Merchant Ivory Productions
Merchant Ivory Productions is a film company founded in 1961 by producer Ismail Merchant (d. 2005) and director James Ivory. Their films were for the most part produced by Merchant, directed by Ivory, and 23 (of the 44 total films) were scripted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (d. 2013) in some capacity, all but two of those with solo credit. The films were often based upon novels or short stories, particularly the work of Henry James, E. M. Forster, and two novels by Jhabvala herself.
The initial goal of the company was "to make English-language films in India aimed at the international market." The style of Merchant Ivory films set and photographed in India became iconic. The company also went on to make films in England and America.
Some actors and producers associated with Merchant Ivory include Maggie Smith, Leela Naidu, Madhur Jaffrey, Aparna Sen, Shashi Kapoor, Jennifer Kendal, Hugh Grant, James Wilby, Rupert Graves, Simon Callow, Anthony Hopkins, Glenn Close, Uma Thurman, Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave, Natasha Richardson, Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter.
Of this collaboration, Merchant once commented: "It is a strange marriage we have at Merchant Ivory... I am an Indian Muslim, Ruth is a German Jew, and Jim is a Protestant American. Someone once described us as a three-headed god. Maybe they should have called us a three-headed monster!"
The expression "Merchant-Ivory film" has made its way into common parlance, to denote a particular genre of film rather than the actual production company. While 1965's Shakespeare Wallah put this genre on the international map, its heyday was the 1980s and 1990s with such films as A Room with a View and Howards End. A typical "Merchant-Ivory film" would be a period piece set in the early 20th century, usually in Edwardian England, featuring lavish sets and top British actors portraying genteel characters who suffer from disillusionment and tragic entanglements.
Compiled works from Merchant Ivory Productions
|1963||The Householder||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||screenplay, adapted from the novel by Jhabvala|
|1965||Shakespeare Wallah||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||screenplay|
|1969||The Guru||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||screenplay|
|The Night of Counting the Years||Shadi Abdel Salam||written and directed by Shadi Abdel Salam|
|1970||Bombay Talkie||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||screenplay|
|1972||Savages||George W. S. Trow and Michael O'Donoghue||written by|
|1975||The Wild Party||Walter Marks||based on a poem by Joseph Moncure March|
|Autobiography of a Princess||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||written by|
|1977||Roseland||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||story and screenplay|
|1978||Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||TV (story)|
|1979||The Five Forty-Eight||Terrence McNally||based on the story by John Cheever|
|The Europeans||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||based on the novel by Henry James|
|1980||Jane Austen in Manhattan||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala|
|1981||Quartet||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||based on the novel by Jean Rhys|
|1983||The Courtesans of Bombay||Ismail Merchant, James Ivory and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||TV feature; directed by Ismail Merchant|
|Heat and Dust||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||based on the novel by Jhabvala|
|1984||The Bostonians||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||based on the novel by Henry James|
|1985||A Room with a View||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||based on the novel by E. M. Forster|
|1986||My Little Girl||Connie Kaiserman||original; directed by Kaiserman|
|1987||Maurice||James Ivory & Kit Hesketh-Harvey||based on the novel by E. M. Forster|
|1988||The Deceivers||Michael Hirst||based on the novel by John Masters|
|The Perfect Murder||H. R. F. Keating and Zafar Hai||based on the novel by Keating|
|1989||Slaves of New York||Tama Janowitz||based on collection of stories by Janowitz|
|1990||Mr. & Mrs. Bridge||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||based on novels by Evan S. Connell|
|1991||The Ballad of the Sad Cafe||Michael Hirst||play by Edward Albee
(based on novel by Carson McCullers)
directed by Simon Callow
|Street Musicians of Bombay||directed by Richard Robbins|
|1992||Howards End||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||based on the novel by E. M. Forster|
|1993||The Remains of the Day||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro|
|1994||In Custody||Shahrukh Husain and Anita Desai||based on the novel by Desai
directed by Ismail Merchant
|1995||Feast of July||Christopher Neame||based on a novel by H. E. Bates|
|Jefferson in Paris||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||written by J. T. Hyndman|
|1996||The Proprietor||Jean-Marie Besset and George W. S. Trow||directed by Ismail Merchant|
|Surviving Picasso||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||screenplay (based on the book by Arianna Huffington)|
|1998||Side Streets||Tony Gerber, Lynn Nottage||directed by Tony Gerber|
|A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||based on the novel by Kaylie Jones|
|1999||Cotton Mary||Alexandra Viets||directed by Ismail Merchant|
|2000||The Golden Bowl||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||based on the novel by Henry James|
|2001||The Mystic Masseur||Caryl Phillips||based on a novel by V. S. Naipaul|
|2002||Merci Docteur Rey||Andrew Litvack||directed by Andrew Litvack|
|2003||Le Divorce||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala & James Ivory||based on the novel by Diane Johnson|
|2005||Heights||Amy Fox||directed by Chris Terrio|
|The White Countess||Kazuo Ishiguro||screenplay|
|2008||Before the Rains||Cathy Rabin||directed by Santosh Sivan|
|2009||The City of Your Final Destination||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||screenplay (based on book by Peter Cameron)|
|2017||Make the Wiseguys Weep||Richard Menello||directed by Raymond De Felitta|
- "Ismail Merchant", The Times, 26 May 2005.
- Kaur, Harmanpreet. "The Wandering Company: Merchant-Ivory Productions and Post-Colonial Cinema", Projectorhead Film Magazine, 10 January 2013.
- LaSalle, Mick. "Merchant-Ivory's final film a refined delight. Naturally", San Francisco Chronicle, 13 January 2006.
- Ebert, Roger. "Ismail Merchant: In Memory", 26 May 2005.
- Official website
- Merchant Ivory Productions at the Internet Movie Database
- Merchant Ivory Productions at the Criterion Collection