skip navigation
James Ivory

James Ivory

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

 
 

The Golden Bowl DVD Romance was never so tormented. Nick Nolte is a wealthy American traveling... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

Slaves Of New York DVD What was love like in New York before "Sex and The City?" Set in the 1980s,... more info $14.99was $14.99 Buy Now

The White Countess DVD On the eve of war, fate steps in to unite two desperate souls. In the 1930s,... more info $14.99was $14.99 Buy Now

The Remains Of The Day / Sense And... Turn an unremarkable evening at home into a memorable double feature movie night... more info $14.99was $14.99 Buy Now

The City Of Your Final Destination... Based on Peter Cameron's 2005 novel, James Ivory's "The City of Your Final... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

The Five Forty-Eight DVD The questionable past of a philandering executive returns to haunt him when he... more info $24.99was $24.99 Buy Now



Also Known As: James Francis Ivory Died:
Born: June 7, 1928 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Berkeley, California, USA Profession: director, producer, screenwriter, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

James Ivory began his career as a documentary filmmaker before teaming up with producer Ismail Merchant to make "The Householder" (1963). Based on a novel by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the film marked the first of the trio's features centering on the people and culture of India. The team's second effort, "Shakespeare Wallah" (1965), attracted international attention for its sensitive portrayal of a family of British touring actors and its insights into the legacy of colonialism. Merchant and Ivory went on to earn a reputation for quality films made on shoestring budgets, with their best work--heavily influenced by Satyajit Ray--examining the interplay between different cultures ("Bombay Talkie" 1970, "Heat and Dust" 1983).Merchant, Ivory and Jhabvala are also known for their adaptations of literary classics. "The Europeans" (1979) and "The Bostonians" (1984), for example, are highly regarded translations of the works of Henry James. "A Room with a View" (1986), meanwhile, an adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel of a young woman's romantic experiences while traveling abroad, was a huge success with both critics and public, earning eight Oscar nominations and taking in approximately $20 million at the US...

James Ivory began his career as a documentary filmmaker before teaming up with producer Ismail Merchant to make "The Householder" (1963). Based on a novel by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the film marked the first of the trio's features centering on the people and culture of India. The team's second effort, "Shakespeare Wallah" (1965), attracted international attention for its sensitive portrayal of a family of British touring actors and its insights into the legacy of colonialism. Merchant and Ivory went on to earn a reputation for quality films made on shoestring budgets, with their best work--heavily influenced by Satyajit Ray--examining the interplay between different cultures ("Bombay Talkie" 1970, "Heat and Dust" 1983).

Merchant, Ivory and Jhabvala are also known for their adaptations of literary classics. "The Europeans" (1979) and "The Bostonians" (1984), for example, are highly regarded translations of the works of Henry James. "A Room with a View" (1986), meanwhile, an adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel of a young woman's romantic experiences while traveling abroad, was a huge success with both critics and public, earning eight Oscar nominations and taking in approximately $20 million at the US box-office. At their best, the Merchant-Ivory films are at once faithful to their literary sources and intelligently refined films which rarely dip into the overly precious.

A later adaptation of Forster's novel of male homosexual love, "Maurice" (1987), though a well-crafted and thoughtful film, seemed to lack the underlying passion of several of the earlier adaptations. Ivory's shift to more contemporary ground with an adaptation of Tama Janowitz's novel "Slaves of New York" (1989), was ill-conceived and unsatisfying. He rebounded admirably, though, with "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge" (1990), which featured subdued, highly effective performances by the real-life husband and wife duo of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Even better was "Howards End" (1992), still another Forster adaptation and one of Ivory's finest films to date. The following year, Ivory directed "Howards End" co-stars Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson in "The Remains of the Day", adapted from Kazuo Ishiguro's novel. While "Jefferson in Paris" (1995) was the culmination of a dream project for the director, this first production released under an agreement with Disney's Buena Vista subsidiary failed to win over critics and audiences.

After again directing Hopkins in another biopic, "Surviving Picasso" (1996), which failed despite the actor's charismatic turn, Ivory responded with the critically-acclaimed "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries" (1998), based on the autobiographical novel by Kaylie Jones, daughter of novelist James Jones, self-appointed keeper of the Parisian expatriate flame lighted by the likes of Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. Staying focused on family dynamics, the film plunged Merchant, Ivory and Jhabvala into the uncharted territory of comedy and children, reviving Ivory's memories of staying in Paris during the 60s with close friends and their children. He shared a particular affinity with the endearingly oddball Francis, the story's funniest, most iconoclastic character who reminded Ivory of himself as a child. The team's touching, superbly-acted drama of a refreshingly non-dysfunctional family exhibited their customary attention to detail and marked a return to form, recalling their best work.

