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Filmmaker Ismail Merchant Dies
AP ^ | 5/25/05 | BETH GARDINER

Posted on 05/25/2005 11:21:16 AM PDT by Borges

LONDON - Filmmaker Ismail Merchant, who with partner James Ivory became synonymous with classy costume drama in films such as "A Room With A View" and "Howards End," died Wednesday. He was 68.

Merchant died surrounded by family and friends at a hospital in London, Merchant Ivory Productions said.

Merchant, who was born in Bombay but spent most of his life in the West, had been unwell for some time and recently underwent surgery for abdominal ulcers, according to Indian television reports.

Merchant and Ivory, an American, made some 40 films together and won six Oscars since forming their famous partnership in 1961 with German-born screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.

Their hits — especially E.M. Forster adaptations like "A Room With a View" and "Howards End" — helped revive the public's taste for well-made, emotionally literate period drama.

In an interview with The Associated Press last year, Merchant said Merchant-Ivory films worked because they captured great stories.

"It should be a good story — speak about a time and place that is permanent," he said. "It should capture something wonderful with some great characters whether it's set in the past or in the future."

Merchant generally served as producer, the business mind behind the collaboration, while Ivory directed.

Merchant first traveled to the United States in 1958 to study for a business degree at New York University.

He met Ivory in a New York City coffee shop in 1961. Their first film together, "The Householder," was based on a novel by Prawer Jhabvala, and its 1963 premiere was held at the residence of then-U.S. Ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith.

"When we first began, Ruth told us she had never written a screenplay," Merchant told AP. "That was not a problem since I had never produced a feature film and Jim had never directed one."

Merchant and Ivory departed in recent years from the flawlessly appointed period films for which they were famous.

They offered their take on French farce in 2003 with "Le Divorce," starring Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts.

They also were at work on "The Goddess," a musical about the Hindu goddess Shakti, starring a singing, dancing Tina Turner. Also to be released is "The White Countess," a period drama set in China and starring Ralph Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS:
The literary adatpations the Merchant Ivory team did hopefully brought more people to read the books. R.I.P.
1 posted on 05/25/2005 11:21:16 AM PDT by Borges
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Even though he passed you can still rent his movies if your lookinf for a way to fsll asleep.


2 posted on 05/25/2005 11:25:05 AM PDT by since1868
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To: Borges
Let me fix that lede.

Filmmaker Ismail Merchant, who with partner James Ivory became synonymous with classy costume stultifyingly boring drama in films insomnia cures such as "A Room With A View" and "Howards End," died Wednesday.
3 posted on 05/25/2005 11:26:45 AM PDT by Xenalyte (End women's suffrage! Hasn't the country suffered enough?)
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To: Xenalyte

I have a feeling this thread will be filled with such epithets. :-) do you like Forster? I've never read him but am told that their films missed his spirit by a country mile.


4 posted on 05/25/2005 11:28:39 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges

I'm sorry to hear of his passing. I loved the Merchant-Ivory movies. May God comfort his family in their grief.


5 posted on 05/25/2005 11:29:27 AM PDT by American Quilter
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To: Xenalyte
LOL!!LOL!!

How true!!

6 posted on 05/25/2005 11:30:13 AM PDT by Lion in Winter (Getting old is NOT for sissies.... trust me, I know!)
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To: Borges

My favorite is "The Europeans", most of which was filmed nearby in New Ipswich, New Hampshire. Not boring, but respectful of the pace of the times, and rather poignant.

(Some of their other films ARE boring, especially the ones with "stars".)


7 posted on 05/25/2005 11:30:24 AM PDT by LibFreeOrDie (L'chaim!)
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To: Borges

Now NOBODY will hire Jeremy Irons.


8 posted on 05/25/2005 11:30:54 AM PDT by martin_fierro (_____oooo_( )_oooo_____)
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To: Borges

Where the films were also... soooooooooooooooo gayyyyyyyyyyyyy????


9 posted on 05/25/2005 11:31:55 AM PDT by Lion in Winter (Getting old is NOT for sissies.... trust me, I know!)
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To: LibFreeOrDie
The problem is the idea that Henry James is a good subject for film adaptation. Huh? "Hey this book has pages upon pages of internal monologues about the psychological implications of taking another sip of tea....I SMELL BOX OFFICE!"
10 posted on 05/25/2005 11:32:25 AM PDT by Borges
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To: martin_fierro
"Now NOBODY will hire Jeremy Irons."

And, what pray tell is wrong with that???? LOL!

11 posted on 05/25/2005 11:33:30 AM PDT by Lion in Winter (Getting old is NOT for sissies.... trust me, I know!)
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To: martin_fierro
Now NOBODY will hire Jeremy Irons.

former National Review film critic John Simon once said that the only part Irons is suitable for is an adaptation of Tolstoy's 'The Living Corpse'
12 posted on 05/25/2005 11:36:01 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges

It did indeed. To watch his movies was like reading a good novel. He tried not to pick away the details that make up a novel and sometimes bog down a movie.

