Oscars Project: Movie #14

(Explanation of the Oscars Project found here. And need I say it? This post contains SPOILERS.)

Trying to get caught up here. . .

From 1981: On Golden Pond

Summary: Senior couple Ethel (Katharine Hepburn) and Norman (Henry Fonda) arrive at the summer cabin somewhere in New England with different ideas of how the summer's going to go. Ethel plans on picking strawberries and hanging out with the loons; Norman is painfully aware he's losing his mind and thinks he might be gone by the end of the summer.

Enter dippy and distant daughter Chelsea (Jane Fonda) with slightly uptight boyfriend and boyfriend's teenage son. Peske and West incorrectly state that Chelsea "flees to the city, inexplicably leaving" the boyfriend's son behind (p. 70). Um, no. She went to Europe with the boyfriend (where they abruptly get married). . . there's kind of a reasonable need for someone to watch the kid in that case. Whatever, ladies.

Of course, Norman is all crotchety and doesn't like the kid at first, but eventually they start going fishing together in search of the elusive trout nicknamed "Walter." Yes, they catch Walter. I seriously thought Norman was going to buy the farm after that, but no, he doesn't, in spite of an accident he and the boy get into because he's all mixed up and they hit some rocks. He's way too stubborn to die.

The movie wraps up with Chelsea's return and her sort of reconciliation with Norman (after Ethel urges her to leave behind her baggage of being the "fat girl who never could do anything right" in her father's eyes--an oddly handled side story too shallowly dealt with in the film). Ethel and Norman share a final moment of care and concern for each other when Norman suffers a bit of heart trouble, and Ethel seems finally cognizant of Norman's (and their relationship's) mortality. They close up the summer cabin with hopes but no illusions that they will be back again.

Overall, not particularly a movie I loved, but it told a good story. It was based on a play, so that might explain a few things. I did like watching Hepburn and Fonda together. The edition of the movie I watched contained a little tribute to her (either she recently had died, or it was the 10th anniversary of the movie--not clear to me), and it was interesting to learn that while both actors had been in show business at pretty much the same time, they never had met until they worked together on this film. They were great at portraying a couple that had been together a long time.

The Oscar Movies book said that this film "established Hepburn as the only performer in Oscar history to earn four major acting awards--a record that is likely to stand for several years to come." I think it still stands today.

Another interesting stat:
"All four of the acting awards winners were elderly, aging actors --the oldest collection of acting winners ever assembled, averaging 70.75 years old."

And you hear all the time that you have to be young and beautiful to get anywhere in show biz.

Next up: Chariots of Fire (one of this film's competition for awards that year)

I realized I forgot to mention which other movies are coming up for this chapter:


Out of Africa

An Officer and a Gentleman

Play along at home, if you'd like.


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