Terms of Endearment
|Terms of Endearment|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James L. Brooks|
|Produced by||James L. Brooks|
|Screenplay by||James L. Brooks|
|Based on||Terms of Endearment
by Larry McMurtry
|Music by||Michael Gore|
|Editing by||Richard Marks|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||131 minutes|
Terms of Endearment is a 1983 drama film adapted from the eponymous novel by Larry McMurtry directed, written, and produced by James L. Brooks and starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels, and John Lithgow. The film covers 30 years of the relationship between Aurora Greenway (MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Winger).
The film received 11 Academy Award nominations and won five. Brooks won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) while MacLaine won the Academy Award for Best Actress and Nicholson won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In addition, it won four Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actress in a Drama (MacLaine), Best Supporting Actor (Nicholson), and Best Screenplay (Brooks).
Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Debra Winger) are mother and daughter, both searching for deep romantic love. Beginning with Emma's early childhood, Aurora reveals how difficult and caring she can be by nearly climbing into Emma's crib in order to make sure her daughter is breathing—only to be reassured once Emma starts crying (after physically waking her up). After the death of Aurora's husband and Emma's father Rudyard (A. Brooks), Aurora and Emma have an extremely close love-hate mother/daughter relationship as Emma grows up.
The film follows both women across several years as each find their reasons for going on living and finding joy. Emma gets married immediately upon graduating high school in the Houston area to Flap Horton (Jeff Daniels), of whom Aurora so disapproves that she refuses to attend the wedding. Emma's best friend Patsy Clark (Lisa Hart Caroll) continues on to college and eventually becoming successful and rich in New York City. Emma has two children that she and Flap, who eventually becomes a college professor, struggle to support in Des Moines, Iowa, and she later telephones her mother and asks for money when she is pregnant with her third child. Aurora, not knowing by the telephone call that Emma is already several months pregnant, wants Emma to get an abortion. Emma's once-passionate marriage to Flap becomes strained, thanks mostly to his philandering, and she eventually has a romantic love affair with married, small-town, older banker Sam Burns (John Lithgow).
At the same time, Aurora remains celibate but cultivates the attention of several gentlemen in the area, some rather bizarre. However, she is attracted to her next door neighbor of 15 years, the womanizing, alcoholic retired astronaut Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson). Aurora and Garrett eventually go on a lunch date, make love, and develop a tenuous relationship.
Emma returns to her mother's home in Houston after discovering her husband is having an affair with a young grad student named Janice (Kate Charleson). However, Emma's appearance along with her three children makes Garrett uncomfortable, as he has been single for a long time. While Emma is in Houston, Flap telephones her, and she reluctantly returns home to Iowa, trying reconciliation with him. After re-assessing his relationship with Aurora, Garrett breaks up with her, greatly upsetting her.
Emma ends the relationship with Sam after Flap accepts a new teaching position in Kearney, Nebraska. Although she does not want to, Emma agrees to relocate to further Flap's career. However, Emma soon discovers that Janice is attending the same college where Flap now works, realizing that Flap followed her to Nebraska. With her daughter Melanie (Megan Morris) in a stroller, Emma confronts Janice before taking Melanie to the doctor's office so both can get flu shots. While administering the injection, Emma's doctor notices two large lumps under Emma's armpit. Although Emma is only in her 30s, the doctor orders a biopsy and discovers she has a malignancy.
Patsy invites Emma to New York City for her first vacation without her children. However, after arriving, Emma feels out-of-place amongst Patsy's friends and returns home early to begin treatment for her illness. Later, her doctor informs her that the drugs she was taking did not have the desired effect, and that she will not survive her illness. Flap and Aurora remain by her bedside in the hospital for weeks. Although devastated and exhausted, Aurora is still very supportive and loving towards Emma. Garrett flies to Lincoln, Nebraska, and surprises Aurora, and the two proclaim their love for each other.
After a discussion in the hospital cafeteria between Aurora and Flap, in which Aurora tells him that he does not have the energy for a job, chasing women, and managing a family, Aurora tells Flap that she should raise his and Emma's children in Houston. Although Patsy, who has no children of her own, wants to adopt Melanie, Flap and Emma do not want their children to be separated. Emma, not wanting Janice to raise her children, and Flap, feeling like a failure as both a father and a husband, agree that living with Aurora is best for their children.
As Emma's time begins to run short, Emma's eldest son Tom "Tommy" (Troy Bishop) shows open resentment toward his mother due to circumstances such as social class, fights between his parents, and Tommy's perception of feeling unloved. Emma reassures her two sons that they are loved, and after an altercation with Aurora, Tommy weeps in Aurora arms. Emma dies later that night. Following Emma's funeral, Emma and Aurora's friends and family gather in Aurora's backyard for a memorial service. Garrett shows love toward each of Emma's children and helps Tommy cope during the wake. The film closes on Aurora, sitting next to Melanie.
