AMAD: On Golden Pond (1981)
Black Bears, grizzlies. One of ‘em came along here and ate an old lesbian just last month
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Today we follow Jane Fonda over from Klute, jumping a decade later where she co-starred with her father, Henry, in 1981’s ON GOLDEN POND.
The image this film had in my mind was that of a stagey, heavy tearjerker of a romance. It was an inpenatratable, dull and long drama in my mind’s eye.
What nobody told me was that ON GOLDEN POND is fucking hilarious.
Seriously, why isn’t the humor in this film more well known? If I had known it was this funny I wouldn’t have put it off for years.
I guess it’s the posters… they sell only the Old People In Love aspect, but not the humor that being a relationship that long gives the day to day conversation.
That’s why I picked the line I did for the subhead. There are others that might have been better lines or easier to read out of context, but the movie is filled with this kind of humor.
Henry Fonda is a smart ass, a cantankerous old bastard, but Fonda keeps him from becoming a 2-dimensional fogey. He is slowly losing his mental faculties, but this isn’t AWAY FROM HER. The only reason that’s even involved is to flesh out Norman Thayer Jr. as a character. He’s a bit of a mean bastard because he’s afraid.
I think Katherine Hepburn, playing his long suffering, but incredibly loving wife Ethel Thayer (“Thounds like I a lithsp, dothen’t it?”), even has a line where she’s explaining her husband… something like he’s like a lion who needs to roar every once in a while to reassure himself that he still can.
The story takes place during the old couple’s summer at their cabin on Golden Pond. It’s Norman’s 80th Birthday and his estranged daughter comes to visit with her new fiancée and their son.
Fonda plays daughter to her real life father, the only time they worked together and apparently the relationship between Chelsea and Norman was pretty close to the real life relationship between Jane and Henry, so much so that a lot of the emotion we see in their heavier scenes together stem from real life regret, embarrassment and love.
There are a few different relationships in the movie, but the main focus is on Hepburn and Henry Fonda until about halfway through when Jane Fonda and her fiancée (played by the very underappreciated Dabney Coleman) ask her parents to watch her fiancee’s son, a kid in his early teens, for a month.
Doug McKeon plays Billy Ray Jr., who doesn’t appreciate being dumped by his dad and his girlfriend. But young teen angst can’t hold a match to old man crankiness. Billy dishes it out, expecting to get the old couple angry, but all he gets from Hepburn is a loving laugh (afterall, she’s lived with Norman for decades… what’s this kid going to say to shock her?) and from Norman he gets it back in spades. He’s out grumbled.
That relationship turns into a rather sweet grandson/grandparents relationship that reminded me a whole lot of the relationship I have with a pair of older folks that used to look after me when I was a young kid. They became Grandparents to me even though there is no blood to connect them to me, however there was a little bit of Norman in Vic and more than a little of Ethel in Marlene.
So, on that level the film connected with me, but I expect there’s a little bit of everybody’s grandparents in these two characters.
Final thoughts… if you have an image of this movie in your mind as being unapproachable or hard to get into, then just ignore that. This movie is genuinely funny. Yes, it has the drama and the heartfelt aspect, but neither overwhelms the story and the humor of our main characters. This was quite a pleasant surprise.
The schedule for the next 7 days is:
Saturday, July 5th: THE COWBOYS (1972)
Sunday, July 6th: THE ALAMO (1960)
Monday, July 7th: SANDS OF IWO JIMA (1950)
Tuesday, July 8th: WAKE OF THE RED WITCH (1949)
Wednesday, July 9th: D.O.A. (1950)
Thursday, July 10th: SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943)
Friday, July 11th: THE MATCHMAKER (1958)
Tomorrow we follow director Mark Rydell over to 1972’s THE COWBOYS starring John Wayne and Bruce Dern. Happy Fourth everybody!
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
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July 4, 2008, 3:48 p.m. CST
July 4, 2008, 3:49 p.m. CST
"I know...I put it there." "I'm going to have to make some quick maneuvers to catch up with you." "Well, I have some more ties...you can come as Ms. Appley."
July 4, 2008, 3:50 p.m. CST
That's good news, yadda yadda, yadda.
July 4, 2008, 3:51 p.m. CST
by Gwai Lo
At first I assumed your column had been taken over by some Middle Eastern fellow named Amad. Carry on.
