IMDb > Ordinary People (1980)
Ordinary People
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Ordinary People (1980) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
7.9/10   30,003 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
Judith Guest (based on the novel by)
Alvin Sargent (screenplay)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Ordinary People on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
27 February 1981 (Australia) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
some films you watch, others you feel. See more »
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Won 4 Oscars. Another 20 wins & 9 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Beautiful script, characters, and flawless filmmaking. A movie not to forget. **** (out of four) See more (272 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Donald Sutherland ... Calvin

Mary Tyler Moore ... Beth

Judd Hirsch ... Berger

Timothy Hutton ... Conrad

M. Emmet Walsh ... Swim Coach

Elizabeth McGovern ... Jeannine

Dinah Manoff ... Karen

Fredric Lehne ... Joe

James Sikking ... Ray (as James B. Sikking)

Basil Hoffman ... Sloan
Quinn K. Redeker ... Ward (as Quinn Redeker)

Mariclare Costello ... Audrey
Meg Mundy ... Grandmother
Elizabeth Hubbard ... Ruth

Adam Baldwin ... Stillman
Richard Whiting ... Grandfather
Scott Doebler ... Buck
Carl DiTomasso ... Van Buren
Tim Clarke ... Truan
Ken Dishner ... Genthe
Lisa Smyth ... Gail
Ann Eggert ... Mitzi
Randall Robbins ... Bryce
Cynthia Baker ... Ms. Mellon (as Cynthia Baker Johnson)
John Stimpson ... John
Liz Kinney ... Liz
Steven Hirsch ... Mack (as Steve Hirsch)
Rudy Hornish ... Ed
Clarissa Downey ... Chris
Cynthia Burke ... Annie
Jane Alderman ... Linda
Paul Preston ... Dennis
Gustave Lachenauer ... Gus
Marilyn Rockafellow ... Sarah
Don Billett ... Philip
Ronald Solomon ... Joel
Virginia Long ... Choir Director
Paula Segal ... Shopper
Estelle Meyers ... Saleslady
Stuart Shiff ... Waiter
Rose Wool ... Waitress
Douglas Kinney ... Actor
Constance Addington ... Actress
Edwin Bederman ... McDonald's Manager
Bobby Coyne ... Young Buck
Michael Creadon ... Young Conrad
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Allison Caine ... Additional Voice (uncredited)
Randy De Troit ... Man on Bridge (uncredited)

Michael T. Weiss ... Extra (uncredited)

Directed by
Robert Redford 
 
Writing credits
Judith Guest (based on the novel by)

Alvin Sargent (screenplay)

Nancy Dowd  uncredited

Produced by
Ronald L. Schwary .... producer
 
Cinematography by
John Bailey (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Jeff Kanew (edited by)
 
Casting by
Penny Perry 
 
Art Direction by
Phillip Bennett 
J. Michael Riva 
 
Set Decoration by
William B. Fosser (set decorators) (as William Fosser)
Jerry Wunderlich (set decorators)
 
Costume Design by
Bernie Pollack (costumes designed by)
 
Makeup Department
Joel Israel .... hairstylist: Ms. Moore
Gary Liddiard .... makeup artist
Jean Burt Reilly .... hairstylist (as Jean Burke Reilly)
Kathe Swanson .... hairstylist
 
Production Management
Ronald L. Schwary .... unit production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Michael Britton .... second assistant director (as Michael L. Britton)
Steve Perry .... first assistant director (as Steven H. Perry)
Tom Seidman .... dga trainee
 
Art Department
Donald R. Abblett .... standby painter (as Donald Abblett)
Edward Aiona .... property master (as Eddie Aiona)
Richard Boris .... greensman
Herman Lowers .... construction coordinator (as Herman O. Lowers)
Willie Marceau .... head carpenter
William Powley .... construction painter
Chuck Stein .... construction foreman (as Charles J. Stein)
 
Sound Department
Kathleen Korth .... assistant sound editor (as Kathy Korth)
Gregg Landaker .... re-recording mixer
Steve Maslow .... re-recording mixer
Kay Rose .... supervising sound editor
Jerry Rosenthal .... sound editor (as Gerald Rosenthal)
Victoria Rose Sampson .... sound editor (as Victoria Sampson)
Kenneth Schwarz .... boom man (as Kenny Schwarz)
Bill Varney .... re-recording mixer
Charles M. Wilborn .... sound mixer (as Charles Wilborn)
John S. Coffey .... sound mixer: second unit (uncredited)
Ken Dufva .... foley artist (uncredited)
Harry Keramidas .... dialogue editor (uncredited)
Donald C. Rogers .... technical director of sound (uncredited)
 
Stunts
Richard Epper .... stunt double (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
John D. Crededio .... gaffer: Chicago (as John Credidio)
James Glennon .... camera operator
Clyde Hart .... key grip
Tommy Magglos .... second assistant cameraman
Robert McLain .... key grip: Chicago (as Bob McLean)
Ronald W. McLeish .... gaffer (as Ronald W. McLeisch)
Lou Noto .... first assistant cameraman (as Louis Noto)
Marcia Reed .... still photographer
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Robert M. Moore .... wardrobe: men (as Robert Moore)
Rita Salazar .... wardrobe: women
 
Editorial Department
Jay Friedkin .... apprentice editor
Carol Ann Jackson .... assistant editor
Marilyn Madderom .... assistant editor
Kathy Orloff .... apprentice editor
 
Music Department
Scott Grusin .... assistant music editor
Marvin Hamlisch .... music adaptor
Jack Hayes .... orchestrator
Dan Wallin .... music scoring mixer
Larry Blank .... choral conductor (uncredited)
 
