Contributed by: Stephanie
The first draft of the script took a year and a half to write and the 2nd took another year because it was difficult to adapt a novel with so much dialogue and very few descriptions of characters & settings.
Ordinary People was based on the novel of the same name, by Judith Guest.
Gene Hackman was originally cast to play Dr. Berger but couldn't follow through, he was replaced by Judd Hirsch
who completed the filming of his scenes in 8 days so the film wouldn't interfere with the schedule of his show Taxi.
was a student at Julliard during filming. The school allowed her to do the film on the condition that she leave for Chicago each Friday night & return on Sunday, filming only on Saturdays. It was the first time Julliard had ever allowed a student to make a film during the school year!
Contributed by: ChrisKulik
What may be the biggest tragedy for the film's fans is that Robert Redford, reportedly, recorded an audio commentary for the film's initial DVD release in 2000. Mysteriously, Paramount didn't include it on the disc, and it was even absent on the 2006 reissue.
Contributed by: LoverswithCassie
This was Robert Redford's directing debut.
When movies are made, scenes are often
left on the cutting room floor.
Contributed by: Steve Head
As I followed the production to various locations as they were filming, assisting the camera crew whenever I could, they filmed a scene that doesn't appear in the final version of Ordinary People...
The deleted scene is The Lake Forest Day parade. Conrad watches the parade from the sidewalk near the Lake Forest Train Station. He was there in hopes of seeing Janene. And he avoided the leers from his swim team friends who marched in the parade with other Lake Forest High School students.
Incidentally, in this parade scene, Robert Redford (the director) made a quick cameo appearance as one of the High School teachers. In the scene he rides the Lake Forest High school floats. A picture of Robert Redford kicking back on the float appears in the 1980 Lake Forest High School yearbook. And more pictures from the filming of the parade were (and could still be) on the wall of Ferentino's pizza on N. Western Ave., a few blocks north of the train station.
Timothy Hutton and Judd Hirsch came in spoke and about the film when I was a student at Loyola Marymount University in 1981. They mentioned a scene that took two days to set up shoot that was ultimately cut for time.
The beginning and end of the scene are in the film. It takes place in Dr Berger's office when Conrad means to say his mother can't forgive him but inadvertently says he is the one who can't forgive.
In the released version Conrad goes from standing at a window having the revelation to a shot of him slumped in chair exhausted. In between was about 10-minutes in which he talks about not being able to forgive himself for trying to kill himself and not being able to forgive his mother (neither point is clear in the released version).
The scene was difficult to shoot as Robert Redford had the camera mounted on a circular track surrounding the actors. The entire deleted portion of the scene had the camera going in a continuous circle around them as they delivered their dialogue. You can see just a bit of this camera movement as Berger delivers the line "A real problem with a real solution." To which Conrad responds, "I've heard all this before."
I don't know if this scene has ever shown up on any of the VHS or DVD releases. It would be great to see it restored. Once you know that it was cut when you watch the scene as it was released it seems very choppy and unclear.
Trust me you'll notice this next time you watch it.
Sometimes, there will be several versions
of a movie floating about on cable, tv or video etc. Other times, a Director may
release a special cut of the movie.