Cast (in end credits order) 
- Shirley MacLaine - Aurora Greenway
- Debra Winger - Emma Greenway Horton
- Jack Nicholson - Garrett Breedlove
- Danny DeVito - Vernon Dahlart
- Jeff Daniels - Flap Horton
- John Lithgow - Sam Burns
- Lisa Hart Caroll - Patsy Clark
- Betty R. King - Rosie Dunlop
- Huckleberry Fox - Ted "Teddy" Horton
- Troy Bishop - Tom "Tommy" Horton
- Shane Serwin - Younger Tom "Tommy" Horton
- Megan Morris - Melanie Horton
- Tara Yeakey - Baby Melanie Horton
- Edward Johnson - Norman Bennett
- Jennifer Josey - Young Emma Greenway
- Kate Charleson - Janice
- Tom Wees - Dr. Budge
- Paul Menzel - Dr. Maise
- F. William Parker - Doctor
- Amanda Watkins - Meg
- Buddy Gilbert - Dr. Ratcher
- David Wohl - Phil
- Shelley K. Nielsen - Nurse
- Bette Croissant - Nurse
- Charles Beall - Rudyard Greenway's employer
- Lelise Folse (voiced dubbed by Mary Kay Place) - Doris
- Sharisse Baker - Lee Anne
- Judith A. Dickerson - Checkout girl
- Devon O'Brien - Lizbeth
- Dana Vance - Victoria
- Alexandra O'Karma - Woman at party
- Holly Beth Holmberg - T. J.
- Lear Levin - Jack Stern
- A. Brooks (voice) - Rudyard Greenway
- Lanier Whilden - Patsy Clark's mother
- Helen Stauffer - Flap Horton's secretary
- Barbara Balik - Woman
- Michelle Watkins - Woman
- John C. Conger - Moving man
- Sandra Newkirk - Mrs. Johnson
- Elaine McGown - Elaine McGown
Box office 
The film was commercially successful. On its opening weekend, it grossed $3.4 million ranking number two until its second weekend when it grossed $3.1 million ranking #1 at the box office. Three weekends later, it arrived number one again with $9,000,000 having wide release. For four weekends, it remained number at the box office until slipping to number two on its tenth weekend. On the film's 11th weekend, it arrived number one (for the sixth and final time) grossing $3,000,000. For the last weekends of the film, it later dwindled downward. The film grossed $108,423,489 in the United States.
Critical reception 
The film was generally well regarded by critics and maintains an 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus, "A classic tearjerker, Terms of Endearment isn't shy about reaching for the heartstrings -- but is so well-acted and smartly scripted that it's almost impossible to resist." Roger Ebert gave the film a four-out-of-four star rating, calling it "a wonderful film" and stating, "There isn't a thing that I would change, and I was exhilarated by the freedom it gives itself to move from the high comedy of Nicholson's best moments to the acting of Debra Winger in the closing scenes." Gene Siskel, who gave the film a highly enthusiastic review, correctly predicted upon its release that it would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1983.
In an interview with Barbara Walters, Bette Davis said "At least Terms of Endearment was an authentic film about relationships, and I must say that Miss Shirley MacLaine gave an outstanding performance, but then she's always good."
- Academy Award for Best Picture - (James L. Brooks)
- Academy Award for Directing – (James L. Brooks)
- Academy Award for Best Actress – (Shirley MacLaine)
- Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor – (Jack Nicholson)
- Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay – (James L. Brooks)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Drama
- Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama – (Shirley MacLaine)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – (Jack Nicholson)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay - Motion Picture – (James L. Brooks)
- DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures – (James L. Brooks)
- New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film
- New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress - (Shirley MacLaine)
- New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor - (Jack Nicholson)
- National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress - (Debra Winger)
- Texas Film Award 2010 
- Academy Award for Best Actress – (Debra Winger)
- Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor – (John Lithgow)
- Academy Award for Best Art Direction - (Polly Platt, Harold Michelson, Tom Pedigo, and Anthony Mondell)
- Academy Award for Film Editing – (Richard Marks)
- Academy Award for Original Music Score – (Michael Gore)
- Academy Award for Best Sound – (Donald O. Mitchell, Rick Kline, Kevin O'Connell, and James R. Alexander)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama – (Debra Winger)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Director – (James L. Brooks)
- BAFTA Award for Best Actress – (Shirley MacLaine)
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- Aurora: "Would you like to come in?" Garrett: "I'd rather stick needles in my eyes."
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition)
- "Terms of Endearment (1983) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
- "Terms of Endearment (1983)". Box Office Mojo.
- "Terms of Endearment Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
- Ebert, Roger (23 November 1983). "Terms of Endearment". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
- "The 56th Academy Awards (1984) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-09.
- "NY Times: Terms of Endearment". NY Times. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Terms of Endearment|
- Terms of Endearment at the Internet Movie Database
- Terms of Endearment at AllRovi
- Terms of Endearment at Box Office Mojo
- Terms of Endearment at Rotten Tomatoes