Henry Fonda won his only Oscar from his second and final acting nomination for portraying Norman Thayer in On Golden Pond.
Anyways enough about corn, now on to Fonda's performance. This was Henry Fonda's final film role, and it has a certain quality about it that only exists in the final roles for great actors. Fonda is just about perfect in the role of Norman Thayer. He finds the perfect precise way to have him a likable old man despite being a bit grumpy at times. He is simply great with Katharine Hepburn as Norman's wife Ethel, their chemistry is simply amazing together. They play off each other wonderfully, and show a history of the Thayer's that actually works quite well. They show that they love each other, but do this in the right amount. Their little comic squabbles is well handled by both of them in a way that does actually seem fairly authentic even if the exact language is not always the same way.
Fonda also is terrific in his moments where he shows the purposefully abrasive side of Norman, especially in his scene where he talks with his Daughter's (Jane Fonda) current fiancee. Fonda is great and incredibly effortless as he purposely tries to push his buttons. Fonda gets the right amount of humor, in the scene well showing a different slightly less gentle side of Norman. Fonda is incredibly strong because he plays it so wonderfully in traditional Henry Fonda style. The way he does the whole scene but simply sitting in the chair as he tears at the guy, and keeps his gentle old man way the whole time anyways.
I think if Fonda was not Norman this film might of completely failed, but his Norman keeps the film interesting, because he himself never really becomes corny in his portrayal even if he might have to say a corny thing or two. Fonda finds the right tone for the film for his character to work. He mixes the humor of the character, but also finds the right amount of poignancy in the character's aging, and growing health problems. He is of course also great with his actual daughter. There is even an extra layer that is derived from his major scene with her since supposedly their real relationship was similar. This does not matter exactly, but Henry Fonda makes a real emotionally true final moment together in the film, that is simply outstanding. Overall Fonda gives a interesting memorable portrayal, that is truly worthy to be his final film performance.