6 user 1 critic

Right of Way (1983)

A dying woman and her husband agree to a joint-suicide pact, whether others like it or not.


George Schaefer


Richard Lees, Richard Lees (play)
3 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Bette Davis ... Mini Dwyer
James Stewart ... Teddy Dwyer
Melinda Dillon ... Ruda Dwyer
Priscilla Morrill ... Mrs. Finter
John Harkins ... G. Clayburn
Jacque Lynn Colton Jacque Lynn Colton ... Mrs. Belkin
Louis Schaefer Louis Schaefer ... Kahn
Charles Walker Charles Walker ... Kahn's Assistant
Ismael 'East' Carlo ... Gardener (as East Carlo)
Edith Fields ... Saleswoman
Michael Canavan ... Process Server (as Michael V. Murphy)
Philip Littell Philip Littell ... Cashier
Robert Jayne ... Mrs. Belkin's Son (as Bobby Jacoby)
Jodi Hicks Jodi Hicks ... Mrs. Belkin's Daughter
Erin Karpf Erin Karpf ... Mrs. Belkin's Daughter


Miniature Dwyer is named after her mother, who was making miniature doll houses when Minnie was born. Minnie, too, has built doll houses for years, and when she learns that she is terminally ill, she and her husband Teddy begin planning their joint suicide. She makes sure that her dolls are placed with people who will appreciate and cherish them. The couple refuse to allow their grief-stricken daughter or the solicitous social worker or anyone else to forestall the death they are determined is right for them. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

1 April 1988 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Right of Way See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The main couple's cats are named after movie stars: Bobby De Niro, Pacino, Jimmy Caan and Robert Redford. See more »


Teddy Dwyer: It happens that I am tired... I am tired of my feet and my nails and my hair and my shadow. It happens that I am tired of being a man. I'm tired of living...
See more »

Alternate Versions

HBO reportedly filmed three alternate endings for this made-for-television movie about an elderly couple that wants to end their lives together, and their adult daughter who wants to stop them. In the original scripted ending, the daughter finds the garage sealed and hears the car running inside, but decides not to interfere. She walks into the house, answers a phone, and looks the at the dolls her mother has left behind. In another ending that was filmed, a news crew visits the home and hears the car inside. They break in and the daughter finds here parents in the house being treated by paramedics. The daughter is told they are technically under arrest and the bewildered father is led away by a policeman while his wife is being treated on a couch. In a third version it reportedly is a passerby who notices the fumes coming from the garage rather than a news crew. When originally broadcast on HBO the original ending was used in which the couple died, but the other endings have appeared in other formats and in other markets. See more »

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User Reviews

"On Golden Pond 2"
19 June 2001 | by Aussie StudSee all my reviews

This made-for-TV movie was released hot on the heels of the success of "On Golden Pond" starring two well-respected film veterans, Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda.

This time, it is Bette Davis and Jimmy Stewart and the plot is about an aging couple who want the right to choose their own time of death. The subject of euthanasia has and always will be controversial. When this telemovie was released in the early 80's, the subject matter was very much ahead of its time.

Jimmy Stewarts' performance is rather restrained compared to Bette Davis who has always preferred the limelight when it comes to sharing top billing for a film. It was revealed in Jimmy Stewarts' biography that whilst filming this telemovie, times weren't always easy on the set. Bette Davis usually delayed filming of the project, spending hours in her trailer. When they shared scenes together, Bette Davis did not warm up to any scenes displaying shared physicality or emotion and therefore the outcome portrays her character as being rather hard and bitter.

When I watched the two legends share the screen together, I must admit that I was not convinced that this couple had shared a long life of hardship and love together. Their children try to intervene legally when Bette Davis' character wants to end her life after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. I realize this sounds like yet another plot from an episode of "The Practice" or "Family Law", but you have to realize that this was groundbreaking material for its time.

The outcome of the film is respectable, but unfortunately, I think another actress other than Bette Davis should have been chosen for this role. Kudos to Jimmy Stewart for trying.


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