Ivory's collaboration with Merchant and Jhabvala continued with the 2001 adaptation of Henry James' novel "The Golden Bowl," the author's greatest and most challenging novel. Working with castmembers Nick Nolte, Kate Beckinsale, Uma Thurman and Jeremy Northam in a turn of the century story involving two marriages with the same dreadful secret hidden at the heart of both of them, Ivory skillfully rotated the perspective through the moral conundrums that challenge them so that no character emerges as fully good or fully bad. Next for Ivory and his collaborators was a sophisticated, unpretentious adaptation of Diane Johnson's bestselling novel "Le Divorce" (2003), a relaxed, sophisticated and contemporary tale of two American sisters in Paris: one a pregnant expatriated poetess (Naomi Watts) suddenly abandoned by her philandering French husband; the other a fresh, naive young woman (Kate Hudson) caught up in a seemingly cosmopolitan affair with a roguish, married and much older French diplomat. Filled with a lively ensemble of fully developed characters, "Le Divorce" is one of Ivory's most relaxed and amusing films, with almost an Altman-esque quality as the story unfolds at its own pace and the characters gradually inhabit the landscape the director painstakingly crafts for them.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  White Countess (2005) Director
3.
  Golden Bowl, The (2000) Director
5.
  Lumiere Et Compagnie (1996) Featured Co-Director (Merchant-Ivory)
6.
  Surviving Picasso (1996) Director
7.
  Jefferson in Paris (1995) Director
8.
  The Remains Of The Day (1993) Director
9.
  Howard's End (1992) Director
10.
  Mr. And Mrs. Bridge (1990) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 The Europeans (1979) Man In Warehouse
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1953:
Directed, wrote, edited and photographed the student short "Four in the Morning"
1957:
Produced, directed, wrote and photographed the documentary short "Venice: Theme and Variations"
1959:
Helmed the documentary short "The Sword and the Flute", featuring the sitar music of Ravi Shankar
1961:
Met Ishmail Merchant at a screening of "The Sword and the Flute"; together formed Merchant Ivory Productions (MIP)
1963:
Feature directing debut (and first MIP production), "The Householder"; first collaboration with screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala who adapted from her novel
1965:
Co-wrote (with Jhabvala) and directed "Shakespeare Wallah", about a troupe of English actors travelling in India
1969:
First US-financed film, "The Guru", which he co-wrote with Jhabvala
1975:
Switched focus from India to America with "The Wild Party", evoking 1920s Hollywood
1979:
Feature acting debut as Man in Warehouse in "The Europeans"; first picture adapted form the work of Henry James; collaborated on screenplay with Jhabvala and directed
1981:
Helmed and adapted (with Jhabvala) "Quartet" from the novel by Jean Rhys
1984:
Second adaptation of James, "The Bostonians", featuring Christopher Reeve and Vanessa Redgrave
1985:
US TV producing debut, "Noon Wine" (PBS)
1986:
Breakthrough feature, "A Room With a View", based on the E.M. Forster novel; earned Best Director Oscar nomination
1987:
Directed second Forster adaptation, "Maurice"
1992:
First collaboration with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, "Howards End"; garnered second Best Director Oscar nomination; Vanessa Redgrave also co-starred
1993:
Directed Hopkins and Thompson in "The Remains of the Day", earning another Oscar nomination for Best Director; Christopher Reeve had featured role
1996:
Reteamed again with Hopkins for "Surviving Picasso"
1997:
Merchant-Ivory entered into production agreement with the UK-based Capitol Films
1998:
Directed critically-acclaimed "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries", based on the autobiographical novel by Kaylie Jones, daughter of novelist James Jones; shared screenplay credit with Jhabvala
2000:
Directed the period drama "The Golden Bowl"; released in USA in 2001
:
With Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, wrote screenplay for "Le Divorce" (lensed 2002); also directed
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Oregon: Eugene , Oregon - 1951
University of Southern California: Los Angeles , California - 1957

Notes

"I never thought of myself as one of those fiery directors. In front of audiences, at any rate, Ismail [Merchant] is just the opposite. Which is good. Our team is really three people, including Ruth [Prawer Jhabvala]. Of course, we quarrel often, but never in a loud-voiced way. In the end, we work together, each with a strong ego, but never coming down flatly on one another. If one of us is not with the others, that one is missed. Filmmaking just wouldn't be as much fun without Ruth and Ismail." --James Ivory quoted in Biography Magazine, November 1998.

"I would like to think [our films are] elegant, but that the elegance is a mental one. The elegance is in the script--not only just as an adjective. The script is well-thought out and has been well-written. I think that's where elegance shows in a movie. You can have people in all sorts of fancy clothes and have the most elegant big cars, but if it's a lousy script, you go nowhere. The script is where elegance starts in a film." --Ivory quoted in DGA News, April-May 1995.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Edward Patrick Ivory. Lumber company owner. Provided substantial backing for first MIP production "The Householder" (1963).
mother:
Hallie Millicent Ivory.

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute