On Golden Pond

Drama | English |109 minutes


Norman Thayer, an irascible retired professor and Ethel, his wife of 50 years, continue their long tradition of spending summers in their cottage on the shore of a golden pond in northern New England. They are visited by their estranged daughter Chelsea, her fiancé Bill Ray, and his thirteen-year-old son Billy. Chelsea asks her parents if Billy can stay with them when they depart on a European vacation. At first Billy is annoyed being left in the care of an elderly couple and with no friends around. Billy and Norman slowly bond as they go fishing together. When Chelsea returns, she and Bill are now married.  Chelsea also notices that Billy was able to mellow Norman. On the last day of vacation, while Norman is loading the car, he complains of chest pains and collapses. He recovers. He and Ethel spend some time together overlooking the pond. Life is good. They have each other, Chelsea is happy, and she is off on her own.    

Henry Fonda (Norman Thayer, Jr.) / Katharine Hepburn (Ethel Thayer) / Jane Fonda (Chelsea Thayer Wayne) / Dabney Coleman (Bill Ray)/ Doug McKeon (Billy Ray)
Why Stream This Film?

Like the characters in the film, Jane Fonda was estranged from her father for many years. Jane purchased the rights to the play  determined to make On Golden Pond. She knew it would probably be the last film her father would make. It was also her effort to reach out to him; to achieve a  reconciliation. Jane Fonda succeeded in every way with  this endearing, heartwarming valentine to her father. 

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 93%
  • Metacritic Score: 68
  • Academy Awards: Winner, Best Actor (Henry Fonda); Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn); Best Screenplay (Ernest Thompson)
  • Golden Globe Awards: Winner, Best Motion Picture, Drama; Best Actor (Henry Fonda); Best Screenplay (Ernest Thompson)
  • Writers Guild of America: Winner, Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium
  • British Academy Film Awards: Winner, Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn)
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.
Roger Ebert


The movie, adapted from the stage play, is still American cheese, but its stars–Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, Jane Fonda, and Dabney Coleman–add more than color to this pasteurized product. ON GOLDEN POND now has the bite of a good old cheddar. 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

The New York Times

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