7.7/10
43,267
303 user 64 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)
Reviews
Popularity
2,432 ( 517)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 February 1981 (Italy) 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
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite his character being the central protagonist of the story, Timothy Hutton won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. Oddly enough, Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore, who had vastly less screen time as his on-screen parents, received Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor and Best Actress respectively. Pundits attribute this to the fact that Hutton was not only an unknown actor at the time but also a young actor (at age 20), while Sutherland and Moore were established stars. See more »

Goofs

When Karen and Conrad are at the restaurant and Karen is leaving, the glass of Coke that Conrad ordered but never touched has disappeared from where it was on the table. See more »

Quotes

Conrad "Con" Jarrett: [seeing Beth set the table] Can I help?
Beth Jarrett: Help with what?
Conrad "Con" Jarrett: With... this?
Beth Jarrett: No. I'll tell you what you can do is go upstairs to that room of yours and clean out the closet.
Conrad "Con" Jarrett: [still desperately trying to talk with her] Mom?
Beth Jarrett: [sensing this, but is afraid] Okay? Because it really is a mess.
[they stare at each other in silence for a moment before the phone rings]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in House: Runaways (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by all at the party
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Stunning insight into a family falling apart.
30 January 2005 | by Wardman3See 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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