Merchant Ivory Productions
Merchant Ivory Productions is a film company founded in 1961 by producer Ismail Merchant (1936–2005) and director James Ivory (b. 1928). Merchant and Ivory were a couple from 1961 until Merchant's death in 2005. During their time together they made 44 films. The films were for the most part produced by Merchant and directed by Ivory, and 23 of them were scripted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1927–2013) in some capacity. The films were often based upon novels or short stories, particularly the work of Henry James, E. M. Forster, and Jhabvala herself.
|Founder||Ismail Merchant |
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 the United Kingdom 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 (1985) and Howards End (1992). 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. Also, the main theme often surrounds a house. Houses take on a particular importance in many Merchant Ivory films.
After early, modest successes with films such as The Householder, Shakespeare Wallah and Bombay Talkie, Merchant and Ivory suffered a lean period during the 1970s. Films such as Jane Austen in Manhattan and The Wild Party failed to find an audience. Their fortunes revived dramatically in 1979 when they made an adaptation of Henry James's novel The Europeans. Their film Heat and Dust (1983) was an art-house hit in Europe, particularly in England. However, it was not until their work together on A Room with a View (1985) that they broke out from the art house into broader success.
Around 1990, they moved their productions to England and the United States. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala became their frequent collaborating writer. Major film studio sought them out with Disney signing Merchant Ivory Productions in 1991 to a three year distribution deal.
In October 2015, Cohen Media Group acquired the Merchant Ivory brand and library, 21 films and 9 documentaries including worldwide distribution, for restoration and rerelease as a part of the Cohen Film Collection. Ivory would be creative director on the films' restoration, re-release and promotion.
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 Ruth Prawer 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; nominated for nine Academy Awards winning three|
|1993||In Custody||Shahrukh Husain and Anita Desai||based on the novel by Desai|
directed by Ismail Merchant
|The Remains of the Day||Ruth Prawer Jhabvala||based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro|
|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|
|2007||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||Call Me by Your Name||James Ivory||based on the novel by André Aciman, directed by Luca Guadagnino|
|2020||Make the Wiseguys Weep||Ric Menello, Neil Jesuele||based on a book by David Evanier|
- "Ismail Merchant" Archived 21 November 2008 at Archive.today, The Times, 26 May 2005.
- Kaur, Harmanpreet. "The Wandering Company: Merchant-Ivory Productions and Post-Colonial Cinema" Archived 10 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Projectorhead Film Magazine, 10 January 2013.
- LaSalle, Mick. "Merchant-Ivory's final film a refined delight. Naturally" Archived 25 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, San Francisco Chronicle, 13 January 2006.
- Ebert, Roger. "Ismail Merchant: In Memory" Archived 16 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine, 26 May 2005.
- Fristoe, Roger. "Introduction to 50 Years of Merchant Ivory". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
- McNary, Dave (12 October 2015). "'Howards End,' Merchant Ivory Library Bought by Cohen Media Group". Variety. Archived from the original on 15 April 2017. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
- "Ismail Merchant". Telegraph Obituaries. 25 May 2005. Archived from the original on 21 January 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
- "Disney Buys Miramax In Leap Toward Industry Lead -- 60 Movies A Year Goal For Studio". Seattle Times. AP. 1 May 1993. Archived from the original on 13 April 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
- Official website
- Merchant Ivory Productions on IMDb
- Merchant Ivory Productions at the Criterion Collection