In the northern New Hampshire town of Holderness, just across Lake Winnipesaukee from Squam Lake, where On Golden Pond was filmed, you can still see the boat harbor that was used to refuel Ethel and Norman Thayer's vintage Chris-Craft wooden fishing boat. The town's main street, which wraps around the pristine lake, looks much the same as it did when Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda rolled in to shoot the movie. And the loons, which starred in the film, still ply their trade, calling in their distinctive, haunting cries.
Released in December of 1981, the family drama On Golden Pond became a smash hit, with Fonda and Hepburn earning Oscars for their roles and screenwriter Ernest Thompson winning the Best Screenplay award at the 54th Academy Awards. It was the second highest-grossing film of 1981, behind Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The movie tells the story of the elderly widowed couple Norman and Ethel Thayer, who spend their summers at a cottage on Golden Pond in the New England countryside. The crusty, retired professor Norman is showing signs of senility and has a difficult relationship with his daughter Chelsea. But when he and his wife agree to watch her stepson Billy during her European vacation, they develop a close bond.
The movie's evocative scenery, touching plot and star power made it a smash success when it was released, and its staying power shows no sign of waning. In fact, in 2011, it was ranked number 13 on the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 comedy films.
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