On Golden Pond

"Excellent"

On Golden Pond Review


The early 1980s were the best of times and the worst of times for movies. Hollywood produced a lot of entertaining blockbusters (the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Terminator movies, Ghostbusters, Blade Runner, WarGames, Airplane!, Risky Business, and so on) which kept the movies fun and exciting. But Hollywood also produced a string of mainstream dramas like Sophie's Choice and Ordinary People which were punishingly grim, superficial, and shallow. Of course, most film critics at the time viewed the former with contempt, and praised the latter as the greatest works of art since Mozart.

On Golden Pond was definitely one of the latter category -- a manipulative, Oscar-ready mainstream drama. But surprisingly, it's not a bad movie.

Ernest Thompson's play about a couple of septuagenarian weekenders in New Hampshire griping about old age is a stalwart of community theater, but it lacks the dramatic punch necessary for the movies. So Thompson extensively rewrote the script, adding some unnecessary drama and so much profanity that I remember one of my pre-teen friends saying at the time, "I thought the movie was OK, but dude, it was swear city!"

As a further box-office ploy, the dying Henry Fonda was cast in the role as the old husband, Norman Thayer, and in the role of Thayer's estranged daughter was... Jane Fonda, Henry's real-life daughter. In the film, Jane Fonda's character uses so many ugly curse words to describe her father that her mother finally slaps her, which is way overdue.

Fortunately, her mother is played by Katharine Hepburn, whose luminous presence and quiet dignity carries the movie. In Hepburn's performance, her character's love for her husband and her exasperation with him are two sides of a coin. Hepburn uses the part to communicate many of the conflicting feelings of old age: the joy of living, the fear of being alone, disappointment in one's children, and acceptance of the past, present, and future.

The New England scenery is good, but the direction is pedestrian, and the only thing that Jane Fonda contributes to the film, other than her name, is overacting. That said, the Hollywood retouches do not completely obscure the moments of wisdom in Thompson's script, and the pathos in Henry Fonda's and Katharine Hepburn's last marquee performances makes On Golden Pond a worthwhile film.

Now that's love.



On Golden Pond

Facts and Figures

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Friday 12th February 1982

Box Office Worldwide: $19.3M

Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Production compaines: Universal Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 22 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: , Stephen Grimes

Producer:

Starring: as Ethel Thayer, as Norman Thayer Jr., as Chelsea Thayer Wayne, as Billy Ray, as Bill Ray

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.