Part of Weekend Classics: Katharine Hepburn.
Cantankerous retiree Norman Thayer (Henry Fonda) and his conciliatory wife, Ethel (Katharine Hepburn), spend summers at their New England vacation home on the shores of idyllic Golden Pond. This year, their adult daughter, Chelsea (Jane Fonda), visits with her new fiancée and his teenage son, Billy (Doug McKeon) on their way to Europe. After leaving Billy behind to bond with Norman, Chelsea returns, attempting to repair the long-strained relationship with her aging father before it's too late. Hepburn won an Oscar and a BAFTA Award for leading role, while Fonda picked up an Oscar and Golden Globe for what would be his final role on film.
“ON GOLDEN POND is a treasure for many reasons, but the best one, I think, is that I could believe it. I could believe in its major characters and their relationships, and in the things they felt for one another, and there were moments when the movie was witness to human growth and change. I left the theater feeling good and warm, and with a certain resolve to try to mend my own relationships and learn to start listening better . . . watching the movie, I felt I was witnessing something rare and valuable.” —Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times (1981) “Seeing Hepburn and Fonda portray Ethel and Norman Thayer stirs all kinds of emotions. We are at once watching the characters and the actors. The simplicity of the story is crucial to us connecting with the Thayer family. A more complex story would be pointless. Fonda was 76 years old and Hepburn was 74 years old at the time of filming. They no longer had to get into character. They were the characters.” —Aaron Aradillas, IndieWire “Mr. Fonda gives one of the great performances of his long, truly distinguished career. Here is film acting of the highest order, the kind that is not discovered overnight in the laboratory, but seems to be the distillation of hundreds of performances.” —Vincent Canby, New York Times (1981)