IMDb > Terms of Endearment (1983)
Terms of Endearment
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Terms of Endearment (1983) More at IMDbPro »

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Down 2% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Larry McMurtry (based on the novel by)
James L. Brooks (screenplay)
View company contact information for Terms of Endearment on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
9 December 1983 (USA) See more »
Come to Laugh, Come to Cry, Come to Care, Come to Terms.
Aurora and Emma are mother and daughter who march to different drummers. Beginning with Emma's marriage... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Won 5 Oscars. Another 32 wins & 10 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
As comedic and dramatic as life can get ... See more (147 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Shirley MacLaine ... Aurora Greenway

Debra Winger ... Emma Horton

Jack Nicholson ... Garrett Breedlove

Danny DeVito ... Vernon Dahlart

Jeff Daniels ... Flap Horton

John Lithgow ... Sam Burns

Lisa Hart Carroll ... Patsy Clark
Betty King ... Rosie Dunlop (as Betty R. King)

Huckleberry Fox ... Teddy Horton

Troy Bishop ... Tommy Horton
Shane Serwin ... Younger Tommy Horton
Megan Morris ... Melanie Horton
Tara Yeakey ... Baby Melanie
Norman Bennett ... Edward Johnson
Jennifer Josey ... Young Emma
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 (as Shelley K. Nielsen R.N.)
Bette Croissant ... Nurse
Charles Beall ... Rudyard's Employer
Lelise Folse ... Doris
Sharisse Baker-Bernard ... Lee Anne (as Sharisse Baker)
Judy Dickerson ... Checkout Girl (as Judith A. Dickerson)
Devon O'Brien ... Lizbeth
Dana Vance ... Victoria
Alexandra O'Karma ... Jane
Nancy Mette ... Woman at Party (as Nancy E. Mette)
Holly Holmberg Brooks ... T.J. (as Holly Beth Holmberg)
Lear Levin ... Jack Stern

Albert Brooks ... Rudyard's Voice (voice) (as A. Brooks)
Lanier Whilden ... Patsy's Mother
Helen Stauffer ... Flap's Secretary
Barbara Balik ... Woman
Michelle Watkins ... Woman
John C. Conger ... Moving Man
Sandra Newkirk ... Mrs. Johnson
Elaine McGown ... Elaine McGown

Mary Kay Place ... Doris (voice)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Peg Sheldrick ... Hospital Patient (uncredited)

Directed by
James L. Brooks 
Writing credits
Larry McMurtry (based on the novel by)

James L. Brooks (screenplay)

