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On Golden Pond (1981)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  12 February 1982 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 20,410 users  
Reviews: 105 user | 37 critic

The loons are back again on Golden Pond and so are Norman Thayer, a retired professor, and Ethel who have had a summer cottage there since early in their marriage. This summer their ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (based on his play)
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Won 3 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
William Lanteau ...
Christopher Rydell ...
Sumner Todd (as Chris Rydell)


The loons are back again on Golden Pond and so are Norman Thayer, a retired professor, and Ethel who have had a summer cottage there since early in their marriage. This summer their daughter Chelsea -- whom they haven't seen for years -- feels she must be there for Norman's birthday. She and her fiance are on their way to Europe the next day but will be back in a couple of weeks to pick up the fiance's son. When she returns Chelsea is married and her stepson has the relationship with her father that she always wanted. Will father and daughter be able to communicate at last? Written by Dale O'Connor <daleoc@interaccess.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis






PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

12 February 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Am goldenen See  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$119,285,432 (USA)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The movie's closing credits dedication states: "This film is respectfully dedicated to the memory and talent of ROBERT. L. WOLFE" [See: Robert L. Wolfe]. See more »


When then mailman comes earlier in the movie, the screen door is broke; but a few scenes later you can see when the door is open it goes back to the closed position. Later on it is broken again. See more »


Billy Ray: So, I heard you turned 80 today.
Norman: Is that what you heard?
Billy Ray: Yeah. Man, that's really old.
Norman: You should meet my father.
Billy Ray: Your father's still alive?
Norman: No, but you should meet him.
See more »


Referenced in Sunny Side Up (1994) See more »


Happy Birthday to You
(1893) (uncredited)
Written by Mildred J. Hill and Patty S. Hill
Sung by all for Norman's birthday
See more »

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User Reviews

Walter and Norman are one and the same
21 September 1999 | by (Toronto, Ontario) – See all my reviews

On Golden Pond is a film that proved to me that acting is a beautiful thing when it comes from some of the veterans and the greats. I have always had the opinion that most acting from the 60's and earlier is one dimensional and flat. But then I saw this film and I realized that I was watching two of the best, from any era. Fonda and Hepburn are absolutely stunning in here and they so richly deserved to win their Oscars that year. And not only am I mad to see that Chariots of Fire beat out Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it also beat this film out as best picture, and that is a shame, and a crime.

On Golden Pond reminded me a little of my relationship with my grandfather. It's not that we didn't get along because we did, but at times it was a little strained simply because of the age difference. But Billy soon learns that Norman Thayer Jr. is not just an old man, but he is a guy that has a lot say and he can offer him so much and of course they become friends. So we all know how the movie is going to end up, but it is the execution that is the strength of the film. We watch as these two grow together. We sense that they are becoming more at ease with each other and when we finally see our two guys catch that guarantuan fish named Walter, by this time we are pretty much sure what they are going to do. And it's kind of funny to draw parallels between Walter the fish, and Norman the crusty old man. But both have been around the pond for years. Norman's life wouldn't be the same if his quest for the fish was never there. Perhaps the same with Walter, perhaps he has enjoyed alluding Norman for all these years. But now the game is up, but it doesn't have to be. Norman caught him, perhaps that's all that should matter. You can draw your own conclusions from that analogy. But I like the way it comes out.

On Golden Pond is a treasure. It is sweet, tender and honest. You will never see a performance better than the one Henry Fonda gives in this one. And this made me want to go out and rent some of the films that the two screen legends were in before and I have to admit that their early work is impressive. But it is here that they shine like never before. So my recommendation is this. If you are young and would never imagine seeing a film like this because it doesn't have someone like Sara Michelle Gellar or Arnold Schwartzenegger in it, then take the take advice of someone who had the same pre-conceived notions when I was 15. No Sly, no Spielberg? Hey forget it, not my cup of tea. But this will give you a new appreciation of film. It really is that good.

And for those of you that have seen it, remember this line? "Wife's name is Ethel Thayer, thounds like I'm lithsping dothsn't it? " What a great film.

37 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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