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Ordinary People (1980)

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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
1,481 ( 659)
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 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:

Gente como uno See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$54,800,000
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

Gene Hackman was originally cast as Dr. Berger, but had to bow out due to re-shoots on Superman II (1980). Judd Hirsch stepped into the role on condition that he could complete the filming of his scenes in nine days, so as not to interfere with his schedule on the TV show Taxi (1978). He earned a best supporting actor Oscar nomination as a result. See more »

Goofs

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 »


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 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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