|Terms of Endearment|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James L. Brooks|
|Produced by||James L. Brooks|
|Written by||James L. Brooks
|Music by||Michael Gore|
|Editing by||Richard Marks|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release date(s)||November 23, 1983|
|Running time||131 min.|
|Followed by||The Evening Star|
Terms of Endearment is a 1983 romantic comedy-drama film adapted by James L. Brooks from the novel by Larry McMurtry and starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, and Jack Nicholson. It covers the relationship between Aurora Greenway (MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Winger). A sequel, The Evening Star, in which MacLaine and Nicholson reprised their roles was released in 1996, to much less acclaim.
Aurora (Shirley MacLaine) and Emma Greenway Horton (Debra Winger) are mother and daughter searching for 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.
The film follows both women across several years as each find their reasons for going on living and finding joy. Emma's marriage to Flap Horton (Jeff Daniels) becomes loveless and she finds a lover in Sam Burns (John Lithgow). Aurora cultivates the attention of several gentlemen in the area but is attracted to the ne'er-do-well retired astronaut Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson), developing a tenuous relationship.
Emma returns home after leaving her husband, having caught her husband flirting with a grad student. There are consequences for Aurora, however: the brief appearance of Emma and her children spooks Garrett into reassessing his relationship with Aurora and breaking it off with her. Emma attempts reconciliation with Flap accepting that they both made mistakes. She ends the relationship with Sam, but discovers that her husband is still cheating on her.
On a scheduled checkup with the doctor, Emma is diagnosed with malignant cancer. After taking a few tests, it is determined to be terminal and incurable. Flap and Aurora remain by her side in the hospital. After discussions with Flap (while not acknowledging his suspicions of her infidelity), Emma and Flap reconcile. Emma talks to her children, telling them both she loves them and even if they disagree, she knows they love her as well.
Aurora maintains a vigil at Emma's side, and is the only person to watch her die - Emma looks at Flap one last time and passes.
At film's end, Emma and Aurora's friends and family gather at Aurora's home for a wake. Tommy, remorseful, is approached by Garrett, who takes his mind off the wake by talking to him about swimming, baseball and being an astronaut. Flap consoles his younger son. The film closes on Aurora, holding her grandchild Melanie.
Actor Jack Nicholson's character, astronaut Garrett Breedlove, does not appear in the novel. The part was created for Burt Reynolds, but he was already committed to another film (Stroker Ace), so it was handed to James Garner. Garner quarreled with the director over differing interpretations. The part then went to Harrison Ford who turned it down because he did not like the age difference between himself and Shirley MacLaine. The role wound up going to Nicholson. Louise Fletcher and Sissy Spacek were the original choices for the mother and daughter roles. Shirley MacLaine, frustrated by the director's sudden changes of conception and Winger's and Nicholson's pranks, quit in mid-production, saying to Brooks, "You can take the Oscar and shove it up your keister." She later returned to the film. One of the supporting actors was Mikhail Baryshnikov in the small role dancer Mike. That was his second movie beside Shirley MacLaine. The film was originally rated R for sexual content and language but re-rated PG on appeal.
The film also was commercially successful. On its opening weekend, it grossed $3.4 million ranking #2 until its second weekend when it grossed $3.1 million ranking #1 at the box office. Three weekends later, it arrived #1 again with $9 million having wide release. For four weekends, it remained #1 at the box office until slipping to #2 on its tenth weekend. On the film's eleventh weekend, it arrived #1 (for the sixth and final time) grossing $3 million. For the last weekends of the film, it later dwindled downward. The film grossed $108,423,489 in the United States.
The film was generally well regarded by critics, and maintains a 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Gene Siskel, who gave the film a highly enthusiastic review, predicted accurately upon its release that it would go on to win the Oscar for Best Picture of 1983. However, playwright Rebecca Gilman disparagingly mentioned Terms of Endearment when discussing dramatic shortcuts. "Look at Terms of Endearment. We’re going along and going along, and there’s not really a plot. Then...oh, she gets cancer. You get it all the time when people don’t quite know what to do, and I think in those cases it is a shortcut to tragedy."
The film is one of the few big Hollywood releases of the 1980s featuring a mono soundtrack, although it has been remixed in Dolby Surround for its DVD release. Hospital scenes were filmed at Lincoln General Hospital (now BryanLGH) in Lincoln, Nebraska. Future rocker Matthew Sweet appeared as an extra.
|Awards and achievements|
|Academy Award for Best Picture
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
|Golden Globe for Best Picture - Drama