7.7/10
47,440
328 user 73 critic

Ordinary People (1980)

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2:26 | Trailer
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:

Robert Redford

Writers:

Judith Guest (novel), Alvin Sargent (screenplay)
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Popularity
2,999 ( 114)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Donald Sutherland ... Calvin Jarrett
Mary Tyler Moore ... Beth Jarrett
Judd Hirsch ... Doctor Berger
Timothy Hutton ... Conrad
M. Emmet Walsh ... Salan - The Swim Coach
Elizabeth McGovern ... Jeannine Pratt
Dinah Manoff ... Karen
Fredric Lehne ... Joe Lazenby
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 Elizabeth Hubbard ... Ruth
Adam Baldwin ... 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 | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Everything is in its proper place... Except the past. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first draft of the screenplay took a year and a half to write, and the second took another year. It was very difficult to adapt this novel, since it relied heavily on the characters' unspoken inner dialogue with sparse descriptions of characters or settings. Robert Redford had decided to direct the picture when the novel was still in galley form. 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

Beth Jarrett: [to her mother about the platter she just broke] You know, I think this can be saved. It's a nice clean break.
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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

 
The epitome of the broken family genre.
26 May 2006 | by longislandjoeSee all my reviews

Ordinary People is an extraordinary motion picture for five reasons. The outstanding direction of Robert Redford, and the brilliant acting of Mary Tyler Moore, Donald Sutherland, Timothy Hutton and Judd Hirsch.

This movie is set in suburban Chicago. The family is an upper-middle class foursome, the parents and their two sons. The eldest son, Buck, is killed in a boating accident. The other son, Conrad, survives but is riddled with guilt. His mother, Beth, who idolized her deceased first born, is cold with her surviving son. She looks at him and is reminded of the pain. Instead of nurturing her surviving child she distances herself from him. Conrad attempts suicide and spends time in a mental hospital. Calvin, the understanding father, is torn between his wife and son.

Dr. Berger, a psychiatrist, is hired by the family to help the troubled young man. The scenes between Hutton and Hirsch are amongst the best in the movie. He helps Conrad understand his mother's pain and shortcomings and to stand on his own. Conrad tries to keep his family together and realizes, almost with relief, that the family's problems are caused by Beth's "burying all her love with Buck".

This is a fascinating motion picture. The direction and the performances are superb. It is an intelligent, moving and honest examination about a family torn by grief and pain. Don't miss it!


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 September 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ordinary People See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$170,335, 21 September 1980

Gross USA:

$54,766,923

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$54,766,923
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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