Friday, December 1, 2023

Movie Quote of the Day (‘Terms of Endearment,’ With a Line That Could Be Jack Nicholson’s Motto)

Garrett Breedlove [played by Jack Nicholson]: “I don't know what it is about you, but you do bring out the devil in me.”— Terms of Endearment (1983), screenplay by Larry McMurtry and James L. Brooks based on McMurtry’s novel, directed by James L. Brooks

Forty years ago this week, Terms of Endearment premiered. It would go on to win several Oscars, including Best Picture. But the one that, to my mind, may have been most deserved, for Best Supporting Actor, went to Jack Nicholson. 

After a commercial and creative trough for him following his Best Actor Oscar for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975, the award solidified a career upturn that began in 1981 with his role as Eugene O’Neill in Reds.

Nicholson’s character—a retired (and randy) astronaut who romances Shirley MacLaine’s Aurora Greenway—was not part of Larry McMurtry’s novel. 

But James L. Brooks’ creation of the character provided the film with a welcome jolt. The role seemed almost tailor-made for Nicholson. (Indeed, he could easily have said the line above in The Witches of Eastwick, The Shining, or to the many women he wooed offscreen.)

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