The Info List - Terms Of Endearment

Terms of Endearment is a 1983 American comedy-drama film adapted from Larry McMurtry's 1975 novel, 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 eleven Academy Award nominations and won five. Brooks won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium 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 Emma Greenway-Horton (Debra Winger) are mother and daughter searching for love. Beginning with Emma's marriage, Aurora reveals how difficult and caring she can be. The film centers around several years as they both find their reasons for going on living and finding joy. Aurora finds Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson), the retired astronaut living next door. The relationship between Emma and Aurora comes full circle when Emma is diagnosed with cancer that soon becomes terminal. At the film's end, each shows different ways of expressing love.



Brooks wrote the supporting role of Garrett Breedlove for Burt Reynolds, who turned down the role because of a verbal commitment he had made to appear in Stroker Ace. "There are no awards in Hollywood for being an idiot," Reynolds later said of the decision.[3]

The exterior shots of Aurora's home were filmed at 3060 Locke Lane, Houston, Texas. Larry McMurtry, writer of the novel on which the screenplay was based, had received his M.A. at Rice University, a mere three miles from the home.

The exterior shots of locations intended to be in Des Moines, Iowa, Kearney, Nebraska, and Lincoln, Nebraska, were all filmed in Lincoln, Nebraska. Many scenes were filmed on or near the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.[4] During filming in Lincoln, Debra Winger met the then-governor of Nebraska, Bob Kerrey, and wound up dating him for two years.[5]

MacLaine and Winger did not get along with each other during production.[6][7][8][9] MacLaine confirmed in an interview that "it was a very tough shoot...Chaotic...(Jim) likes working with tension on the set."[10]

On working with Nicholson, MacLaine said "working with Jack Nicholson was crazy"[11] but that his spontaneity may have contributed to her performance.[12] She also said, "We're like old smoothies working together. You know the old smoothies they used to show whenever you went to the Ice Follies. They would have this elderly man and woman--who at that time were 40--and they had a little bit too much weight around the waist and were moving a little slower. But they danced so elegantly and so in synch with each other that the audience just laid back and sort of sighed. That's the way it is working with Jack. We both know what the other is going to do. And we don't socialize or anything. It's an amazing chemistry--a wonderful, wonderful feeling."[9] MacLaine confirmed in an interview with USA Today that Nicholson improvised when he put his hand down her dress in the beach scene.[13]


Box office

Terms of Endearment 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 one 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.[14] The film grossed $108,423,489 in the United States.[2]

Critical reception

The film was generally well regarded by critics and maintains an 88% 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."[15] 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."[16] 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 his movie guide, Leonard Maltin awarded the film a rare four-star rating, calling it a "Wonderful mix of humor and heartache" and concluded the film was "Consistently offbeat and unpredictable, with exceptional performances by all three stars."[17]



The film won five Academy Awards[18] and four Golden Globe Awards:[19]



A sequel to the film, The Evening Star (1996), in which MacLaine and Nicholson reprised their roles, was a critical and commercial failure.


  1. ^ "TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (15)". British Board of Film Classification. December 6, 1983. Retrieved January 27, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Terms of Endearment (1983)". Box Office Mojo. 
  3. ^ "Larry King Live:Burt Reynolds Discusses His Career in Showbiz". February 23, 2000. 
  4. ^ Reeves, Tony. "Filming Locations for Oscar-winner Terms Of Endearment (1983), around Texas and Nebraska". 
  5. ^ "SHORT TAKES : Debra Winger Is Not for Politics". Los Angeles Times. September 12, 1990. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  6. ^ Graham, Mark (6 September 2008). "After All These Years, Debra Winger Still Can't Stand Shirley MacLaine's Guts". Gawker. Archived from the original on June 7, 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  7. ^ Brew, Simon (September 27, 2013). "14 Co-stars Who Really Didn't Get Along". Dennis Publishing. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "Debra Winger: The return of a class act". The Independent. October 24, 2008. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Quin, Eleanor. "TERMS OF ENDEARMENT". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  10. ^ hudsonunionsociety (November 30, 2013). "Shirley MacLaine On Working With Tension On The Set" – via YouTube. 
  11. ^ Ouzuonian, Richard (1 May 2015). "The present life of Shirley MacLaine". Toronto Star. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  12. ^ "Shirley MacLaine on Jack Nicholson: He showed up to set practically nude". Fox News Channel. October 30, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2015. 
  13. ^ Alexander, Bryan (2 March 2017). "Shirley MacLaine tries to bring Jack Nicholson on board 'with every script'". USA Today. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  14. ^ "Terms of Endearment (1983) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-12-05. 
  15. ^ "Terms of Endearment Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 10, 2008. 
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (November 23, 1983). "Terms of Endearment". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 22, 2013. 
  17. ^ Maltin, Leonard. 2013 Movie Guide. Penguin Books. p. 1386. ISBN 978-0-451-23774-3. 
  18. ^ "The 56th Academy Awards (1984) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  19. ^ "NY Times: Terms of Endearment". NY Times. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 

External links