Transportation Department
James Hogan .... co-captain: Chicago (as James P. Hogan)
Michael McDuffee .... transportation captain (as Mike McDuffee)
Gerald R. Molen .... transportation coordinator (as Jerry Molen)
 
Other crew
Jack Hirshberg .... unit publicist
Mary Cay Hollander .... production coordinator
Patrick Markey .... location manager
Patricia Matzdorff .... secretary: to Mr. Schwary
Robbie Miller .... secretary: Mr. Redford (as Robbi Miller)
Robbie Miller .... secretary: to Mr. Redford (as Robbi Miller)
Patricia Newcomb .... publicity consultant
Phill Norman .... title design
Grant Olson .... craft service
Dennis Park .... assistant accountant
Julie Pitkanen .... script supervisor
Teresa Skinner .... associate: Wildwood
Bob Waits .... assistant: to Mr. Sutherland
Rusty Warren .... production accountant
 
Crew verified as complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
124 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Robert Redford decided to do the film because the story's family reminded him of his own in the way it talked around issues.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: When Karen and Conrad at the restaurant, the straw in Karen hands starts unwrapped, then becomes wrapped, and then suddenly jumps into the Coke.See more »
Quotes:
Conrad "Con" Jarrett:Anyway.
Jeannine:Hm, what?
Conrad "Con" Jarrett:Oh just anyway. It's a conversation starter.
Jeannine:Hm, catchy.
Conrad "Con" Jarrett:I knew you'd like it, I've been working on it all day.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
(I Never Promised You A) Rose GardenSee more »

FAQ

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66 out of 83 people found the following review useful.
Beautiful script, characters, and flawless filmmaking. A movie not to forget. **** (out of four), 29 May 2001



As an aspiring screenwriter myself, I envy Alvin Sargent, the mastermind behind the script of the Academy Award winning 1980 drama "Ordinary People." Based on the equally as heartbreaking novel by Judith Guest, "Ordinary People" flawlessly captures all aspects of great cinema. The scenes have the perfect timing; the performances are vividly descriptive and entirely convincing; the direction is efficacious and focused. The filmmaker's never pretend that this movie is easy to watch, but they sure do produce an emotional and mental response from the viewer.

"Ordinary People" launched Timothy Hutton's career, rewarding him with an Oscar. It's too bad his career as an actor seems to be traveling downhill. Although his award was for best actor in a supporting role, he is truly the center of the movie. Hutton plays Conrad Jarrett, the son of Calvin (Donald Sutherland) and Beth (Mary Tyler Moore). The Jarretts are recovering over various recent disasters. They lost their first born son to an accident, for which Conrad blames himself. His grief eventually provokes a failed suicide attempt.

As the movie opens, we meet the family. We never witness Conrad's suicide attempt, the preceding family death, nor do we see anything than happens during his hospital stay. "Ordinary People" knows exactly where to start and what to show. It leaves a great deal to our imagination. It gives us freedom to put ourselves in the character's shoes. This is a realistic portrayal of a crippled family trying to mend with problems.

Several key characters also contribute to the rehabilitation of Conrad. Dr. Berger (Judd Hirsch), provides Conrad with psychological guidance; the high school swimming coach (E. Emmet Walsh) understands Conrad's condition, but still doesn't want the swim team to lose his talent; Jeannine (Elizabeth McGovern) befriends the struggling Conrad; Karen (Dinah Manoff) another similarly hospitalized with Conrad, gives him some added confidence.

"Ordinary People" took home Academy Awards for best picture, director, supporting actor, adapted screenplay, Mary Tyler Moore's deserving performance, and earned various other nominations, including the supporting performance by Judd Hirsch. It is clear why the film won so much praise by critics and audiences alike: we can clearly identify with the characters and their situation.

The characters are beautifully written. I cannot remember the last movie I saw that so vividly captures individual lifestyles and personal tragedies. Every character plays an important role in Conrad's life. His father feels his son's suicide attempt is due to his poor parenting. The materialistic mom finds it difficult to contend with difficulties and to forgive her son for what he did to her public image. Conrad's problems evolve into larger, more complex issues of love, compassion, forgiveness, and our personal differences.

The actors really deserve the crown here. If there was even one who did not live up to the great expectations, they would appear obvious and subtract from the film's emotional grasp. Timothy Hutton really portrays his character well. Every emotional aspect feels real, justified, and understood. Mary Tyler Moore portrays the film's potential villain believably as well. She makes is obvious that Beth would rather run from problems instead of dealing with them. After seeing Donald Sutherland in many recent film's that seem rather terse, I formed opinions about his credibility and ability that his performance here proves wrong. He is definitely a gifted actor when dealt good material. In this performance, easily the best of his career, he captures every minuet detail of a father struggling with his past, present, and future.

"Ordinary People" shares much in common with 1999's best picture winner, "American Beauty." That was another great film, but "Ordinary People" contains debatably better material. "American Beauty" looked tragedy in the eye and found respect, mockery, and grace. "Ordinary People" never bestows comic material, however, but it does trace suffering to its root, and finds disorientation, embarrassment, and sorrow. This is not an easy movie to watch, but a challenging, perceptive, tragic story that you are not likely to forget.



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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Ordinary People (1980)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
I demand an honorary Oscar for Donald Sutherland! truepolo88
Where would Beth be today? BriGuy1211
Significance of names gmwanner
Mary Tyler Moore should have won the Oscar! Writerchamp13
SCENE THAT'S CRINGE INDUCING Missyrocks
Most Underrated movie ever thomaswilliamboner
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