|Director:||mark rydell||Runtime: 1 hrs 49 min ( 109 min)|
|ethel thayer||.....||katharine hepburn|
|norman thayer, jr.||.....||henry fonda|
|chelsea thayer wayne||.....||jane fonda|
|billy ray||.....||doug mcKeon|
|bill ray||.....||dabney coleman|
|charlie martin||.....||william lanteau|
|sumner todd||.....||chris rydell|
|boy on jetty||.....||troy ganty|
Norman (Henry Fonda) and Ethel Thayer (Katharine Hepburn) are going up to their cabin on Golden Pond to celebrate Norman's 80th birthday.
When they arrive, their daughter, Chelsea (Jane Fonda) shows up to introduce her parents to her fiancée, Bill (Dabney Coleman) and his son, Billy (Doug McKeon).
Chelsea and Bill are on their way to a business engagement, so they are dropping off Billy for a week. Billy does not get off to a great start with Norman and Ethel on account of he resents being left out in the middle of nowhere with a couple of old people. Norman is harsh, but before very long, he and Billy have bonded in a cautious way, and Billy starts to enjoy his stay.
On the surface, the movie focuses on the relationship between Billy and Norman. However, it silently addresses the wavering relationship between Norman and his daughter, Chelsea.
Most of the significant scenes take place in the Thayers' boat, out on the pond…usually fishing.
Chelsea and Bill return with a surprise for Norman's birthday party, and relationships across the board are re-evaluated.
Finally, when everyone has left, the couple load up the good china and all the luggage. The movie ends with one last confirmation of Norman and Ethel's love and commitment to each other.
The loons are calling!!
If you take nothing else away from this movie (shame on you - you weren't paying attention), you will know that when the loons cry, they are either welcoming you home, or wishing you farewell.
I saw a bit of irony between the actors and the characters they play in this movie. Specifically Henry and Jane Fonda. Of course, there is the obvious connection in that they are father and daughter in real life; they likewise play father and daughter in the movie. This, incidentally, was no coincidence…but that's another blog. In the movie, Chelsea (Jane Fonda) has always felt somewhat estranged from Norman's (Henry Fonda) love. She has always felt that he wanted a boy, and that he was just angry at and unhappy with her.
I, however, got the feeling that Norman just felt awkward and uncomfortable around his daughter. Norman loves fishing and diving. In his mind, these are things men and boys do. He was at a loss as to what to do with a little girl, not knowing that she just wanted to be with her dad, regardless of the activity.
Norman Thayer…now there's a character! Crotchity old man? Sure; but charming on the inside. Listen to the reality and ultimate truths in his criticisms, and you'll be right up there with him, grinding your teeth at the world. It becomes apparent, however, that his seeming bitterness can be warranted. First of all, as mentioned above, he regrets having not connected with his daughter as she was growing up. When Billy (Doug McKeon) arrives, he realizes that he had been disappointed that he had not had a son. He realizes (although it takes him the whole movie and a blatent spelling out) that this has taken a toll on Chelsea, and affected her entire life.
It is also apparent (although he tries to avoid it) that Norman is afraid of becoming ‘old.’ He is very aware of it…perhaps too aware of it. It is his 80th birthday, and he realizes his memory isn't as sharp as it used to be…and he is scared.
Any fan of Katharin Hepburn will recognize her signature shaky delivery and her no-nonsense attitude. Despite her husband's curmudgeonly attitude towards life. She knows he loves her, and she has come to turn that into an atmosphere of fun and happiness - somewhere around 50-some-odd years worth.
As I had mentioned at the beginning of this rant, there is irony abound with the actors here and in real life. Of course there is the obvious family connection - Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda, father and daughter in real life, play characters Norman and Chelsea Thayer, father and daughter in the movie.
But it goes beyond that. Jane's personal relationship with her father was a strained one. This was the only time the two had made a movie together. You can see the sentiments in Chelsea and Norman that were meant to be a message to real-life father and daughter through on-screen father and daughter. After finally making a movie together with his daughter, Henry Fonda won an Academy Award for best actor for this film, and died five months later.
Aside from the profanity, which in this very rare case actually adds value to the story, this is not only a film the whole family can see together, it is a film the whole family should see together.
At the end of the movie, for 4 or 5 minutes, Norman shows his true colors (after the rest of the family has vamoosed, of course); it is that along with the calling of the loons and the incredible soundtrack that makes you bring out the tissue box, ready to rewind (I watched this on VHS) and start the movie again.
MEMORABLE DIALOGUE & NOTEABLE ENCOUNTERS
Finally, a short list of quotes and verbal exchanges I think are worth repeating.
You may recognize some if you've seen the movie, but these are my own picks, not ones that are particularly famous:
- Ethel :
They're a nice, middle-aged couple. Just like us.
If they're just like us, they're not middle-aged.
Of course they are.
Middle-aged means middle of life. People don't live to be 150!
- [Knock at the door]
Someone's at the door!
It's ME you old poop!
- Billy Ray :
I hear you turned 80 today.
Is that what you heard?
Billy Ray :
Yeah. Man, that's really old.
You should meet my father.
Billy Ray :
Your father's still alive?!
Nah. But you should meet him.
- Billy Ray :
I just had a birthday, too. I turned 13 two weeks ago.
Yeah? We're practically twins.
- Bill :
How's it feel turning 80?
Twice as bad as it did turning 40.
- Norman :
You like that word, dont'cha? Bullshit.
Billy Ray :
It's a good word.
- Billy Ray :
Hey Norman, can I ask you a question? How did you get Ethel, anyway?
I sent away for her. Two box tops from Quaker Oats.
- Norman :
You wanna dance? Or would ya' rather suck face?!