July 4, 2008, 3:52 p.m. CST
it is amazing to watch fonda and hepburn work together...she never lost her beauty, wit and charm
July 4, 2008, 3:58 p.m. CST
by Mavra Chang
It's a shame that Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda never worked together (or even met each other) before this because they were great together. It's also fun seeing the pairing of Dabney Coleman with Jane Fonda in a completely different context when compared to their characters from "9-5". Btw Quint, in case you didn't know, there was a made-for-t.v. version of this a few years ago with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Don't know if it's on dvd, but it's also very good if you can find it.
July 4, 2008, 4:25 p.m. CST
allowed for the fact that the phrase 'suck-face' never caught on. Although, I still use it from time to time.
July 4, 2008, 4:39 p.m. CST
by Midnight Thud
Hey Quint, Which stores do you recommend around ATX? Ever since I moved down here from L.A. I feel like nothing has come close to the selection that Amoeba has, but then again I don't think anything does. And aside from everything I Luv Video has to offer, I haven't found any places that actually sell used DVDs. Help a brother out there!
July 4, 2008, 4:41 p.m. CST
That scene used to make me very nervous as a kid. In fact, the whole film made me nervous cause I kept waiting for the old man to get fucked up somehow. But that boat scene with the rocks still makes me nervous now when I think about it.
July 4, 2008, 4:45 p.m. CST
He passed away a few years ago. I always thought that was cool. That he dated Hepburn, not that he passed away, mind you.
July 4, 2008, 4:57 p.m. CST
This is an easy movie to have missed for us thirtysomethings. It didn't look like it had anything to offer me as a kid. I got drug to it and haven't regretted it. Probably the first true "drama" that really grabbed me as a kid. Very funny, very poignant... It's the Godfather of dramas NOT about the mafia
July 4, 2008, 5 p.m. CST
I can't remember if that's an exact quote, but that was one of my favorite quotes from a movie full of them. I didn't much want to see this either, but caught it on HBO back in the day, and watched it everytime it came on, it really is hilarious. Another favorite line, when the kid tells his dad they have a row boat, just like the indians did, Norman says that the Indians used a different grade of aluminum.
July 4, 2008, 5:26 p.m. CST
I never say the phrase "son of a bitch" without doing an impression of Norman saying it.
July 4, 2008, 5:30 p.m. CST
by Major Hockshtetter
I was dragged kicking and screaming to the Strand Theater in Manitowoc to see three movies in and around my 12th year... this, Chariots of Fire, and Ghandi. On Golden Pond was the only one worth a crap, the other two were borderline insufferable (though, perversely, I'd like to check both out again... a lot can change in two decades). What blew me away about this was, indeed, the humor. Fonda Sr. is absolutely playing everyone's grandfather. I kept looking over at my father and we found each other howling knowingly as "the old poop" grumped his way around the cabin. By the way, AMAD has, thus far, been simply awesome. Long may this feature run!!!
July 4, 2008, 5:42 p.m. CST
by Curious Jorge
...was a much better film.
July 4, 2008, 5:50 p.m. CST
by Larry of Arabia
Hepburn is quotable in all her roles but this is my favorite exchange: Billy: So I heard you turned 80 today... man that's really old. Henry: You should meet my father. Billy: Your father's alive? Henry: No, but you should meet him. Btw I live near Westport CT, Hepbrun's home for years and years. I met her once, if you count being scolded for blocking the aisle at a store to read the contents of a pack of saltines as meeting someone. "The ingredients are flour, water, yeast, and SALT. Maybe baking soda or some preservative. Now excuse us please." This was in the 1980's before people actually stopped to read ingredients. How could you reply to that? You just say, "sorry." She had this way of talking that just simply and effectively put you in her place yet making it impossible to hate her.
July 4, 2008, 5:52 p.m. CST
Latest inciting incident in any film. Nearly 30 minutes in. And what do you wait for? The 'big discovery' that Fonda loses his memory sometimes. Jebus Frakin Dumb. That's what this film is. Although, it has nice natural lighting.
July 4, 2008, 6:55 p.m. CST
by Iowa Snot Client
They need to remake this with Jessica Alba and Freddie Prinze Jr.
