×

Film Review: On Golden Pond

Without question, these are major, meaty roles for Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, and there could have been little doubt that the two would work superbly together. Fact that Ernest Thompson's 1978 play backs away from the dramatic fireworks that might have been mutes overall impact of the piece, but sufficient pleasures remain.

With:
Katharine Hepburn Henry Fonda Jane Fonda Dabney Coleman Doug McKeon

Without question, these are major, meaty roles for Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, and there could have been little doubt that the two would work superbly together. Fact that Ernest Thompson’s 1978 play backs away from the dramatic fireworks that might have been mutes overall impact of the piece, but sufficient pleasures remain.

 

Fonda, a retired professor, and Hepburn arrive at their New England cottage to spend their 48th summer together. He’s approaching his 80th birthday and, while it’s clear that his wife is thoroughly familiar with his crotchety act, his mostly intentional rudeness and irascibility make life difficult for others in his vicinity.

 

At the half-hour point, along come daughter Jane Fonda, future son-in-law Dabney Coleman and latter’s son Doug McKeon. Coleman manages a stand-off with the elder Fonda, but Jane is clearly still terrified of her dad, suffering from lingering feelings of neglect and inferiority.

 

The film’s most moving interlude, a near-death scene, is saved for the end, and both Fonda (pere) and Hepburn are miraculous together here, conveying heartrending intimations of mortality which are doubly powerful due to the stars’ venerable status.

 

1981: Best Actor (Henry Fonda), Actress (Katharine Hepburn), Adapted Screenplay.

 

Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Supp. Actress (Jane Fonda), Cinematography, Editing, Score, Sound

Film Review: On Golden Pond

Production: Universal/ITC/IPC. Director Mark Rydell; Producer Bruce Gilbert; Screenplay Ernest Thompson; Camera Billy Williams; Editor Robert L. Wolfe; Music Dave Grusin; Art Director Stephen Grimes

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1981. Running time: 109 MIN.

With: Katharine Hepburn Henry Fonda Jane Fonda Dabney Coleman Doug McKeon

More Film

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Leaders Approve Proposal for New Film-TV Contract

    The SAG-AFTRA national board has approved proposals for a successor deal to its master contract covering feature film and primetime television — a key step in the upcoming negotiations cycle with companies. The board approved the package Saturday with the performers union declining to reveal any specifics — its usual policy. The board established the wages [...]

  • Cameron Crowe, David Crosby, A.J. Eaton.

    Cameron Crowe on Why He Loved Leaving David Crosby Doc on a CSNY Question Mark

    David Crosby may or may not have stuck a joint in Cameron Crowe’s mouth the first time he ever met the future filmmaker, when Crosby was peaking with Crosby Stills Nash & Young and his interviewer was a precocious 15-year-old Rolling Stone correspondent. As Crowe said to Jimmy Kimmel the other night, “I remember it [...]

  • Mokalik

    Nigeria’s Kunle Afolayan: African Audiences Shouldn’t Be ‘Second-Class’

    DURBAN–A young boy from a middle-class home gets an unconventional schooling in the ways of the world when he’s forced to apprentice at a mechanic’s workshop in a rough-and-tumble section of Lagos. “Mokalik” is the latest feature from Kunle Afolayan, a leading figure in the wave of filmmakers revitalizing the Nigerian film industry. The film [...]

  • Alicia Rodis photographed by Alicia Rodis

    SAG-AFTRA Moves to Standardize Guidelines for Intimacy Coordinators

    SAG-AFTRA is moving to standardize guidelines for intimacy coordinators as part of an effort to establish policies for union members when their work involves nudity and simulated sex. “Our goal is to normalize and promote the use of intimacy coordinators within our industry,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “Intimacy coordinators provide an important safety net for [...]

  • The Lion King

    Box Office: 'The Lion King' Roars Overseas With Mighty $269 Million

    Disney’s “The Lion King” certainly felt the love this weekend, generating $269 million at the international box office. Director Jon Favreau’s remake of the classic Disney cartoon now holds the eighth-biggest debut of all time overseas, and that’s not including the film’s early opening in China last weekend. Combined with a stellar $185 million start [...]

  • Scarlett JohanssonMarvel Studios panel, Comic-Con International,

    Scarlett Johansson Reveals What We'll Learn About Black Widow in Stand-Alone Movie

    Scarlett Johansson can finally talk about her upcoming “Black Widow” movie. While she can’t divulge spoilers, she let out a big sigh of relief after the film was officially announced on Saturday during the Marvel Studios presentation at Comic-Con. “I feel like a weight has been lifted,” the Oscar nominee told Variety. “Black Widow” is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content