Terms of Endearment

Terms of Endearment

4.4 9
Director: James L. Brooks

Cast: Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson


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Terms of Endearment covers three decades in the lives of widow Aurora Greenaway (Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Debra Winger). Fiercely protected by Aurora throughout childhood, Emma runs into resistance from her mother when she marries wishy-washy college teacher Flap (Jeff Daniels). Aurora is even more put out at the prospect of being a grandmother,…  See more details below


Terms of Endearment covers three decades in the lives of widow Aurora Greenaway (Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter Emma (Debra Winger). Fiercely protected by Aurora throughout childhood, Emma runs into resistance from her mother when she marries wishy-washy college teacher Flap (Jeff Daniels). Aurora is even more put out at the prospect of being a grandmother, though she grows a lot fonder of her three grandkids than she does of her son-in-law. Flap proves that Aurora's instincts were on target when he enters into an affair with a student (Kate Charleson). Meanwhile, Emma finds romantic consolation with an unhappily married banker (played by John Lithgow, who registers well in a rare "nice guy" performance). As for Aurora, she is ardently pursued by her next-door neighbor, boisterous astronaut Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson). After 75 minutes or so of pursuing an episodic, semi-comic plotline, the film abruptly shifts moods when Emma discovers that she has terminal cancer. Terms of Endearment won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay for TV veteran James L. Brooks making his first feature film, Best Actress for MacLaine, and Best Supporting Actor for Nicholson. It was followed by a sequel, The Evening Star (1996), which again featured MacLaine as Aurora.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Amy Robinson
Adapted from the novel by Larry McMurtry, Terms Of Endearment is a modern, five-hanky classic. It depicts the up-and-down relationship between a mother (Shirley MacLaine) and daughter Debra Winger) through marriage, childbirth, affairs, and tragic illness. Terms Of Endearment is driven almost entirely by dialogue and characterization, and the cast here is uniformly excellent, right down to the smallest parts. MacLaine and Winger deliver two of their best performances, and as an aging astronaut who woos MacLaine into redemptive romance, Jack Nicholson is at his most sensitive and least gimmicky. He conjures up a believable character without sacrificing any of his trademark charisma. Director James L. Brooks never lets the film veer into sentimentality or mawkishness, and his sure-handedness paid off in numerous awards, including an Oscar for Best Picture. A tearjerker with sensitivity and insight that's attuned to the rhythms of ordinary life, Terms Of Endearment is an enduring masterpiece of American film.
All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
Terms of Endearment is almost two films -- an upbeat, comic first half followed by a tearjerking tragedy in which Emma Greenaway (Debra Winger) is stricken with cancer. It is notable for its frank treatment of serious illness and for its intricate portrayal of a troubled mother/daughter relationship.The film was a personal triumph for television veteran James L. Brooks, who took home three Oscars, for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director (his first feature film), and Best Picture. Moreover, the film manages to blend together two of the screen's most dominant performers, Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson, each of whom received an Oscar, perhaps for having the patience not to steal scenes from each other.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Paramount Catalog
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital Mono, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Sales rank:

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Debra Winger Emma Greenaway
Shirley MacLaine Aurora Greenaway
Jack Nicholson Garrett Breedlove
Jeff Daniels Flap
John Lithgow Sam Burns
Huckleberry Fox Teddy
Troy Bishop Tommy
Danny DeVito Vernon
Lisa Hart Carroll Patsy
Betty King Rosie
Norman Bennett Edward
Albert Brooks Rudyard
Kate Charleson Janice
Sharisse Baker-Bernard Lee Anne
Charles Beall Rudyard's Employer
Shane Serwin Young Tommy Horton
Megan Morris Melanie
Tara Yeakey Baby Melanie
Jennifer Josey Young Emma Greenway
Paul Menzel Dr. Maise
F. William Parker Doctor
David Wohl Phil
Alexandra O'Karma Jane
Michelle Watkins Woman
Mary Kay Place Doris
Nancy Mette Woman at Party
Judith Dickerson Checkout Girl

