Looong before I started watching romantic comedies, I had a favorite movie that I watched over and over and over again. The house was so rustic. The setting on a lake was heaven to me,and Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn were perfectly cast as the aging Norman and Ethel Thayer. (He won an Oscar for best actor. She won for best actress.) The piano score for the soundtrack was played on our stereo more times than my husband would like to remember.
On Golden Pond. It began as a play written by Ernest Thompson. When Jane Fonda saw it, she decided she wanted to make it into a movie and have her father play the lead role. This would be her gift to him. So she purchased the movie rights and hired Ernest Thompson to write the screenplay…something he had never done before. (He won an Oscar for it.)
And long before I started writing this blog, I had hoped that someone would do a post on the house in the movie, but no one ever did. (Or at least I have never been able to find one.) So this post is selfishly for me. The house is not what we would call “pretty” today, but this movie always makes me feel good (even though the language in it is pretty bad).
Almost all of the interior scenes take place in the big living area. I did like the green wicker chair that Jane Fonda is sitting in in this scene.Very little of the kitchen is shown, but you can tell the porch is right off of it.
It has such a look of an old lake house.
And you know I loved that wrap around porch. In this scene, they are cleaning fish out on the porch.
There is one shot of the stairs leading up to the second floor, but you only see it reflected in the bedroom vanity mirror. I love that it has a window there above the stained beadboard that is hung horizontally. The second floor was added to the house specifically for the movie.
And we never really get to see an entire bedroom – or even a bed for that matter. Remember this was originally written to be a play with very few set changes. But there is one scene that does take place in what appears to be Norman and Ethel’s bedroom as they are getting ready to go fishing. You can see a couple of pieces of furniture in it here.
Now let’s move outside the house to the boats. I think they are important to the story line in On Golden Pond. In an early scene in the movie, Norman and Ethel are seen canoeing out on the lake. Katharine Hepburn had hurt her shoulder in a game of tennis before filming started, but she picked up the hundred pound canoe and began carrying it to the shore. This particular scene was cut in production, and Katharine Hepburn was reportedly NOT happy about it.
Of course the beautiful wooden motor boat was my favorite.
It was named Thayer IV, and I believe there were three and a half (really!) of them used in filming.
A couple of years ago the Thayer IV sold on Ebay for $47,000. It has since been completely restored to its movie appearance (in just six months!) by Katz’s Marina. This has been major news among Chris Craft fans. You can read more about the restoration and see a video of its first trip in the water here.
And a little more movie history for you. Did you know that Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn had never starred in a movie together prior to On Golden Pond? And more than that…they had never even met.
Both of the main characters were in their seventies when the movie was being made. Henry Fonda was in very poor health, and the crew was quite concerned for him. At one point, the canoe he and Katharine Hepburn were in capsized due to the wake of a passing motorboat. Mr. Fonda had to be wrapped in blankets for awhile. He wore a wetsuit for another scene in which he was to be filmed in the water, but Ms. Hepburn actually dove off the bow of a boat and swam over to him in this same scene – wearing only her regular clothes. This was in September, and the water was quite cold.
I am sorry the photo above is blurry, but I want you to take a good look at the house. This is the home in New Hampshire that was used for the movie set. Now take a look at this home.
Look familiar?This home in New Hampshire on Squam Lake is available for rent, and this gazebo is also on the property.
Perhaps you recognize it also.
I think we need a trip to New Hampshire! If you happen to be in that area near Holderness, there are boat tours that take you to sites around Squam Lake that were featured in the movie. That would be a lot of fun to me.
So what are you up to this weekend? A boat trip on a gorgeous lake? Watching a movie, or perhaps just catching up on chores at home? Whatever you have planned, I hope your weekend is enjoyable.
Until next time…