Quartet (1981 film)

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This article is about the 1981 film. For the 1948 British anthology film, see Quartet (1948 film). For the 2012 film, see Quartet (2012 film).
Quartet poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Ivory
Produced by Ismail Merchant
Written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (based on the novel by Jean Rhys)
Starring Alan Bates
Maggie Smith
Isabelle Adjani
Anthony Higgins
Music by Richard Robbins
Cinematography Pierre Lhomme
Edited by Humphrey Dixon
Distributed by New World Pictures (US)
Gaumont (France)
Release dates
May 1981 (at Cannes Film Festival)
25 October 1981 (US)
Running time
101 min
Country United Kingdom
Language English, French

Quartet is a 1981 Merchant Ivory Film, starring Isabelle Adjani, Maggie Smith, Anthony Higgins and Alan Bates, set in 1927 Paris. It premiered at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival and was an entry for the Selection Officielle (Official Selection). It was adapted from the novel by the same name by Jean Rhys.


Stephan, a shady Polish art dealer, is convicted of selling stolen artwork and is sentenced to prison for one year. Mado, his wife of uncertain nationality (possibly Creole), finding herself without any financial resources and at Stephan's urging, moves in to the apartment of H.J. Heider, a wealthy Englishman, and his wife Lois, a painter. H.J. has a history of inviting young women to move in to the "spare room" and with whom he then has sexual relations. Lois permits this arrangement because she wants to keep H.J. happy.

Most of the movie is a character study of the four principals. Mado visits Stephan in prison once a week, although both H.J. and Lois complain about it. Mado succumbs to H.J.'s advances, and it is unclear how much of it is willing and how much is not.

After Stephan is released from prison, he leaves France but does not take Mado with him.




  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Quartet". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 

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