I am not sure why but when On Golden Pond was originally released to theaters back in 1981 my Family didn’t catch it nor even when it played at our local Drive-In. It was when it hit VHS that it became a regular staple at my Grandparent’s house, so much so that they picked up a copy for themselves and this was back when a new VHS tape was $50!
It has been quite some time since I’ve last seen this film and I can certainly say that watching it 34 years later, I appreciated it far more now than when I originally saw it. Thankfully our friends from Shout! Factory are releasing their Blu-Ray Collector’s Edition today so that you too might have the chance to catch up on such a wonderful film.
The story involves the elderly Norman Thayer Jr. (Henry Fonda) and Ethel (Katharine Hepburn) who are taking a retreat to their Summer home on the lake known as Golden Pond. This is something of a very long standing tradition with the Thayer’s but something has changed this time. Norman is suffering from senility and it has reached so advanced a stage that while they are settling in from their drive to the home he doesn’t even recognize some of their Family photos. When the Thayer’s estranged Daughter, Chelsea (Jane Fonda) shows up with her fiance Bill Ray (a scene stealing Dabney Coleman) and his Son, Billy (Doug McKeon), things get a little tense. Most of that tension coming from Norman’s enjoyment at making Bill’s life miserable while they are guests. Eventually Chelsea asks her parents if it would be okay if they leave Billy in their care while she and Bill take a vacation in Europe. Surprisingly Norman agrees to it, though Ethel has more than a bit to do with that. What follows is a very touching film as the smart aleck Billy and the grumpy Norman find not just common ground…eventually…but the entire Thayer clan and we the viewers are reminded of just how very precious and fragile that Family can be.
[Via] Trailer Gal
Shout! Factory has of course loaded up the Blu-Ray release with special features:
Audio Commentary With Director Mark Rydell
Reflections On Golden Pond Featurette
A Woman Of Substance: Katharine Hepburn Remembered Featurette
On Golden Pond is an incredibly emotional film, more so as this was the only on-screen pairing of the real life Father and Daughter, Henry and Jane Fonda. This was also the last film Henry Fonda would appear in, even at the time of filming he was frail. This was also the first time that Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn had appeared together in a movie, even though they knew each other for quite some time…the hat that Henry wears during the film has a pretty important significance as well, it belonged to the late great Spencer Tracy, and she presented it to Fonda on the first day of filming.
You can pick up On Golden Pond today at most retail stores or of course you can also follow the Shout! Factory link to add the film to your home library collection.