Produced by
James L. Brooks .... producer
Penney Finkelman Cox .... co-producer (as Penney Finkelman)
Martin Jurow .... co-producer
Original Music by
Michael Gore (music composed by)
Cinematography by
Andrzej Bartkowiak (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Richard Marks 
Casting by
Ellen Chenoweth 
Juliet Taylor 
Production Design by
Polly Platt 
Art Direction by
Harold Michelson 
Set Decoration by
Anthony Mondell (set decorations)
Tom Pedigo (set decorations)
Costume Design by
Kristi Zea 
Makeup Department
Gerry Leetch .... hair stylist (as Gerry Becker Leetch)
Ben Nye Jr. .... makeup
Kaye Pownall .... hair stylist
Bron Roylance .... makeup artist
Julie C. Steffes .... body makeup
Production Management
Austen Jewell .... unit production manager
Ira Marvin .... unit production supervisor: New York
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Marty P. Ewing .... second assistant director
Joel Segal .... dga trainee (as Joel B. Segal)
Albert M. Shapiro .... first assistant director (as Albert Shapiro)
Art Department
Terry E. Lewis .... property master
David Q. Quick .... assistant props
John J. Rutchland Jr. .... construction coordinator (as John J. Rutchland)
Sandy Veneziano .... set designer
Richard A. Villalobos .... leadman
Thomas J. Wright .... storyboard illustrator (as Thomas Wright)
Sound Department
James R. Alexander .... sound mixer (as James Alexander)
Terry Lynn Allen .... sound editor
Cheryl Bloch .... sound assistant
Irene Bowers .... sound assistant
Norval D. Crutcher .... supervising sound editor
Samuel C. Crutcher .... sound editor
Joanne D'Antonio .... sound editor
Bruce Fortune .... sound assistant (as Bruce D. Fortune)
Cecelia Hall .... sound editor
Rick Kline .... re-recording mixer
Barbara Fallick Marks .... dialogue looping editor
Donald O. Mitchell .... re-recording mixer
Kevin O'Connell .... re-recording mixer
Andrew Patterson .... sound editor
Jerry Rosenthal .... sound editor
James Sabat .... sound mixer: New York
Larry Singer .... dialogue looping editor
Stephen Stalheim .... sound apprentice (as Stephen M. Stalheim)
George Watters II .... sound editor
Greg Agalsoff .... boom operator (uncredited)
Greg Orloff .... foley recordist (uncredited)
Mark Server .... boom operator (uncredited)
Clive Taylor .... sound recordist (uncredited)
Jeannie Epper .... stunts
Alan Gibbs .... stunts (as Alan R. Gibbs)
Alan Gibbs .... stunt double: Jack Nicholson (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Dustin Blauvelt .... first assistant camera
Maggie Fox .... second assistant camera
Steven Hiller .... second assistant camera (as Steve Hiller)
Billy Miller .... key grip
Dick Mingalone .... camera operator: New York
Don Reddy .... camera operator
Zade Rosenthal .... still photographer
Dusty Wallace .... gaffer
Doug Willis .... dolly grip (as Douglas Willis)
Jack E. McLean Jr. .... electrician (uncredited)
Casting Department
Jackie Beavers .... location casting: Nebraska
Sylvia Fay .... casting: bits and extras, New York
Paula Herold .... casting associate
Liz Keigley .... location casting: Texas, Doster-Keigley and Rhodes
Shari Rhodes .... location casting: Texas, Doster-Keigley and Rhodes
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Tony Faso .... costumer: men's (as Anthony J. Faso)
Oda Groeschel .... costumer: women's
Jennifer L. Parsons .... costumer: women's
Mark Burchard .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Albert Coleman .... assistant editor
Larry Fallick .... apprentice editor
Jeff Freeman .... assistant editor
Jane Schwartz Jaffe .... first assistant editor
Lee Rasson .... apprentice editor
Sidney Wolinsky .... additional film editor
Music Department
Bob Badami .... music editor (as Robert Badami)
Richard Hazard .... conductor
Richard Hazard .... orchestrator
Dan Wallin .... music recording mixer
Transportation Department
Michael McDuffee .... transportation coordinator
Chris Haynes .... driver (uncredited)
Dan Marrow .... transportation captain (uncredited)
Marti Wells .... driver (uncredited)
Other crew
Kimberly Allen .... support personnel
Lea Andrews .... secretary: Austen Jewell
Brian Brosnan .... location manager: Nebraska
David Davis .... special advisor
Rosemary Dorsey .... script supervisor
Barbara Duncan .... assistant: James L. Brooks
Wayne Fitzgerald .... title design
Harold Fowler .... first aid
Paul Germain .... support personnel
Mark Gutierrez .... support personnel
Mark Harrah .... technical advisor
Sandra Rabins .... location auditor
Meta Rebner .... script supervisor (as Meta D. Wilde)
Anne Thompson .... unit publicist
Susan Vogelfang .... location manager: Texas
Ron Mitchell .... production assistant (uncredited)
Sheila Exstrom .... the producers would like to thank: for his contributions to the making of "Terms of Endearment" (as Sheila Exstrom R.N. C.N.A.A.)
Timothy S. Gee .... the producers would like to thank: for his contributions to the making of "Terms of Endearment" (as Timothy S. Gee M.D.)
Holly Holmberg Brooks .... special thanks (as Holly Brooks)
Richard Sakai .... the producers would like to thank: for his contributions to the making of "Terms of Endearment"
Guy Serwin .... the producers would like to thank: for his contributions to the making of "Terms of Endearment" (as Mr. Guy Serwin)
Mrs. Guy Serwin .... the producers would like to thank: for her contributions to the making of "Terms of Endearment"
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
132 min
Color (Metrocolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:13 | Australia:M | Brazil:14 | Canada:14A (Canadian Home Video rating) | Chile:14 | Finland:K-12 | Iceland:L | Norway:12 | Peru:14 | Portugal:M/12 | Singapore:PG | South Korea:18 | Sweden:7 | UK:15 | UK:12A (theatrical re-release) (re-rating) (2013) | USA:PG (#27173) (re-rating on appeal) | USA:R (original rating) | West Germany:12

Did You Know?

Debra Winger behaved erratically on the set of this film because she was trying to get over a severe cocaine addiction. At one point, she and Shirley MacLaine got into a shoving match.See more »
Continuity: When Emma and Patsy are talking outside after the lunch in New York with Patsy's friends, the clouds shrouding the World Trade Center towers in the background change between shots.See more »
Emma Horton:[to her son] OK, you're allowed to say one mean thing to me a year. That'll do until you're 10.See more »
Movie Connections:
Stella by StarlightSee more »


Is the movie loyal to the book?
See more »
5 out of 6 people found the following review useful.
As comedic and dramatic as life can get ..., 1 April 2012
Author: ElMaruecan82 from France

Sometimes, I surprise myself by being sad during a happy family occasion like a wedding or a birthday party, when it makes me realize how old someone who's very dear to me is getting, or how fast life can go. And some other times, as we're mourning the passing of a beloved family member, I find myself sitting at a table, laughing at the jokes of my uncle, or remembering some funny anecdotes involving the one who's not with us anymore. Go figure why, but we humans have this strange tendency to lean over a feeling that is opposite to the situation we endure, like a sort of defensive reaction. Happiness reminds us how we must seize the day, and death how great it is to live.

