I got to tell you, you were good...You would rate way up there...You're a definite looker"; the two planned an extra-marital tryst that evening, as she complained that her marriage with Shrevie had caused her to lose her personal identity: ("I don't have any sense of myself anymore. I don't know what I am"); later, although Boogie gave Beth a blonde wig to wear to conceal her identity, he decided it wasn't right and called their date off, plus he suggested: "I think you and Shrevie should try to work out your thing"
  • before his wedding in just two days, momma's boy and football fanatic Eddie required the off-screen Elyse to take a pre-nuptial 140 question trivia test (65 was passing) about the Baltimore Colts pro football team; if she failed, he threatened cancelling the marriage; during the oral test-taking, friends and family members gathered around the basement to keep score where he grilled her; when it was over and Elyse scored 63 points, Eddie announced solemnly: "The marriage is off!"
  • at Eddie's nightclub-bar bachelor party with Billy, Eddie described the first time he awkwardly tried to "cop a feel" of Ruth Ray's teenaged breast; Eddie worried what would happen to his friendships once he was married: 'I'll tell you one thing that happens when you get married. You have to give up your old friends. Because the wife wants you to get new friends"; Billy suggested for the live-band musicians to increase the tempo: "Hey, come on, pick it up, you guys. You guys wanna pick up the beat, or what?"; he took a place at the piano to liven things up, as Eddie joined the go-go dancer/stripper (with a boa) to dance on stage
Eddie's Bachelor Party - Dancing with a Go-Go Dancer
  • meanwhile outside the diner, Boogie was surprised when Tank told him that Bagel had paid his entire debt - and then punched him in the face; inside the diner, Boogie accepted an invitation to work for Bagel's home-improvement business until he "squared off" the money he owed him
  • the next day at dawn, Boogie reintroduced himself to Jane Chisholm for an early morning horseback ride
  • Eddie changed his mind and decided to marry Elyse; the wedding march in the Jewish ceremony was replaced by the Colts' marching song, and the color theme was blue and white; Eddie and his unseen bride Elyse at the altar were pronounced husband and wife
  • by now, Beth and Shrevie had solved their differences - Shrevie was planning 10 days for them in the summer in the Poconos; Fenwick brought Diane as his date to the celebration who suggested that he travel around the US instead of Europe (FLASH); Eddie danced with his mother who promised to make him when he came home (FLASH), while Boogie brought Jane who called him 'Bobby' instead of 'Boogie' (FLASH); and a reconciled Billy and Barbara danced slowly together (a FLASH of white - Elyse's wedding dress) [Note: Each of the couples experience a flash-bulb FLASH - signifying an important turning point for the future]

Elyse's Wedding Bouquet Thrown Onto a Table

The 'Diner' Group of Males Seated Behind the Table
  • in the concluding scene at Eddie's and bride Elyse's wedding, Modell toasted Eddie's friendship with a memorable light-hearted speech: ("...I was thinking that now that Eddie's getting married, and he won't really be hanging out with the guys anymore, I just wanted to say that we were never really that crazy about you....I don't know if everybody knows what Elyse had to go through to get married. She was two points away from spending the rest of her life by herself. It was very - it was a sad thing. And now she knows more about football than most girls in America.... I thought it was out of line when Eddie asked the Rabbi to wear black and white stripes and a whistle. That was wrong...")
  • as part of the ceremony, the newlywed tossed her wedding bouquet into the air - after an uncertain trajectory, it landed on the table in front of the Diner guys - in disbelief; the iconic image of their freeze-framed full-color pose turned to sepia and then black and white; it signified that they were on the cusp of marriage, adulthood and real responsibility
  • during the end credits, the guys were heard talking in a rambling conversation at the diner - still 'forever' and symbolically-married friends, with Shrevie's last line in voice-over: "Now we're older and we're cooler and we're still hanging out here"

Fenwick's Faked Car Injury

At the diner - (l to r): Eddie (Steve Guttenberg) and 'Shrevie' (Daniel Stern)

(l to r): Fenwick (Kevin Bacon) and Modell (Paul Reiser)

Always in Debt "Boogie" (Mickey Rourke)

Business School Graduate Student "Billy" Howard (Timothy Daly)

Boogie to Carol: "It was an accident"

Carol: "Your thing just got into a box of popcorn?"

Billy's Friend Barbara Working at WBAL-TV Studio

Shrevie's Monologue to Eddie About How Marriage Ruined Conversation and His Sex Life with His Wife Beth

Earl's Attempt to Eat All Items on Left Side of Menu

"Shrevie" Complaining to Wife Beth About His Precious, Mixed Up and Miscategorized LP Record Collection

Upset Beth Explaining Her Marital Problems to Boogie

Drunken Fenwick in the Nativity Scene's Manger

Beth and Boogie Contemplating a Tryst Together

The Result of the Football Trivia Quiz for His Fiancee Elyse -- Eddie: "The marriage is off!"

Billy with Eddie at his Bachelor Party in a Strip Club-Bar

Boogie Horseback Riding with Jane Chisholm

Eddie at the Altar With His Unseen Bride


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z