Technical Credits
James L. Brooks Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Andrzej Bartkowiak Cinematographer
Penney Finkelman Cox Co-producer
Sylvia Fay Casting
Michael Gore Score Composer
Martin Jurow Co-producer
Rick Kline Sound/Sound Designer
Richard Marks Editor
Larry McMurtry Screenwriter
Harold Michelson Art Director
Donald O. Mitchell Sound/Sound Designer
Anthony Mondello Set Decoration/Design
Ben Nye Makeup
Tom Pedigo Set Decoration/Design
Polly Platt Production Designer
Albert M. Shapiro Asst. Director
Sandy Veneziano Set Decoration/Design
Sidney Wolinsky Editor
Kristi Zea Costumes/Costume Designer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Terms of Endearment
1. Opening Credits and Prologue [:11]
2. Here Comes the Bride [3:48]
3. Moving Day [1:32]
4. The Astronaut [6:16]
5. Pregnant Again [7:11]
6. Turning 50 [3:24]
7. First Date [3:37]
8. Sleepless Nights [1:55]
9. Goodbyes [5:02]
10. The Doctors [2:40]
11. New York [4:17]
12. The Renoir [6:49]
13. Give My Daughter the Shots [1:35]
14. The Children [5:38]
15. She's Gone [2:12]
16. End Credits [2:45]


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Terms of Endearment 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson are amazing in this movie! Love it!
TigerMax More than 1 year ago
A worthwhile study in character - characters, that is.  The viewer will be surprised to see self in most of the characters in the story at one point or another.  That alone is sufficient reason to watch this n movie again and again.  Each time may bring new revelations.  All actors bropught their best, in keeping with their personal styles (Nicholson, for instance).  How easy to find oneself loving and hating the same character at different times. Truly a story good for introspection.  And the ending could have been maudlin, but wasn't.  Great direction, great acting.  One for the ages, in its categoryh.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I rate the movie from the feminist point of you.Being an ardent fan of Larry Mcmurtry,I could not miss this one.The fascinating thing about the movie is the mother-daughter relationship.Shirley Maclaine and Debra Winger[An Officer and a Gentleman] have performed extraordinarily.Aurora[Maclaine] has problems with daughter Emma[Winger] regarding the latter's love interests. The mother tries in all possible manners to explain the daughter but in vain.Frequent pregnancies,financial lows,spouse's infidelity lead Emma into troubled waters.But there is only one person in this world,after God,who is always there ,the mother.Emma is ailing with cancer where its her mother who takes care of the children and herself who's in the hospital.The scene where Emma breathes her last is so touching that it makes the audience weep.Thanks to the script that finally Aurora unites with her son-in-law.The best of all is the character of Aurora ,the way she handles her exuberant neighbor Garrett Breedlove [Jack Nicholson],her daughter,her dear grandkids,and her own life!A must see picture for one and all!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A very interesting mother, daughter relationship.If fact there are many interesting relationships going on in this movie. This one is worth having in your movie collection so that you can watch it again and again. Each time you will learn more about the human relationships going on in this movie. Some of them you will like, others you will not.
Guest More than 1 year ago
very few ever made are absolutely perfect perfect story, perfect cast, flawless direction...it is just astounding! the hardest laugh and most gut-wrenching cry you'll ever have via the cinema in the same movie! not to be missed EVER!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jack Nicholoson the Astronaut. Brings tears of joy or laughter and inspiration to me. I thought he played a great hound dog to the A personality type of Shirley McClaine. Debra Winger did a performance of a life time in this tear jerker as well as her deplorable husband, Flap, played by Jeff Daniels, another Oscar-worthy performance in my opinion.
Get_Together More than 1 year ago
Wonderful Movie with the twists and turns of the mother (Shirley MacLain) - daughter (Debra Winger) relationship and how that can be so strained but so strong too. The prudish mother even learns to let her hair down and get herself a boyfriend in all of it (Jack Nicholson) I only wish that the makers of this movie would have included the sequel to this movie called The Evening Star (1996) in with this so you could enjoy them both.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago