Filmography

Founded
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1960
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1970
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1980
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1990
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2000
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2010
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Present
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The Sword and the Flute

The Sword and the Flute

1959/U.S., 20 minutes

Ivory's second documentary, The Sword and The Flute, also dealing with schools of art, grew out of his experience in making Venice: Theme and Variations. Only here, instead of photographing works by the Italian masters, he has used superb examples of Indian miniature paintings. Ivory's intelligent script, narrated with feeling by Saeed Jaffrey, and accompanied by the music of Ravi Shankar and Ali ... MORE…

The Creation of Woman

The Creation of Woman

1960/, 14 minutes

A year after The Sword and the Flute, Merchant produced his first film, the 14-minute short The Creation of Woman. Made while he was working at the McCann-Erickson advertising agency, it was shot on the most meager of budgets, a mere $9,000 advanced by Charles Schwep, an acquaintance of the time, partner in the endeavor, and the film's director. At first Merchant considered ... MORE…

The Householder

The Householder

1963/India, 101 minutes

In 1961, Ismail Merchant and James Ivory paid a visit to the German-born novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, then living in Delhi, with a proposal to make a film of her novel The Householder. Jhabvala agreed. She wrote the screenplay for the film herself, in ten days, and the Merchant-Ivory-Jhabvala partnership was inaugurated. Filmed entirely on location in Delhi, The ... MORE…

The Delhi Way

The Delhi Way

1964/U.S., 50 minutes

The Delhi Way --produced, written, photographed, and directed by Ivory--was begun before The Householder but completed after it. A documentary of Delhi, it scans the city's historic past that includes successive Afghan, Moghul, and English invasions, while it reveals its variegated life of the present. At the opening a train moves along a landscape in darkness to evoke (as in a film... MORE…

Shakespeare Wallah

Shakespeare Wallah

1965/India, 120 minutes

Tony Buckingham (Geoffrey Kendal) and his wife Carla (Laura Lidell) are the actor-managers of a troupe of traveling Shakespearean actors in post-colonial India; they must grapple with a diminishing demand for their craft as the English theatre on the subcontinent is supplanted by the emerging genre of Indian film. Lizzie Buckingham (Felicity Kendal), the couple's daughter, falls in love with Sanju... MORE…

The Guru

The Guru

1969/India, 112 minutes

After Shakespeare Wallah, Merchant Ivory became interested in two movie projects that in the end failed to materialize. One was a sequel to Shakespeare Wallah called A Lovely World, which followed the fortunes of Lizzie Buckingham in the trendy London of the 1960s. Filmways commissioned Jhabvala to do the screenplay but when it was completed turned it down and the ... MORE…

Bombay Talkie

Bombay Talkie

1970/India, 110 minutes

Lucia Lane (Jennifer Kendal), an English novelist, comes to Bombay to research the Bollywood film scene for a book she is planning to write. She is introduced by a producer (none other than Ismail Merchant) to the dashing movie star Vikram (Shashi Kapoor) and the screenwriter Hari (Zia Mohyeddin). Vikram, who is married to the beautiful but barren young Mala (Aparna Sen), falls in love with Lucia ... MORE…

Adventures of a Brown Man in Search of Civilization

Adventures of a Brown Man in Search of Civilization

1972/U.K., 54 minutes

After Bombay Talkie, Merchant Ivory turned next to a documentary. BBC television commissioned them to do a film on Nirad Chaudhuri, the celebrated Indian polymath whom Merchant, Ivory, and Jhabvala had all known in India, and who was then in England doing research for a book on the Sanskrit scholar Max Müeller. Chaudhuri is clearly an extraordinary man. His interests are not only ... MORE…

Savages

Savages

1972/U.S., 106 minutes

The genesis of the company's next feature film, Savages, goes back to 1970. In an article in the Autumn 1971 issue of the British film journal Sight and Sound, Ivory relates that he came across a Colonial Revival mansion in Scarborough, forty minutes north of New York City, that had intrigued him. Called Beechwood, it belonged to the Vanderlip family, Midwesterners who derived their ... MORE…

Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls

Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls

1973/India, 31 minutes

Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls, a 30-minute documentary film that looks at an aspect of Indian culture from a rather whimsical angle, has always been a popular Merchant Ivory film. The idea for the documentary came from Anthony Korner, an associate of Merchant Ivory's in the period, and now the publisher of Art Forum. It was directed and narrated by him, but the scenario was devised by... MORE…

Mahatma and the Mad Boy

Mahatma and the Mad Boy

1974/India, 27 minutes

Merchant Ivory's next film, a 27-minute short, was not only produced but for the first time also directed by Merchant. Mahatma and the Mad Boy, the idea for which was suggested by Sajid Khan, a child star of Indian films who plays the vagrant boy on a Bombay beach, was filmed in 1973 and received highly favorable reviews when it was shown in London the following year. It cost $25,000 to ... MORE…

The Wild Party

The Wild Party

1974/U.S., 100 minutes

Time also has a framing role in The Wild Party, shot soon after Autobiography of a Princess. It has a curious history, having been inspired by a blank-verse narrative poem of 1926 by Joseph Moncure March about a disastrous Greenwich Village party given by a vaudeville comic in his walk-up apartment. The lyricist Walter Marks saw in it the idea for a musical film, with the setting changed... MORE…

Autobiography of a Princess

Autobiography of a Princess

1975/UK, 59 minutes

In 1974 Merchant Ivory made two new films, Autobiography of a Princess and The Wild Party. Although released after The Wild Party, Autobiography of a Princess was the first to be filmed. It has an intriguing history, which Ivory has related in his book Autobiography of a Princess, a miscellany of commentary and photos of Royal India, together with the text ... MORE…

Sweet Sounds

Sweet Sounds

1976/U.S., 29 minutes

In 1976 Jhabvala made the important decision to leave India to live in New York for most of the year, a result of which was a new documentary, Sweet Sounds, conceived and directed by Richard Robbins, and sponsored by Merchant Ivory Productions. Jhabvala entered her youngest daughter Firoza, an aspiring pianist, in the Mannes College of Music, then on Manhattan's Upper East Side, and ... MORE…

Roseland

Roseland

1977/U.S., 104 minutes

Roseland is made up of three stories, sometimes connecting, all set in the famed New York dance palace, and all having the same theme: finding the right dance partner. In The Waltz a widow (Teresa Wright) dreams incessantly of her departed husband, imagining his younger self in the Ballroom mirrors, still whirling her over the dance floor. Lou Jacobi, a rough diamond type, brings ... MORE…

Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures

Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures

1978/India, 85 minutes

n 1977 the London Weekend Television arts programs called "The South Bank Show" made a proposal through its presenter Melvyn Bragg to Merchant Ivory to make a television film for them. The subject was open, so long as it had an arts connection. Ivory was receptive, and the subject of collecting Indian miniature paintings, an interest of his since The Sword and the Flute, was eventually ... MORE…

The Five Forty-Eight

The Five Forty-Eight

1979/U.S., 58 minutes

In 1979, shortly after The Europeans was completed, Ivory took on an assignment outside Merchant Ivory Productions. One day at lunch he heard that Channel 13 television in New York was doing three adaptations of John Cheever stories for the "Great Performances" series, and that one of them, "The Five Forty Eight," adapted by Terrence McNally, had no director. Ivory ... MORE…

The Europeans

The Europeans

1979/U.S., 89 minutes

The first of Merchant Ivory's triptych of Henry James adaptations (including The Bostonians in 1984 and The Golden Bowl in 2001), The Europeans is the story of an encounter between a family of pre-Civil War New Englanders and their European relations whose alien, sophisticated ways dazzle some family members and scandalize others. The Baroness Eugenia Muenster (Lee Remick) arrives with her ... MORE…