So that's it, we laugh when we should be sad and cry when we should laugh. Actually, life teaches us that there's no 'should' when it comes to feelings, and its beauty is to make us swing back and forth between happy and sad memories. And to a certain extent, faithful to this very comedic aspect that can't go without a few tears, "Terms of Endearment" embodies the passing of life as this big joke with a sad punch line: we all laugh, have great time, but every once in a while, a sad event comes to remind us what is waiting for us. It follows a streak of successful Best Picture winning family dramas, such as "Kramer vs. Kramer" and "Ordinary People", but "Terms of Endearment" is slightly superior in the way it dares to approach life with an intelligent mix of detachment and irony but never without a profound and inspiring humanism.

Still, what a strange film! No wait, I shouldn't even use the word 'film' because by no chances, does it try to exploit some cinematic conventions in order to extract the right feelings from its audience. Albert Brooks not only trusts our intelligence but also our patience as the story plunges us in the world of Aurora and Emma, Shirley MecLaine and Debra Winger, mother and daughter. I say 'strange' film because it has the curious feel of a TV movie without the archetypes of a vulgar soap opera, it's made with a modest tone of pastel colors and following an episodic structure, like so many slices of people's lives, people no worse or better than you and I, but the flow is so fluid and perfect that we let ourselves guided by the story, never really expecting for something to happen, we're just put here as witnesses of a story, which exemplifies our own vision of life.

And that's the remarkable exploit of the film, the key that forged its success. "Terms of Endearment", which is unlike any film made before, was one of the highest grossing of 1983 and although I found "The Right Stuff" to be a much more extraordinary experience (and most deserving of the Best Picture award), "Terms of Endearment" possesses an endearing quality, which relies on its faithful approach to life, something made of laughs, anger, sadness and fears, simply put the four main emotions that drive our feelings. "Terms of Endearment" finds the perfect tone and balance between laughs and sadness, comic and pathos. In a way, the film can remind of "Love Story" without an hyperbolic classicism that could have ruined it.

Emma the daughter, has this burning passion in her heart just like Ali McGraw's character and her mother works as the total opposite, she seems cold and distant, criticizing all her daughter's choices, above them all the decision to marry a teacher named Flap (Jeff Daniels). But Emma never decides, she just lives while Aurora uses her maturity and status as a courted widow to better not to look at her own issues. The interactions between Emma and Aurora seems so genuine that I wondered if the two actresses were really mother and daughter. You could tell that these two women were the best friends in the world, with this unique complicity that couldn't only be translated into awkward reactions. One of the biggest issues that undermine the characters' interactions is the impossible communication of true feelings and the way it's handled provides the comedic spice of the film.

At a pivotal moment, Aurora finally decides to invite Garrett Breedlove, the ex-astronaut, neighbor since years and infamous for his lust for younger women, just to see her 'Renoir', referring to a very precious painting -a second reading at these lines makes the whole situation subtly hilarious. And not only this role was so tailor-made for Nicholson that it earned him his second Oscar win, but Mac Laine is the perfect match for him, and Brooks knew how to build a believable chemistry between them. At one point, Garrett makes a whole rhapsody about the way he feels things are getting too serious for his taste, to be interrupted by Aurora's reactions, it's funny but it also shows that not only she's no fool, but she doesn't even feel hurt. The film avoids two opposite clichés, turning them into derision to better show the futility of all that stuff. Another crucial scene is Emma's monologue in New York City on the way she feels about people's problems, an extraordinary moment I don't want to spoil.

The film evolves beautifully with a last act that is forever rooted in our memories, thanks to the remarkable performances of both Debra Winger and Shirley MacLaine, surrounded by great supporting performances. The film doesn't feature iconic moments, isn't renowned for a particular quote, but it has a level of emotionality that has often been copied but never equaled. And to give you an idea if you haven't seen it yet, just listen to Michael Gore's magnificent theme and it will give you an idea.

Was the above review useful to you?
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There is not a single movie that makes me cry more than this killmeifyoulike
Did anyone else find her laugh excruciatingly annoying? joet1999
Question about Aurora+Garrett whitney-tracy-1972
Brittany Murphy anyone? JaneDoeDoe7
Finally Watched... kittykittymeowmeow19
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