James Ivory


Director
James Ivory

About

Also Known As
James Francis Ivory
Birth Place
Berkeley, California, USA
Born
June 07, 1928

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 portraya...

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.

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 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.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

The City of Your Final Destination (2009)
Director
The White Countess (2005)
Director
The Golden Bowl (2001)
Director
A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (1998)
Director
Lumiere Et Compagnie (1996)
Director
Surviving Picasso (1996)
Director
Jefferson in Paris (1995)
Director
The Remains Of The Day (1993)
Director
Howard's End (1992)
Director
Mr. And Mrs. Bridge (1990)
Director
Slaves of New York (1989)
Director
Maurice (1987)
Director
A Room With a View (1986)
Director
The Bostonians (1984)
Director
Heat and Dust (1983)
Director
Quartet (1981)
Director
Jane Austen in Manhattan (1980)
Director
The Europeans (1979)
Director
Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures (1979)
Director
Roseland (1977)
Director
Autobiography of a Princess (1975)
Director
The Wild Party (1975)
Director
Savages (1972)
Director
Adventures of a Brown Man in Search of Civilization (1972)
Director
Bombay Talkie (1970)
Director
The Guru (1969)
Director
Shakespeare Wallah (1966)
Director
The Householder (1963)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

The Europeans (1979)

Writer (Feature Film)

Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Screenplay
A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (1998)
Screenplay
Maurice (1987)
Screenplay
Courtesans of Bombay (1986)
Screenwriter
Savages (1972)
Based on an idea by
Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls (1972)
Screenwriter
Adventures of a Brown Man in Search of Civilization (1972)
Screenwriter
Bombay Talkie (1970)
Screenwriter
The Guru (1969)
Story writ for screen by
Shakespeare Wallah (1966)
Screenwriter

Producer (Feature Film)

Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Producer
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Executive Producer
Courtesans of Bombay (1986)
Producer
Mahatma and the Mad Boy (1974)
Producer
Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls (1972)
Producer

Production Companies (Feature Film)

The Guru (1969)
Company

Producer (Special)

Noon Wine (1985)
Executive Producer

Director (Short)

The Sword and the Flute (1959)
Director
Venice: Theme and Variations (1957)
Director

Writer (Short)

Venice: Theme and Variations (1957)
Screenwriter

Producer (Short)

Sweet Sounds (1976)
Producer
Venice: Theme and Variations (1957)
Producer

Film Production - Main (Short)

Venice: Theme and Variations (1957)
Photography

Life Events

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

Videos

Movie Clip

Remains Of The Day, The (1993) - One Doesn't Do That Lord Darlington (James Fox), with friends, observes the accident with Mr. Stevens senior (Peter Vaughan), then consults with his son, the butler Mr. Stevens the younger (Anthony Hopkins), in The Remains Of The Day, 1993.
Remains Of The Day, The (1993) - Dignity In Keeping... Mr. Stevens the younger (Anthony Hopkins) holding forth at the servants' meal with Charlie (Ben Chaplin), Mr. Stevens senior (Peter Vaughan) and Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson) in The Remains Of The Day, 1993, from Ismail Merchant and James Ivory.
Room With A View, A (1986) - You'd Have To Fly Over The Wall Touring Florence, at the Piazza della Signoria, producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory working from the E.M. Forster novel, as Lucy (Helena Bonham Carter) observes Italian street action, and is rescued by rogue-ish George (Julian Sands), in A Room With A View 1986.
Room With A View, A (1986) - I Promessi Sposi Following her eventful trip to Florence, we meet the brother and mother (Rupert Graves, Rosemary Leach) of Lucy (Helena Bonham-Carter) and Daniel Day-Lewis, who’s become her fiancè, which doesn’t please the vicar Beebe (Simon Callow), in the Merchant-Ivory breakthrough feature A Room With A View 1986.
Room With A View, A (1986) - We Have No View Straight to the topic, we meet Lucy (Helena Bonham Carter), her chaperone (Maggie Smith) and their less polite but equally English fellows (Denholm Elliott, Julian Sands as the Emersons), ca. 1908, at a Florentine pensione, Judi Dench also dining, opening the Merchant-Ivory hit from the E.M. Forster novel, A Room With A View 1986.
Remains Of The Day, The (1993) - For One Such As Yourself An early encounter between butler James Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) and new housekeeper Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson), regarding his father, also a servant, in the Ismail Merchant-James Ivory drama The Remains Of The Day, 1993.
Courtesans Of Bombay - No End To Learning Actress Zhora Segal playing a "retired courtesan" imparts some of her wisdom, as well as her continuing service to the trade, in the Merchant-Ivory made-for-tv semi-documentary Courtesans Of Bombay, 1983, screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Courtesans Of Bombay - They Are Not Bad People Static shots introducing the enclave called "Pavan Pool," site of much of the action, then Kareem Samar, playing a composite-character, the landlord, in the Merchant-Ivory made-for-tv film Courtesans Of Bombay, 1983.
Sweet Sounds (1976) - The Sounds Of Your Names Instructor Jean Whitelock with her gifted students and the Mannes College Of Music, then a performance from pianist Hui-Kung Suh, in Richard Robbins' film Sweet Sounds, 1976, from Merchant-Ivory productions.
Street Musicians Of Bombay - On My First Morning Director Richard Robbins, appearing and narrating the opening sequence of his Merchant-Ivory produced film, Street Musicians Of Bombay, 1994.
Adventures Of A Brown Man In Search Of Civilization - An Unknown Indian Produced and directed for television by Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, the opening scene, narrated by Barry Foster, the introduction of the subject, the celebrated writer Nirad Chaudhuri, from Adventures Of A Brown Man In Search Of Civilization, 1972
Adventures Of A Brown Man In Search Of Civilization - To My Wife In Chiswick, London at a dinner party, Indian writer Nirad Chaudhuri reads the two dedications of his autobiography, the first famously contorversial, in Ismail Merchant and James Ivory's made-for-tv documentary, Adventures Of A Brown Man In Search Of Civilization, 1972.

Trailer

Family

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

Bibliography

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.