July 4, 2008, 7:06 p.m. CST
No, but seriously, my girlfriend got me to watch it and I really dug it. That scene with the boat going around the rocks got me on edge as well. There's a bit of sappy cheese in there, but the humor and greatness outweigh it.
July 4, 2008, 7:08 p.m. CST
by Mysterious Bones
...is the the awesome score. One of John Williams best and thats saying something. Its extremely good to listen to just on its own although the CD is pretty hard to find these days for a reasonable price. This was a pretty good clue that he would go on the write some the most memorable music of all time. Oh yeah, I've never even seen the movie so really looking forward to the review.
July 4, 2008, 7:15 p.m. CST
by Crimson Dynamo
He's the kind of mean old bastard I'm aiming for as I get older
July 4, 2008, 7:18 p.m. CST
Now that's cool news!!
July 4, 2008, 7:18 p.m. CST
July 4, 2008, 7:20 p.m. CST
Just check youtube video Green Jello "Little Pig, Little Pig
July 4, 2008, 8:09 p.m. CST
And yeah, the big surprise is that it's hilarious. In fact, it's one of my favorite comedies. I've seen it another 2 times since that initial viewing, both times recommending it to friends. It's in the wrong section of the video store and it has the wrong posters & promotional material. It's just loaded with one liners from title to credits. You old poop!
July 4, 2008, 9:12 p.m. CST
...The Long Goodbye, where he plays gangster Marty Augustine. Very memorable scenes, and one of his henchmen is Conan the Governator himself.
July 4, 2008, 9:22 p.m. CST
feisty broad...and only met her match with spencer tracy...there will never be another hollywood star like her...ever
July 4, 2008, 10:01 p.m. CST
although I did know Jane Fonda from China Syndrome and 9 to 5, and knew Katharine Hepburn from The African Queen, and Henry Fonda from Mr. Roberts, so I liked the cast going into it. It's the kind of movie you can see with your parents and everyone enjoys. Whenever we're up at the cottage my mother still uses the line "we've been peeing indoors for years".<p>Just finished watching The Cowboys. I'm curious to see which of the many great lines Quint uses in the header.
July 5, 2008, 12:27 a.m. CST
July 5, 2008, 1:20 a.m. CST
fonda at his friggin best
July 5, 2008, 9:34 a.m. CST
Watched it quite a lot, at the time. That, Gone with the Wind, and Purple Rain. It was kind of hard to figure out his tastes for things. Great movie. Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn make it a must see. Jane Fonda makes it tedious. That is all.
July 5, 2008, 1:31 p.m. CST
Great Line! And I love the fishing stuff.
July 5, 2008, 2:12 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
I was about to mention the Andrews/Plummer re-make. I caught five minutes of it. I can't say anything about the original or remake as I've only seen about five minutes of each. I wonder if anyone could see beyond Maria and the Captain in the remake.
July 5, 2008, 2:12 p.m. CST
by The Alienist
The term is so engrained into today's lexicon it needs to be said that the term was first used in the film (well actually in the Broadway play the film is based on). I'm sure Quint had heard the term so often he thought it was just the old folks who were confused when Billy used the term. But when I first saw the play, I had NEVER heard the euphemism before either. Laughed and laughed at the idea...
July 5, 2008, 4:59 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
or was it a "Hey, you're almost dead, and we haven't given you one yet when we should have, so here you go" Oscar?
July 5, 2008, 5:26 p.m. CST
Humor is more important than seriousness, in my book. Thusly, he should review the humorous Gremlins 2!
July 5, 2008, 10:20 p.m. CST
Henry Fonda gave a fantastic performance, my personal favorite of his career.
July 5, 2008, 10:50 p.m. CST
July 6, 2008, 5:45 a.m. CST
Do I sound old?
July 6, 2008, 8:24 p.m. CST
and follow the lead. If you haven't seen this before, do so. It is required film watching 101. If you've ever spent the summer with your grandparents, this will strike a chord. As a teenager when this came out I was fortunate to be dating a girl who was smarter than myself. She broadened my tastes in books and films and this is one we went to. If there was only one lesson I learned it was to be respectful of my elders. There is a lot to learn from them. And they are human beings just like the rest of us. Haven't visited this one in awhile. This would be a good one for the collection.
July 7, 2008, 9:59 a.m. CST
I didn't make that up.
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