AFI Movie Club: ON GOLDEN POND – American Film Institute
On Golden Pond Film Still - Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn



The story of a New England summer that brings generations of a family together – while also revealing the emotional baggage between them – ON GOLDEN POND stars father and daughter AFI Life Achievement Award recipients Henry and Jane Fonda, as well as AFI’s #1 ranked screen legend of all time, Katharine Hepburn. The film also appears across three of AFI’s lists of America’s greatest films, earning its place along cinema’s defining love stories, triumphs and film scores.

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Watch Glenn Close introduce ON GOLDEN POND:

Movie Trivia about ON GOLDEN POND

DID YOU KNOW? ON GOLDEN POND is adapted by Ernest Thompson from his own 1979 play of the same name – which Jane Fonda and producer Bruce Gilbert acquired as a vehicle for her to co-star in alongside her famous father, Henry Fonda, for the very first time.

DID YOU KNOW? For the primary New Hampshire location of ON GOLDEN POND, an existing one-story residence was fashioned with a new wing that added two upstairs rooms and a balcony, and the set was dressed with personal items supplied by the Fondas and Katharine Hepburn – including a photograph of young Hepburn standing beside a plane during flight training and a picture of Fonda in his youth examining model airplanes with his friend, actor James Stewart.

DID YOU KNOW? During the production of ON GOLDEN POND, star Jane Fonda led early morning aerobics classes for the cast and crew.

DID YOU KNOW? When Katharine Hepburn arrived on set, she brought a special gift for co-star Henry Fonda – a cap that her longtime partner Spencer Tracy always wore on set during his own illustrious film career.

DID YOU KNOW? ON GOLDEN POND made its world premiere on November 18, 1981, at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, CA, as a benefit for the American Film Institute’s new campus in Hollywood.

DID YOU KNOW? ON GOLDEN POND marked Henry Fonda’s final performance in a theatrically released feature film before his death on August 12, 1982. Several reviews noted that the strength of Fonda’s role was due, in part, to its reflection of his true life – including his relationship with daughter and co-star Jane Fonda.

DID YOU KNOW? ON GOLDEN POND was remade as a stage musical and as a 2001 CBS television movie starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. A Broadway revival of Ernest Thompson’s original play opened in 2005 at the Cort Theater, starring Leslie Uggams and James Earl Jones – though it closed early due to Jones coming down with pneumonia.

DID YOU KNOW? The film received three Academy Awards® – Best Actor for Henry Fonda, Best Actress for Katharine Hepburn and Best Adapted Screenplay for Ernest Thompson. It also earned additional nominations including Best Picture, Best Director (Mark Rydell), Best Supporting Actress (Jane Fonda), Best Cinematography (Billy Williams), Best Film Editing (Robert L. Wolfe), Best Original Score (Dave Grusin) and Best Sound (Richard Portman, David Ronne).

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-Why do you think Norman Thayer makes so many references to his own mortality?

-How are his age and health important to the themes of the film?

-In what ways do Norman and Ethel Thayer convey the depth of their long history together? How would you describe their marriage?

-Why is it so important for Jane Fonda’s Chelsea to perform a backflip?

-In what ways does the real-life father/daughter relationship of stars Henry and Jane Fonda inform and affect the story of ON GOLDEN POND? Do you think their actual dynamic affects how they relate to each other on screen? Does their well-documented relationship inform how the audience sees them in their roles? How?

-Given their visibility as two of cinema’s most legendary stars, might those same external factors also apply to the relationship between Katharine Hepburn’s Ethel Thayer and Henry Fonda’s Norman Thayer? How does the casting of two such iconic stars affect how the audience consumes their performances?

-How would you rate ON GOLDEN POND?


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