Jane Austen in Manhattan

Jane Austen in Manhattan

1980/U.S., 111 minutes

The origins of Jane Austen in Manhattan, also set in New York, go back to the sale of the manuscript of Jane Austen's childhood play, based on Samuel Richardson's novel Sir Charles Grandison, at a Sothebys auction in London. The manuscript was acquired by David Astor, owner of the Observer newspaper, who was quickly approached by the London Weekend Television arts ... MORE…

Quartet

Quartet

1981/France, 101 minutes

t has been said that most great twentieth century novels include scenes in a hotel, a symptom of the vast uprooting that has occurred in the last century: James Ivory begins Quartet with a montage of the hotels of Montparnasse, a quiet prelude before our introduction to the violently lost souls who inhabit them. Adapted from the 1928 autobiographical novel by Jean ... MORE…

Courtesans of Bombay

Courtesans of Bombay

1983/India, 73 minutes

After completing Quartet, Merchant and Ivory returned to India, where they prepared two movies during 1981-82. The more modestly scaled, and the first to be released (in January 1983), was the 73-minute documentary (or "docudrama," as Merchant refers to it) The Courtesans of Bombay, which was both produced and directed by Merchant. (The other was Heat and ... MORE…

Heat and Dust

Heat and Dust

1983/India, 133 minutes

Adapted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala from her Booker Prize-winning novel , Heat and Dust is the story of two English women living in India more than fifty years apart. Olivia (Greta Scacchi) shares a troubled marriage with Douglas Rivers (Christopher Cazenove), an English civil servant in the colonial India of the 1920s. Anne, Olivia's grand niece (Julie Christie), comes to the subcontinent ... MORE…

The Bostonians

The Bostonians

1984/U.S., 122 minutes

Three Oscar -winning actresses illuminate the screen in Merchant Ivory's second adaptation of a Henry James novel, The Bostonians, set in New England in the period after the Civil War. Olive Chancellor (Vanessa Redgrave), a Back Bay Boston spinster and leader of the women's suffrage movement, becomes enamored of Verena Tarrant (Madeleine Potter), an inspirational young speaker, and ... MORE…

A Room with a View

A Room with a View

1986/U.K., 117 minutes

A Room With a View captured the attention of the world upon its release, bringing the novel by E.M. Forster to dazzling life in the Florentine countryside and in the well-appointed homes of the English Edwardian upper classes. A comedy of manners with a quick wit and impeccable comic timing, A Room With A View is also a portrait of the quiet solitude that lies beneath Forster's ... MORE…

Maurice

Maurice

1987/U.K., 135 minutes

The traditional bildungsroman, or novel of education, ends with a marriage. E.M. Forster's Maurice(1914), the second of his novels to be adapted by Merchant Ivory, takes on a subject that no major novel in the genre had ever addressed: the problem of coming of age as a homosexual in a restrictive society. First published in 1971, after Forster's death, and long neglected by critics,... MORE…

The Deceivers

The Deceivers

1988/India, 113 minutes

In the early 1980's Merchant first set in motion a project of which he had long dreamed, and that he was to do outside of his usual collaboration with Jhabvala and Ivory, the making of The Deceivers. The Deceiversis adapted from the John Masters novel, set in India in 1825, which depicts the exploits of William Savage (based on William Sleeman of the Indian Political Service), who disguises ... MORE…

Slaves of New York

Slaves of New York

1989/U.S., 124 minutes

A bold follow-up to two successful E.M. Forster adaptations, Merchant Ivory's 1989 Slaves of New York stars Bernadette Peters as Eleanor, a young fashion designer living on Manhattan's Lower East Side amidst the art gallery and club subculture of Reagan-era New York. As downtown rent prices increase and money fails to trickle down to the avant-garde artist set, Eleanor feels trapped in ... MORE…

Mr. and Mrs. Bridge

Mr. and Mrs. Bridge

1990/U.S., 125 minutes

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward give "the performances of their careers" (Judith Crist) in Merchant Ivory's adaptation of Evan S. Connell's two novels Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge, artfully combined into one screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Walter and India Bridge (Newman and Woodward) are a Midwestern American couple struggling to keep up with the changing world around them in 1930s America. ... MORE…

The Perfect Murder

The Perfect Murder

1990/India, 93 minutes

The Perfect Murder, which premiered in New York at the Angelika Film Center in March 1990, was released under the auspices of Merchant Ivory Productions. But although Merchant is credited as its executive producer, having helped to arrange financing and distribution, he had little part in the actual shooting of the film. In the late 1980s, Merchant became interested in organizing an ... MORE…

The Ballad of the Sad Café

The Ballad of the Sad Café

1991/U.S., 100 minutes

Although it is a Merchant Ivory film, The Ballad of the Sad Café, from the 1951 novella by Carson McCullers, is a project Merchant pursued apart from his collaboration with Ivory and Jhabvala, as he had done from time to time in the past. The inspiration for it came to him as early as 1972 when his friend Anthony Korner gave him a copy of the book to read. Merchant was impressed ... MORE…

Howards End

Howards End

1992/U.K., 143 minutes

Based on the 1910 novel, Howards End is a tour-de-force portrayal of E.M. Forster's masterpiece about a society in transition. The film was named Best Picture of 1992 by the National Board of Review, received nine Academy Award nominations, including that of Best Picture, and was one of the most critically acclaimed pictures of the 90s. The free-spirited, free-thinking Schlegel sisters,... MORE…

The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day

1993/U.K., 134 minutes

In the entracte between world wars, Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) is the perfect English butler at the estate of the politically-inclined Lord Darlington (James Fox). Stevens's obsessively dutiful, thoroughly unsentimental way of life is challenged with the arrival of the new housekeeper Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson), who is as spirited as she is capable. Stevens's myopic worldview, his ... MORE…

In Custody

In Custody

1993/India, 126 minutes

Ismail Merchant's feature directorial debut addresses a subject close to his heart: the expressive Urdu language of Northern India, in danger of extinction as political trends and modernization obscure its contributions to Indian culture. Merchant 's treatment is wry and good humored , as his characters - an aging Urdu poet (Shashi Kapoor) and a worshipful young college lecturer - clash despite ... MORE…

Street Musicians of Bombay

Street Musicians of Bombay

1994/India, 52 minutes

Richard Robbins's film documentary, Street Musicians of Bombay, came about as the result of an incident that occurred while he was staying at the Taj Mahal hotel in the cosmopolitan center of Bombay. He woke one morning to hear singing in the street below; going to the window, he saw two street musicians, a leper couple, singing a duet of almost unearthly beauty. Fascinated, he conceived... MORE…

Feast of July

Feast of July

1995/UK, 119 minutes

Merchant Ivory's production deal with Disney also envisioned Merchant Ivory films directed and scripted by people other than Ivory and Jhabvala; the first of these was Feast of July, produced by Merchant on an $8 million budget and released by Disney's Buena Vista/Touchstone Pictures in 1995. It is taken from the 1954 novel by H.E. Bates, one of England's most prolific modern writers and... MORE…

Jefferson in Paris

Jefferson in Paris

1995/France, 139 minutes

This film is about the years, 1784-1789, that Thomas Jefferson spent as the American ambassador to France. These were significant years for him in his public and personal life, and fateful ones for France, where the Revolution was about to break out. Jefferson was 41 years old when he arrived from Virginia, accompanied by his elder daughter, Patsy, and one of his slaves, James Hemings. His wife ... MORE…

