134 user 46 critic

On Golden Pond (1981)

PG | | Drama | 12 February 1982 (USA)
1:48 | Trailer
Norman is a curmudgeon with an estranged relationship with his daughter Chelsea. At Golden Pond, he and his wife nevertheless agree to care for Billy, the son of Chelsea's new boyfriend, and a most unexpected relationship blooms.


Mark Rydell


Ernest Thompson (screenplay), Ernest Thompson (based on his play)
3,758 ( 1,526)
Won 3 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Katharine Hepburn ... Ethel Thayer
Henry Fonda ... Norman Thayer Jr.
Jane Fonda ... Chelsea Thayer Wayne
Doug McKeon ... Billy Ray
Dabney Coleman ... Bill Ray
William Lanteau ... Charlie Martin
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:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


In the scene near the beginning of the film where Norman Thayer (Henry Fonda) calls the operator to see if the phone is working, he looks at a framed family photograph on the desk and asks "Who the hell is that?" The picture shows Henry Fonda and four-year-old Jane Fonda with Fonda's real-life second wife (and Jane's real mother), Frances Seymour Brokaw. See more »


As Ethel and Norman prepare to leave the dock after gassing up the boat, the microphone boom is reflected in the boat's windshield. It moves each time one or the other actor speaks. See more »


[to Ethel]
Norman: Wanna dance or would you rather just suck face?
See more »

Alternate Versions

When premiered on TV, an extra credit dedicated to Henry Fonda was added to the final credits. See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Bruce Dern/Luther Vandross (1982) 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 »

User Reviews

Perfect characterisation of relationships and contains all the simple pleasure that time forgot
20 July 2005 | by greatbritain1989See all my reviews

There is a film like this very rarely and indeed it works like we actually do know the Thayers. Indeed we can most certainly relate to Henry Fonda while Katharine Hepburn is more then an incredible actress. In this film the mix of drama and comedy from her as a character shows why she won that record breaking fourth Oscar statuette.

I'll just say the story in a nutshell. Jane Fonda and her father did not get along. Jane, however wanted one last chance for a close bond to her father and bought the rights to the play "On Golden Pond." In the film the Oscar winning performance by Henry Fonda (his only in a career spanning decades.) Jane fully deserved her Oscar nomination for her exceptional (and of course very realistic performance.) In the actual film the chemistry of Hepburn and (Henry) Fonda is perfect. This film really to try to put into words is a really touching gem that makes you feel so uplifted. Your spirits soar and any relationship that can be amended and is anywhere near as strong in the film (From Hepburn and Fonda) shows us what acting can do.

Oscars abound, critical praise and very likely the last of the old fashioned melodramas (Mainly because acting has moved on a generation from these sorts of films.) The sentiment and feel is perfectly placed and the storeys clicked so much like the Fonda Father- Daughter relationship. It is a warm intelligent character based film that i would advise everyone to see at once!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 134 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

12 February 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

On Golden Pond See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$89,213, 6 December 1981

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed