7.8/10
37,784
291 user 54 critic

Ordinary People (1980)

The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Popularity
3,313 ( 356)

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Won 4 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
...
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Swim Coach
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Karen
...
Joe
...
Ray (as James B. Sikking)
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Sloan
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Ward (as Quinn Redeker)
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Audrey
Meg Mundy ...
Grandmother
Elizabeth Hubbard ...
Ruth
...
Stillman
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Storyline

Beth, Calvin, and their son Conrad are living in the aftermath of the death of the other son. Conrad is overcome by grief and misplaced guilt to the extent of a suicide attempt. He is in therapy. Beth had always preferred his brother and is having difficulty being supportive to Conrad. Calvin is trapped between the two trying to hold the family together. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

some films you watch, others you feel. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 February 1981 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Gente como uno  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$54,800,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The rare movie where the psychiatrist is the hero; and where psychiatry is portrayed as helpful, not harmful. Most movies portray psychiatrists as villainous; witness another major release from 1980, Dressed to Kill, where the psychiatrist is a villainous perverted psychopath. Psychiatrists across the country have praised Ordinary People over the years for presenting a positive and for once flattering portrait of their profession. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the scene at the golf club, Calvin remarks how strange it is that there are no hills in Houston. Chicago and its surrounding area are extremely flat, so it's unlikely that a resident of that area would find lack of hills remarkable. Also, in the background in this scene are some significant hills that seem more scenic than any horizon one might have in Lake Forest. See more »

Quotes

Conrad "Con" Jarrett: It's impossible after all the shit I've pulled.
Dr. Berger: What shit have you pulled?
[pause]
Dr. Berger: Hey, remember, I'm talking proportion here, now what shit?
[pause]
Dr. Berger: C'mon, you must be able to come up with at least one example.
[pause]
Dr. Berger: And don't give me, "I tried to kill myself." That's old turkey.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in QI: Kinky (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden
(1969) (uncredited)
Written by Joe South
Sung a cappella a bit by Judd Hirsch
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User Reviews

 
Stunning insight into a family falling apart.
30 January 2005 | by (CT) – See all my reviews

"Ordinary People" deserved its Oscar. There was such fierce competition in 1980 that winning the award was a real honor. The movie should have shared honors with "Coal Miner's Daughter".

Having said that, the reality of the movie is so heartbreaking and so real that you feel every emotion and understand the characters feelings, whether you liked them or not. Mary Tyler Moore's performance of Beth Jarrett is so powerful that you forget Moore's comedic repertoire and immerse yourself into her persona as a cold, distant wife that can not show emotion for her son. It is disturbing that Beth can not show Conrad love and it breaks your heart when you see the awkwardness as he tries so hard to get any love or recognition from her. Her breakdown scene at the golf course and the realization at the end of the movie that she is incapable of affectionate love are powerful performances.

Donald Sutherland's understated and beautiful performance is brilliant. His making up for Beth's shortcomings as an affectionate human being are so touching. He does all he can to keep the rest of his family together. Why he was not nominated for an Oscar is beyond comprehension.

Timothy Hutton absolutely shines as the troubled Conrad. All you want to do is hug him, love him, after his rejections from his own mother. The torture and pain he is in is portrayed so stunningly. His guilt over the death of his brother and subsequent depression are heartbreaking.

Growing up in suburban America, the film rings many a truth to the insights of what people perceive as a "normal family". The cocktail parties, the school activities, the socialization of Beth and her friends over the recognition of her son do happen in suburban America. Robert Redford recognized every real detail of the facades that people put up and the reality of what happens at home. They are poignantly and chillingly realized.

Definitely one of the most deserved Best Picture Oscars given. Please don't miss this one.


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