|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|
|Edited by||Richard Marks|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$108.4 million|
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 became a major critical and commercial success. It grossed $108.4 million at the domestic box office becoming the second-highest grossing film of 1983 and received received a leading eleven nominations at the 56th Academy Awards, and won the highest five; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (for MacLaine), Best Supporting Actor (for Nicholson), and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Widowed Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine) keeps several suitors at arm's length, focusing instead on her close, but controlling, relationship with daughter Emma (Debra Winger). Anxious to escape her mother, Emma marries a callow young college professor Flap Horton (Jeff Daniels) over her mother's objections, moves away, and has three children. Despite their frequent spats and difficulty getting along, Emma and Aurora have a tie between them that cannot be broken, and keep in touch by telephone.
Emma and Flap soon run into financial and marital difficulties. Emma has trouble managing the children and household, and she and Flap both have extramarital affairs. Emma relies increasingly on her mother for emotional support. Meanwhile, the lonely Aurora overcomes her repression, and begins a whirlwind romance with her next-door neighbor, retired astronaut Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson).
The Horton family moves from Houston to Des Moines and eventually to Nebraska, apparently for Flap's career, but mostly so he can be near his girlfriend. Emma is diagnosed with cancer, which becomes terminal. Aurora stays by Emma's side through her treatment and hospitalization, even while dealing with her own pain after Garrett suddenly ends their relationship. The dying Emma shows her love for her mother by entrusting her own children to Aurora's care. After Emma's death, Garrett re-appears in the family's life, and begins to bond with Emma's young children.
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.
The exterior shots of Aurora Greenway'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 and Kearney, Nebraska were instead filmed in Lincoln, Nebraska. Many scenes were filmed on, or near, the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While filming in Lincoln, the state capital, Winger met then-governor of Nebraska Bob Kerrey; the two wound up dating for two years.
MacLaine and Winger reportedly did not get along with each other during production. MacLaine confirmed in an interview that "it was a very tough shoot ... Chaotic...(Jim) likes working with tension on the set."
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.
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. The film grossed $108,423,489 in the United States.
The film was generally well regarded by critics On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an 84% approval rating based on 45 reviews, with a weighted average of 7.6/10. The site's consensus reads: "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."Metacritic reports a score of 79/100 based on reviews from 10 critics, indicating "Generally favorable reviews".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 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".