on November 8, 2002
This review refers to the VHS edition .....
Old age and all the problems that go with it, have turned Norman Thayer(Henry Fonda)into a curmudgeon.He is forgetful and thoughts of dieing are foremost in his mind. It doesn't seem to bother his wife Ethel much though(Katherine Hepburn).Always in high spirits and happy to be alive. Her biggest woe is worrying about him. The Thayers are spending their 48th year at their summer home On Golden Pond. It will be Norman's 80th birthday, and joining in the celebration will be their daughter Chelsea(Jane Fonda), who Norman has never been able to connect with emotionally.
Chelsea brings with her to the lake her fiance(Dabney Coleman) and his 13 year old son Billy(Doug McKeon)who has some emotional problems of his own. Billy is left to spend the summer with the older couple, which was not what the 13 year old had in mind for a fun vacation.Norman and Billy form an unusal bond over the summer as Ethel watches her husband's renewed zest for life.
The film is one of those that the expression "I laughed. I cried" really is true. The story is an emotional rollercoaster, that you'll want to watch over and over.Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn shine and both recieved best Acting awards in 1981 for their on screen magic. All I could see in the scenes with Henry and Jane together was love. Even when their characters were at odds they too loved each other, and managed to work through it.An incredible acting job by the young Doug McKeon, and Coleman excellent as he goes toe to toe with Henry Fonda.
The music and the scenery are as beautiful as the movie. The pond with the sun shining, the woodsy areas, the loons ever present, were a joy to watch. Directed by Mark Rydell, who seemed to find the beauty of life. Fonda's last film, he left us with one that we can treasure for years to come.
Kick back and enjoy.........Laurie
on November 25, 2003
"On Golden Pond" is one of the top 10 best films released in 1981. It won three Oscars: Best Actor(Henry Fonda in his last movie role), Best Actress(Katharine Hepburn, her forth in her career), and Best Director(Mark Rydell). Its unique plot gives it further joy to the audience. Its theme of Norman'(Fonda) anger increasing dramatically because of getting old always has its twists and turns. The emotion is never lost. While Norman tries to reconcile with his estranged daughter, Chelsea, many life changing events occur that keep the audience interested. Such mix of events, plus a few others, are combined wonderfully by the writer. He accomplished a more difficult challenge considering there aren't many characters. The screenplay lives up to the original stage version. The acting is wonderful. Besides the Oscar winning actors who performed brilliantly, Jane Fonda's performance as Chelsea is great. The entire cast add their own emotional value to the dramatic plot. Such movie quality makes "On Golden Pond" highly enjoyable to watch. This will keep many entertained many more years to come.
on August 24, 2002
This is one fantastic movie. Henry Fonda provided his best in his final movie. The story centers around Norman Thayer's estranged daughter (Played by real life daughter Jane Fonda) who visits her parents at their summer home on Golden Pond. She brings along her Fiance' and his son. The daughter and the boys father leave for Europe, leaving the boy with the older couple. The freinship that developes between the boy and Norman Thayer is teriffic. In an age where movies treat elderly people with contempt, it is good to see that older people can be treated with dignity and respect. Older people tell some fantastic stories (some of them are even true). The friendship developes over Norman and the boy's attempt to catch the fiendish catfish known as Walter. When there is an accident Norman is thrown from the boat. He then clings to a rock calling for his daughter. This especially sd because if you see this movie their relationship is not exactly close. Of course, the boy and Norman are rescued. The daughter and the boys father return from Europe married. At the very end of the movie norman and his daughter begin to patch up their relationship.
This movie is a possitive exzmple of frienship and trust. The boy was rejected by his mother and has to live with his father (Who does love the boy). But because of his mother's rejection he has a lot of anger and resentment. It takes him a while to trust Norman. The entire cast gave a stellar performance. Even the loons deserve an Oscar!
on September 17, 2002
I remember with fondness having been booked into a seat next to one of Jane Fonda's production assistants flying back to Boston from Los Angeles early in the 1980s. This was how I learned of the film shooting going on that summer up in rural New Hampshire at Great Squam Lake (the actual setting for the mythical Golden Pond). I really enjoyed having an animated conversation with the young lady, who was obviously very bright and very knowledgeable about various aspects of the movie production, and made sure I was in line to see the new film when it within the following year. Evidently it was rushed through both production and release due to Henry Fonda's failing health and the desire to try to set him up for would certainly be his final attempt to receive the Academy Award that had so long eluded him. After seeing the movie, there was doubt he deserved the award he eventually received for this role of a lifetime.
It was indeed a bravura performance, one that is as quintessentially American as apple pie or the fourth of July, and one that will long endure as both a popular and critical favorite. Fonda played Norman Thayer, last of the great American curmudgeons, to perfection, and did so with such convincing energy and verve as to remove any and all doubt he knew from personal experience of what he spoke. Moreover, Everything about the production is first rate, from the splendid adaptation of the Broadway play to a screenplay to the wonderfully bucolic and even idyllic setting of one of New Hampshire's more scenic and pristine lake areas. The cast is also superb, and I was quite surprised that Katharine Hepburn did not receive an Oscar for her stellar performance as Ethel Thayer, the long suffering but devoted wife to Norman.
