AFI Movie Club: TERMS OF ENDEARMENT – American Film Institute
Terms of Endearment Film Still - Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine



AFI Life Achievement Award recipients Shirley MacLaine (2012) and Jack Nicholson (1994) came together to help bring you to tears in TERMS OF ENDEARMENT. And director James L. Brooks is the Artistic Director of the AFI Conservatory!

Watch Naomi Watts announce the film:


Movie Trivia about TERMS OF ENDEARMENT

-DID YOU KNOW the film won five Academy Awards® – Best Actress in a Leading Role (Shirley MacLaine), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jack Nicholson), Best Director (James L. Brooks), Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay (James L. Brooks)?

-DID YOU KNOW that Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger were both nominated for the Best Actress Oscar® for their work in TERMS OF ENDEARMENT? MacLaine took home the award and, in her acceptance speech, said, “Films and life are like clay, waiting for us to mold it.”

-DID YOU KNOW the character Garrett Breedlove did not exist in the source material by Larry McMurtry but was added by James L. Brooks when he was writing the screenplay? Brooks originally wrote the part of Garrett Breedlove for Burt Reynolds. Reynolds went on to do STROKER ACE instead and Jack Nicholson went on to win the Academy Award® for playing Breedlove.

-DID YOU KNOW John Lithgow’s part was filmed in only a few short days because he was in the middle of rehearsals for FOOTLOOSE?

-DID YOU KNOW James L. Brooks received an original comic drawing by an artist named Matt Groening as a gift at the end of production? Brooks was so impressed with the artwork that he brought Groening in for a meeting to discuss producing animated shorts for THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW. Those shorts spun off into their own show – THE SIMPSONS!

-DID YOU KNOW TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, James L. Brooks’ directorial debut, was not only an award-winning, critically acclaimed film but also was a smash hit with mainstream audiences at the box office? It was the second highest-grossing film of the year, only trailing behind STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-As Emma and Aurora looked at each other in the hospital room at the end of the film, without saying a word, what was passing between them in that moment? 

-Set in a world before cell phones, email and social media, how would TERMS OF ENDEARMENT be different if it took place today? What aspects remain true, regardless of time period? 

-Was Emma and Flap’s marriage doomed from the start? Was Aurora correct that Emma should not have married Flap? 

-Is Garrett Breedlove in love with Aurora? If so, what moment do you see his feelings start to change for Aurora? 

-TERMS OF ENDEARMENT is considered one of the great “tear jerkers” in cinematic history. What other films cause you to shed a tear? What is it about them that brings out this emotional reaction? 

-Why does TERMS OF ENDEARMENT continue to connect with audiences today? 

-How would you rate TERMS OF ENDEARMENT? 


In this exclusive AFI Archive video, director James L. Brooks talks about Shirley MacLaine, the star of today’s film – “She’s an original.”

New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

In this time when we are reminded “There’s no place like home,” AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

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