Writer Ernest Thompson, who came up with the original stage play of On Golden Pond and adapted it for film, is lucky to have two giants of the screen give dignity and breadth to his sometimes trite dialogue. Henry Fonda, i... more »n his last role, plays a prickly English professor at the disagreeable age of 80. Visiting his summer house by a Maine lake with his wife (Katharine Hepburn), the old man forges an unlikely bond with a lonely boy, comes to terms with his daughter (Jane Fonda), and suffers disorienting effects of mild dementia. Even playing a tired old man, Fonda is an absolute lion of a movie star, and Hepburn brings her special spirit to the part of his worried bride. The onscreen relationship between Henry and Jane Fonda naturally makes one think about their much-discussed difficulties offscreen, but that's a side benefit in a movie that is really just a celebration of simple human decency. Directed by Mark Rydell (Harry and Walter Go to New York). --Tom Keogh« less
Jo V. (Jo) from BOISE, ID Reviewed on 10/5/2009...
Just a bit of trivia. On Golden Pond was nominated for Best Picture the same year as Raiders of the Lost Ark was. They both lost to The Quest for Fire. Somehow I think they split the vote, coz the Quest for Fire never should have won.
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Poignant and Magnificent
Candace Scott | Lake Arrowhead, CA, USA | 08/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Some Treasures Refuse to Tarnish
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"ON GOLDEN POND may be twenty-five years old but the film is of such high quality that it has retained the luminous quality that garnered so many awards when released. It not only has a fine script adapted by the playwright Ernest Thompson from his own play, but it benefits from the sensitive direction by Mark Rydell and a cast of superb actors.
The story is rather simple: Ethel (Katherine Hepburn) and Norman (Henry Fonda) Thayer have returned to their summer home beside Golden Pond and while they are elderly, their lives are still significant. They receive a rare visit from their distant daughter Chelsea (Jane Fonda) who stops by with her current boyfriend Bill (Dabney Coleman) to drop off Bill's ruffian teenage son Billy (Doug McKeon) to reluctantly stay with them while Chelsea and Bill are off to Europe. It is a battle of age differences: Billy sees no future in starting a relationship with the old turkeys and Norman is resentful at the youth's attitude (Ethel is the wise mediator). Slowly but surely the three bond, age differences diminish as negatives and Billy sees Norman as a wise teacher he has never had. Chelsea returns at summer's end with her now husband Bill and faces confrontation with Norman for never being the father she needed: Chelsea knows Norman has spent his life rejecting her because she was not the 'son' he wanted! Finally the family reconciles past differences and Ethel and Thayer face their aging and its effects as they listen to the loons on the lake.
Hepburn, both Fondas, Coleman and McKeon give outstanding performances, but it is the knowledge that this was H. Fonda's last film and for all intents and purposes Hepburn's last film AND the only time the Fonda father/daughter team acted together on the screen that makes the film even more meaningful. The awards were many and well deserved, not only for the picture, but also for the actors and the production crew. It is a shining example of Hollywood films rising to the standards of Indy movies that makes it such a treat. Grady Harp, August 06"
Hank and Kate make it Golden
Movie Mania | Southern Calfornia | 01/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On Golden Pond was Henry Fonda's last film, Katherine Hepburn's final starring film role and the only film with Henry and Jane Fonda. Just for this it's a must have DVD. Add to this Ernest Thompson's brilliant adaptation of his Broadway smash.
Norman and Ethel Thayer (Hank and Kate) are at the end of their lives (Great line: Ethel: "I met this nice middle age couple just like us." Norman: "Ethel we're not middle aged. Middle aged refers to the middle third of your life. You're old, I'm ancient."). They are spending their summer at their cabin. When their daughter Chelsea (Jane Fonda) arrives for a visit with her new boyfriend (Dabney Coleman), she springs a surprise on them. She wants Norman and Ethel to take care of Bill, jr. while she and Bill, sr. go to Europe.
At first, things don't go well but Norman bonds with Billy and Billy gives Norman a new focus on life. When Chelsea returns, it's time for her and Norman to mend fences.
This is a fine film that examines relationships at the end of life and mending the broken fences. Many say that Fonda won the Oscar for "Lifetime Achievement" but this is a brilliant performance. Hepburn was a perfect match for Fonda and after six decades, she proved why she is considered the greatest actress of all time. You can tell that this was a film of love for Jane as she absorbs every line and every scene.
This is one of the great films of the 80's.
DVD EXTRAS: Reflections on Golden Pond - A 30 minute feature on the making of the film and principally on cinematographer Billy Williams. A very good documentary.
Katherine Hepburn Remembered - A 16 minute tribute to the great actress made shortly after her death for this DVD release.
Commentary Tract by Oscar winner Ernest Thompson
Archival Commentary Tract by Director Mark Rydell "
The beauty and agony of Aging
J. Escher | USA | 12/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hepburn and Fonda are excellent! I have watched this movie time and time again and still find myself brought to tears. The journey of parent and child is painfully raw in stubborness and forgiveness. The difference in generations is another bridge to be crossed. With time and mutual respect it does get crossed which makes for a nice ending.
Also the painful awareness of aging and illness brings one to face their own mortality. In short, life is short, make everyday full of whats important.