Also quite good is young Doug McKeon, playing the young and challenging son of the Thayer's wayward daughter's boyfriend, dumped on the elderly Thayers for the summer so the boyfriend and daughter can escape to France for a much-needed romantic escape. It is the developing relationship between Fonda's character and the young boy that ignites Thayer's compassion and warmth to show the warm and vibrant man lurking underneath that crusty exterior. In this sense, the son becomes the catalyst for Thayer's reconciliation with his daughter, which has been Ethel's most fervent hope for the summer. The movie is, for me at least, sheer magic, and I marvel at the banter and repartee written so intelligently into the script, for such wit and warmth is quite rare in today's films, which so often seem to be constructed around demographic appeal surveys rather than meaningful story lines. This one is a keeper, folks, and one you will want to see again and again. Needless to say, I highly recommend it. Enjoy!
on August 28, 2001
Not even could Christopher Plummer who's performance in the live stage version was good, but not as good as Fonda! In his final film which earned him the Academy Award, Henry Fonda plays the retired Prof. Norman Thayer Jr. Thayer and his wife Ethel (wonderfully played by Katherine "the great" Hepburn) decide to have a birthday celebration at the family lake, and hope to reconcile the bond with their daughter Chelsie (Jane Fonda)! What made me like the film so well was obviously Henry Fonda's character as he deals with the fear of turning 80. Just watching Norman go through these obstacles really made me cry because it's so heart-wrenching to have a person you admire go through all of this! He would almost be like the grandfather you really love, and who you would hate to lose without having a relationship with them. In the end, Chelsea and Norman finally rekindle the bond of a father and daughter relationship. One of the finest movies ever made with one of the finest actors of all time.
on May 1, 2001
On Golden Pond is a movie that speaks about many things: the anger an older person feels at growing old and becoming forgetful, the feelings that can be carried around from childhood, the love between a husband and wife, the connections to be made through age and youth, and reconciliation.
Henry Fonda stars as the aging Norman Thayer. With age, Norman has begun to experience forgetfulness and heart angina. Competent of the fact that he's becoming slower and more forgetful, Norman is can come across as an irritable, jaded, and sarcastic man. This is his defense mechanism to overcome the frustration he's feeling. Norman has a loving wife Ethyl who is patient with him but also isn't afraid to rebuke him when he's out of line.
At the request of their daughter, Norman and Ethyl allow a young boy to stay with them (the boy of their daughter's new boyfriend) for the summer. This turns into an experience where an old and young man connect and develop a friendship that helps Norman. Through their experiences together, Norman gets to see how his actions have begun to affect people and you start to see a different person emerge.
The story is dramatic, powerful, touching, and beautiful. Movies like this are indeed rare and should be treasured. It's great that this is finally available on DVD. The clarity is excellent as well as the sound. Buy this movie, and remind yourself of some of the wonderful things in life---and don't hold back the tears....it's pointless.
on August 26, 2000
I've seen On Golden Pond at least thirty times since its release and never get tired of it. Henry Fonda is brilliant as the crabby Norman Thayer and he shines in his last screen performance. His interplay with Katharine Hepburn reminds one of the rare chemistry she enjoyed with Spencer Tracy in all the magical movies they made together. Everything Fonda says in this movie is real and believable, you'll never catch him overacting or playing one false note. It would be difficult to imagine anyone else in this role.
Fonda's scenes with daughter Jane are particularly moving considering their strained real life relationship. Their last embrace at the conclusion of the film will tug at your heart strings. It's a poignant and wistful look at growing old and facing death, two unpleasant but unavoidable subjects. Fonda and Hepburn are literally perfect in this film, which is also enhanced by a beautiful, haunting soundtrack. This is a film you can watch again and again and never weary of it.
on June 25, 2000
What a great film! I've purchased several DVD movies that ended up just sitting on my shelf collecting dust after 1 or 2 viewings. ON GOLDEN POND is not one of them. This film is a classic that I could watch over and over. I feel the story has some important things to say. It makes you look good and hard at your own life, your own family relationships, and your own fears concerning growing older and death. I like to think I have a deeper understanding and respect for seniors each time I see this picture. Henry Fonda and Kate Hepburn are wonderful and perfectly cast. Great chemistry! Jane Fonda is great too. (I wish she'd start making movies again!) Jane wanted this film made so that she and her Father could act in a picture together before his death. This film is a perfect blend of comedy and serious subjects all rolled into one. If your heart isn't touched by this one, there is no hope for you! I really enjoyed the DVD documentary on the making of the movie. Mark Rydell has a lot of interesting things to say in the director's commentary also. There are interviews with Jane Fonda, Dabney Coleman, Doug McKeon, Mark Rydell, and Ernest Thompson, the author and screenplay writer of ON GOLDEN POND. I wish there had been some sort of interviews with Henry and Kate. I believe the documentary was probably done fairly recently. Everyone looks a little older than they appeared in the movie. Doug McKeon(played 13 year old Billy Ray Jr.) looks to be in his early 30's during his interview. Well... If you are still reading, here is my recommendation.... BUY THIS MOVIE! I really feel I got my money's worth from this DVD.
on June 19, 2013
This film is older now, but still holds up well. The story is timeless, and actors are completely engaging. Dave Grusin's music is so beautiful and has presence. DVD quality adds so much more depth to both the audio and visual aspects. The extras are really interesting and I feel I learned more about the art of filmmaking just from hearing about their experiences.
on April 5, 2003
This film goes beyond description. A feel good movie.....a drama.....a comedy.......call it what you will, but nothing changes the fact that "On Golden Pond" is one of the graetest films of all time. It's undeniably hillarious, but at the same time it's terribly heartbreaking/heartwarming. The whole thing rolls out as nothing short of a work of art. Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda were never better, ESPECIALLY Henry Fonda. As Norman, he evokes the most laughs, the best scenes, and gives a truly magnificent performance. Both esteemed actors won worthy Oscars.
The DVD is pretty good. The picture and sound quality aren't much better than a VHS copy, but it's satisfactory. The making-of documentary is great, and very involving. But, hey, it's pretty good for an Artisan non-special edition release!
Buy it now....you won't regret it!
P.S. I'm not really Chris; I'm his friend, Erik Morton, and have a large collection of reviews myself.