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On Golden Pond (1981)

PG | | Drama | 12 February 1982 (USA)
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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.

Director:

Mark Rydell

Writers:

Ernest Thompson (screenplay), Ernest Thompson (based on his play)
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Popularity
4,684 ( 603)
Won 3 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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 William Lanteau ... Charlie Martin
Christopher Rydell ... Sumner Todd (as Chris Rydell)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

when life is at its finest...when love is at its fullest... See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 February 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Am goldenen See See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$89,213, 6 December 1981, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$119,285,432
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

The brown Fedora worn by Henry Fonda belonged to Spencer Tracy and was given to Fonda by Katharine Hepburn on the first day on the set. Fonda, overwhelmed with the gesture, painted a still life watercolor of the three hats he wore in the film and gave the original to Hepburn as a gift. He had 200 lithographs made of the painting and sent one to every person who worked on the film. Each copy was numbered and personally signed by Fonda thanking each person by name. In her autobiography, Hepburn wrote that she gave the painting to screenwriter Ernest Thompson. After Fonda's death, she found the painting to be a sad reminder of him and Tracy. See more »

Goofs

Pieces of mail change between shots; in particular, there is no printed advertising flyer in the first shots, and there is never a padded envelope containing Norman's meds included in the sheaf of envelopes that the postman delivers; after pulling out the letter from Chelsea and handing it to Ethel, he says himself that there is nothing else besides "bills and junk mail". See more »

Quotes

Chelsea Thayer Wayne: It just seems like we've been mad at each other for so long...
Norman: I didn't think we were mad; I just thought we didn't like each other.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Oscars (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Walter and Norman are one and the same
21 September 1999 | by Dan GrantSee 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.


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