7.8/10
38,384
295 user 54 critic

Ordinary People (1980)

The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.

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Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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3,034 ( 528)

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Won 4 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
...
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Swim Coach
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...
...
Joe
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Ray (as James B. Sikking)
...
Sloan
...
Ward (as Quinn Redeker)
...
Meg Mundy ...
Grandmother
Elizabeth Hubbard ...
Ruth
...
Stillman
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Storyline

Beth, Calvin, and their son Conrad are living in the aftermath of the death of the other son. Conrad is overcome by grief and misplaced guilt to the extent of a suicide attempt. He is in therapy. Beth had always preferred his brother and is having difficulty being supportive to Conrad. Calvin is trapped between the two trying to hold the family together. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Everything is in its proper place... Except the past. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 February 1981 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Gente como uno  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$54,800,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the book Conrad learns of Karen's suicide through an article in the newspaper; in the movie he learns because he calls her home and someone (it seems like her father) tells him over the phone. See more »

Goofs

When Karen and Conrad are at the restaurant and Karen is leaving, the glass of Coke that Conrad ordered but never touched has disappeared from where it was on the table. See more »

Quotes

Beth Jarrett: Calvin? Why are you crying? Can I, uh... can I get you something?
Calvin "Cal" Jarrett: I don't...
Beth Jarrett: What did you say? Calvin, what did you say? Tell me!
Calvin "Cal" Jarrett: You are beautiful. And you are unpredictable. But you're so cautious. You're determined, Beth; but you know something? You're not strong. And I don't know if you're really giving. Tell me something. Do you love me? You really love me?
Beth Jarrett: I feel the way I've always felt about you.
Calvin "Cal" Jarrett: We would have been alright, if there hadn't been any mess. But you can't handle mess. You ...
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Connections

Referenced in House M.D.: Let Them Eat Cake (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by all at the party
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User Reviews

 
Stunning insight into a family falling apart.
30 January 2005 | by (CT) – See all my reviews

"Ordinary People" deserved its Oscar. There was such fierce competition in 1980 that winning the award was a real honor. The movie should have shared honors with "Coal Miner's Daughter".

Having said that, the reality of the movie is so heartbreaking and so real that you feel every emotion and understand the characters feelings, whether you liked them or not. Mary Tyler Moore's performance of Beth Jarrett is so powerful that you forget Moore's comedic repertoire and immerse yourself into her persona as a cold, distant wife that can not show emotion for her son. It is disturbing that Beth can not show Conrad love and it breaks your heart when you see the awkwardness as he tries so hard to get any love or recognition from her. Her breakdown scene at the golf course and the realization at the end of the movie that she is incapable of affectionate love are powerful performances.

Donald Sutherland's understated and beautiful performance is brilliant. His making up for Beth's shortcomings as an affectionate human being are so touching. He does all he can to keep the rest of his family together. Why he was not nominated for an Oscar is beyond comprehension.

Timothy Hutton absolutely shines as the troubled Conrad. All you want to do is hug him, love him, after his rejections from his own mother. The torture and pain he is in is portrayed so stunningly. His guilt over the death of his brother and subsequent depression are heartbreaking.

Growing up in suburban America, the film rings many a truth to the insights of what people perceive as a "normal family". The cocktail parties, the school activities, the socialization of Beth and her friends over the recognition of her son do happen in suburban America. Robert Redford recognized every real detail of the facades that people put up and the reality of what happens at home. They are poignantly and chillingly realized.

Definitely one of the most deserved Best Picture Oscars given. Please don't miss this one.


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