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Five Oscars = “Security” “Terms of Endearment” now on Paramount Presents 4K

Updated: Dec 1, 2023


Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger play mother and daughter Aurora and Emma in the Academy Award winner “Terms of Endearment.”

(Click on an image to scroll through the larger versions)


4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy; 1983; PG for profanity, adult situations; digital via Apple TV (iTunes) 4K, Vudu (4K)

Best extra: A 2023 interview with writer/producer/director James L. Brooks

JAMES L. BROOKS had established himself as a top television writer for such acclaimed shows as “Mary Tyler Moore,” “Taxi,” and “The Simpsons,” before his first foray into the world of cinema, when he wrote and co-produced “Starting Over” starring Burt Reynolds and Candice Bergen. His very next feature film was as the writer, producer, and director of “Terms of Endearment,” which landed five Academy Awards, including for director, screen adaptation, and picture. Not too shabby.

The 40-year-old “dramedy” has mostly aged well, with its all-star cast (Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Jeff Daniels and John Lithgow) all pitch-perfect. MacLaine, who won a Best Actress Oscar, stands out even above the other fine performances. Her turn as Aurora Greenway, an aging, attractive, somewhat narcissistic Texas widow, is nothing short of a revelation. The range of emotions, the comic timing, and the layers of personality that MacLaine displays are an absolute delight to behold.

Based on the novel by Larry McMurtry, the story focuses on the quasi-symbiotic relationship between Aurora and her daughter Emma (Winger). Even when Emma manages to escape Aurora’s clutches by marrying a college teacher named Flap Horton (Daniels) and moving to other states, daily phone calls keep mother and daughter intertwined. Aurora, usually surrounded by a trio of ardent suitors, sets her sights on her next-door neighbor. He’s Garrett Breedlove, a dissipated ex-astronaut, played brilliantly by Nicholson, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his efforts. Garrett’s romantic interests tend to be for much younger women, but he makes a reluctant exception in Aurora’s case. The volatile relationship that ensues contains some of the most unforgettably hilarious moments in the film. For younger readers, I won’t include spoilers here, but the third act of “Terms” goes in a very sad direction and, except for the intrusiveness of Michael Gore’s overly sentimental score, does so quite


(1&2) Emma marries college teacher Flap Horton played by Jeff Daniels. The phone is nearby with an expected daily call from Aurora. (3) Emma hugs her best friends goodbye, as she and Flap prepare to move away from Texas. (4&5) Aurora is not happy, as the family drives away.


The 4K disc and Blu-ray are both encoded from the new 4K restoration master, sourced from the original 35mm camera negative (1.85:1 aspect ratio), which Brooks supervised. Overall, the 4K film grain structure is organic and visible from start to finish, but not at the structure level of a Sony 4K release from the ‘80s. Another oddity – we found the 4K video bitrate at times running lower than the Blu-ray – below 20 Mb per second while the Blu-ray outputs in the mid-30 Mbps range during the opening flashback scene when Aurora pinches baby Emma to see if she’s breathing. That shouldn’t happen especially to a big-time Paramount Academy Award winner. Video and audio were encoded onto the smaller 66 GB disc, instead of a 100 GB disc, which forced the video bitrate to average below 50 Mb per second.

On the plus side, the onscreen clarity is still first-rate from facial closeups to deep-focus wide shots. HDR10 and Dolby Vision color grading is natural with a neutral color palette, and contrast levels are well balanced from controlled highlights to solid and dark shadows.


The original dialogue-driven 2.0 mono soundtrack was upgraded to a six-channel DTS-HD. It does expand the soundstage that’s still mostly front and center, with Michael Gore’s Oscar-nominated score and piano-driven theme song, with samples from show tunes “West Side Story” and “For Me and My Gal” with Judy Garland singing.

(1) Aurora starts up a conversation with next-door neighbor Garrett Breedlove, a dissipated ex-astronaut, played brilliantly by Jack Nicholson. (2&3) Emma is rescued at the supermarket by bank loan officer Sam Burns played by John Lithgow, who pays her bill when she’s short of cash and he escorts her to the car. (4) Aurora escapes her three suitors, one of whom is played by Danny DeVito. (5) Emma and Sam meet again. (6&7) On her dates with Garrett, Aurora begins to loosen up.


All of the bonus features are included on the Blu-ray including the commentary by Brooks, Co-Producer Penney Finkelman Cox, and Production Designer Polly Platt; and Brooks’ “Filmmaker Focus” interview. He confesses to crying when he read McMurtry’s book, a rare occurrence for him. The experience of making the movie was more like “journalism” to him, leading him to visit Texas and other “areas of the country I’d never been to … and to meet the kinds of people I never met before.” Brooks made a “humble pilgrimage to Washington, DC” to meet McMurtry, who had a bookstore there, and was working the cash register when Brooks found him. McMurtry “sort of threw me out” and told Brooks: “I wrote the book – you go do your movie!” The mother/daughter story was challenging to Brooks, because “I’m a comedy writer, and the most important thing to me was that (the film) live as a comedy, because the ending was tragic.”

Brooks also talks about casting the part of Aurora, for whom he’d considered a different actress, but the legendary Hollywood agent Sue Mengers encouraged him to talk to MacLaine. When it came to Winger, she was “the person you wanted to get in that age range” at the time.

Brooks had originally hoped to hire Burt Reynolds to play the astronaut, but he was working on another film. Winger gave Nicholson the screenplay and she suggested him to Brooks. Brooks recalls Nicholson giving him directing tips during the production, because he was seen as “a TV guy directing a feature film” which, he thinks helped him: “There was an asset to being that innocent.” The huge success of “Terms,” he says, gave him a “moment of security” in his career.

— Peggy Earle

(1) The house is getting crowded, as Emma changes the diaper of their latest child. (2) Emma and Flap are both keeping secrets, as it plays out in front of Flap’s students. (3) Emma and the kids make a surprise visit back to Texas. (4) Garrett and Aurora examine their love affair.


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