The Proprietor

The Proprietor

1996/France/U.K., 113 minutes

Esquire once drew up a list of the hundred outstanding personalities of the world, which included only two French individuals; one was Jeanne Moreau, the other was Charles de Gaulle. Jeanne Moreau is an indisputable cultural icon, an actress who defines an era of brilliant filmmaking in France. She was the Femme fatale of "New Wave" cinema, starring in Francois Truffaunt's Jules and ... MORE…

Surviving Picasso

Surviving Picasso

1996/U.K., 125 minutes

Even before Picasso's death in 1973, some of those who knew him, including at least two of the women who shared his life, had published their personal accounts of what it was like to be intimate with the greatest artistic genius of the twentieth century. The most striking of these was Francoise Gilot's Life with Picasso, which appeared in 1964 despite Picasso's strenuous efforts to block... MORE…

A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries

A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries

1998/U.K. / France, 125 minutes

A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries is the story of an American family living in Paris in the mid sixties, told from the point of view of the daughter, Channe. The father, Bill Willis, is a successful expatriate writer (based on Kaylie Jones's father, the writer James Jones), a WWII veteran haunted by his experiences in the Pacific. His wife, Marcella, is an emotional, fun-loving woman. The film... MORE…

Cotton Mary

Cotton Mary

2000/US, 124 minutes

Set in post-colonial India of the 1950's, Cotton Mary is the story of two Anglo-Indian (part English and part Indian) sisters. Cotton Mary and Blossom, their niece, Rosie and their tangled and complicated interactions with a British household. The drama centers on the relationship between Cotton Mary, who dreams of realizing a British identity and Lily Macintosh, a young woman recently ... MORE…

The Golden Bowl

The Golden Bowl

2001/U.S., 130 minutes

An intricately plotted tale of thwarted love and betrayal, The Golden Bowl tells the story of an extravagantly rich American widower (NOLTE) and his sheltered daughter (BECKINSALE), both of whom marry only to discover that their respective mates, a beautiful American expatriate and an impoverished Italian aristocrat (THURMAN and NORTHAM), are entangled with one another in a romantic ... MORE…

Mystic Masseur

Mystic Masseur

2001/U.S., 118 minutes

The Mystic Masseur, based upon the novel of the same title by famed author V.S. Naipaul, will be the next project for the independent film company Merchant Ivory Productions. This film will represent the first of his acclaimed literary works that Mr. Naipaul has permitted to be translated to the screen. V.S. Naipaul's remarkable first novel, is set during the mid 1950's in his native ... MORE…

Le Divorce

Le Divorce

2003/France, 117 minutes

The differences in legalities and cultural mores of French and Americans regarding sex, love, marriage, religion and family bonds are presented through the interactions of two families related by marriage. American Isabel Walker heads to Paris to visit her half-sister, poet Roxeanne de Persand, who is early in the pregnancy of her second child. Isabel arrives to find that Roxy's French husband, ... MORE…

Heights

Heights

2005/U.S., 93 minutes

'Heights' follows five characters over 24 hours on a fall day in New York City. Isabel, a photographer, is having second thoughts about her upcoming marriage to Jonathan, a lawyer. On the same day, Isabel's mother Diana learns that her husband has a new lover and begins to re-think her life choices and her open marriage. Diana and Isabel's paths cross with Alec, a young actor, and with Peter, a ... MORE…

The White Countess

The White Countess

2005/, 135 minutes

Shanghai. 1936. Crossroads of the world and into this city of political intrigue comes Sofia, a Russian Countess who, with the remains of her family, has been left stateless by the Revolution. Forced by her reduced circumstances to support herself and her family as a bar-girl and taxi dancer, Sofia forms a relationship with Jackson, a blind former diplomat who opens an elegant bar; The White ... MORE…

The City of Your Final Destination

The City of Your Final Destination

2009/U.S., 118 minutes

28-year-old Kansas University doctoral student Omar Razaghi wins a grant to write a biography of Latin American writer Jules Gund. Omar must get through to three people who were close to Gund--his brother, widow, and younger mistress--so he can get authorization to write the biography.... MORE…

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