FILMS… Terms of Endearment (1983)



Another Nicholson role, another Oscar…


A film that won a double Oscar Best Actress nomination telling of a mother and daughter relationship over 30 years.


Terms of Endearment – Trailer, Paramount Trailers and photos © Paramount Pictures 1983


Terms of Endearment (1983) was billed as a comedy-drama and was nominated for 11 Oscars. It tells about a widow, Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine) and her at times troubled, good and bad relationship with daughter Emma (Debra Winger) over many years. Emma marries Flap Horton (Jeff Daniels) – with her mother’s disapproval – soon after leaving school.

After her husband has been found to be having affairs, Emma moves back home. Meanwhile, her mother has been dating her neighbour, Garrett (Jack Nicholson), but they break up as he does not want to be monogamous. On Emma’s return to Flap, they move away with one of his mistresses following him. Emma also has an affair with Sam Burns (John Lithgow)On a visit to the doctors, Emma finds out she has breast cancer… 

This film is wonderfully acted, with MacLaine getting a deserved Oscar for Best Actress. It was sad, that Debra Winger, also nominated for this category didn’t share the accolade. Winger gives a much more powerful performance than in her previous roles. I was happy her acting skills were further acknowledged as she was nominated again, 10 years later for Shadowlands (1993). Nicholson breezes in and out of the film, so I was a wee bit surprised he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

I felt the cast was totally upstaged by young Huckleberry Fox, who plays Emma’s son, Teddy. You would be heartless not to have your parental instincts come to the fore, especially when Fox is seen crying in the scenes which relate to Emma’s illness.

His acting is just as good as Justin Henry,  who was the youngest child actor to be nominated for the Supporting Actor Oscar in his role in Kramer vs Kramer (1979). Fox also stars in the tearjerker, Misunderstood (1984), but here he has a more vulnerable performance.

To conclude this film is much more than an “Illness of the Week” drama and it shines at all levels, with memorable cast performances. The direction, writing and production of James L. Brooks and the haunting soundtrack draw you into the story at all times. To conclude, I and am sure others think of it in Terms of Endearment.


Weeper Rating😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦  /10

Handsqueeze Rating:  🙂  🙂  🙂 🙂 🙂  🙂  🙂 🙂 /10

Hulk Rating: ‎ ‎ mrgreen  mrgreen  ‎/10


The TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon 2019, No 81

This review was added to Journeys in Classic Film and Musings of a Classic Film Addict‘s The TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon. Other films with this cast include Shirley MacLaine in The Apartment. Huckleberry Fox stars in this and 5 Child Actors and Misunderstood. John Lithgow in The Crown and Interstellar. Jack Nicholson in The Postman Always Rings Twice, One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest, Mars Attacks, The Witches of Eastwick, The Shining, Oscar Winner Best Actors in Superhero films, Easy Rider and the Jack Nicholson Blogathon. Jeff Daniels stars in Heartburn and The Martian.




9 thoughts on “FILMS… Terms of Endearment (1983)

  1. You make it sound like she won it for shadowlands. She deserved the oscar for Terms so I don’t think the oscars ever recognised her talent which they should have

    Liked by 1 person

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