They were not exactly 'dude' flicks. Well done Sir. R.I.P.


13 posted on 05/25/2005 11:36:29 AM PDT by poobear
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To: Xenalyte

LOL!


14 posted on 05/25/2005 11:37:12 AM PDT by Constitution Day ("It's hard to get an answer when you haven't got a clue" - - The Futureheads)
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To: Borges

Forster is part of a literary posse whose sole aim in writing, it seems, was to bore me silly. Other members include Henry James, Pearl Buck, and George Eliot.

Now you gotta understand, I read a lot. I read all the time. I adore reading . . . but it has to have a point. About half my collection is history, and the other half is fiction and literature.

I have books that I've had since I was a child, and that I re-read periodically, because the story is just damn good ("Peter Pan and Wendy" is one; "The Lord of the Rings" would be another). I've also found books - for example, "White Oleanders" and "She's Come Undone," both Oprah picks - that I couldn't drop fast enough.

Those particular two incensed me. I'm still mad I wasted time reading them under the false pretenses that they were worth a damn, and I want my five hours back.


15 posted on 05/25/2005 11:37:29 AM PDT by Xenalyte (End women's suffrage! Hasn't the country suffered enough?)
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To: Borges
former National Review film critic John Simon once said that the only part Irons is suitable for is an adaptation of Tolstoy's 'The Living Corpse'

If Irons gets that part, what will John Carradine do?
16 posted on 05/25/2005 11:38:20 AM PDT by Xenalyte (End women's suffrage! Hasn't the country suffered enough?)
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To: Xenalyte

"Howards End"

A film I was fearful never would.

Let me guess: did he and Ivory also make "The Remains of the Day"?
Yet another movie in which periods of intense boredom were occasionally interrupted by idiotic dialogue.


17 posted on 05/25/2005 11:40:31 AM PDT by Redbob
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To: Redbob

"Remains of the Day" was indeed another Merchant-Ivory gem.


18 posted on 05/25/2005 11:42:18 AM PDT by Xenalyte (End women's suffrage! Hasn't the country suffered enough?)
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To: Xenalyte

George Eliot is a severly acquired taste. She was the first to internalize action though.


19 posted on 05/25/2005 11:42:59 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Xenalyte

I really liked HOWARD'S END. Emma Thompson was just gorgeous in that flick!


20 posted on 05/25/2005 11:43:28 AM PDT by Rummyfan
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To: Xenalyte
I've also found books - for example, "White Oleanders" and "She's Come Undone," both Oprah picks - that I couldn't drop fast enough.

On a trip home once, White Oleander was the in-flight movie. Not the movie you want to play when there is no chance for escape. It was all that the flight attendants could do to avoid mass suicides. ;-)

21 posted on 05/25/2005 11:44:59 AM PDT by Ghengis (Alexander was a wuss!)
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To: Redbob
Let me guess: did he and Ivory also make "The Remains of the Day"?

Yep, that was another of theirs.

22 posted on 05/25/2005 11:45:52 AM PDT by Rummyfan
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To: Redbob

There we were in the darkened movie "palace" watching "Howard's End" .... I was so bored.... that when that cabinet fell on that guy.... I laughed. Sorry but I just couldn't help it. Then, to add injury to insult/boredom... my wife then puched me in the side( OUCH).


23 posted on 05/25/2005 11:47:03 AM PDT by Lion in Winter (Getting old is NOT for sissies.... trust me, I know!)
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To: Borges

I helped Mr. Merchant once when I worked at Tiffany's in NYC. He told me to charge the purchase to his corporate account and when I pulled out his Merchant/Ivory Productions corporate account file, I asked him which one are you? Merchant or Ivory? I never thought he'd be either one of the big two but he said Merchant and and laughed. I think he was even wearing a hat. He was a real gentleman. He was pretty old back then and it had to be eight years ago.


24 posted on 05/25/2005 11:48:17 AM PDT by clarissaexplainsitall (stewed tomatoes are just plain gross)
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To: Xenalyte

They made some good films, there is room in Hollywood for a few films that don't have car chases, buddy buddy cop films, an extended 20 minute rap sequence, products tied in with every fast food merchant, monosyllabic dialog, things getting "blown up" everywhere, remakes of unoriginal films, sequels to crappy films, and Julia Robberts chickflicks that have the exact same plot every time.

I guess his crime was that he made films that didn't appeal to the hyperactive 14 year old boy market that everything seems to be aimed at these days.


25 posted on 05/25/2005 11:51:07 AM PDT by Central Scrutiniser (Remember when conservatives embraced the rule of law? (Do ya?))
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To: Borges

I have seen most of his movies and I HAVE read the books. I will miss him, may he rest in peace.


26 posted on 05/25/2005 11:55:28 AM PDT by kalee
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To: Ghengis

I would have punctured my eyeballs with my own fingers rather than watch that.


27 posted on 05/25/2005 11:56:24 AM PDT by Xenalyte (End women's suffrage! Hasn't the country suffered enough?)
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To: Central Scrutiniser

Nah - his crime was that he made movies out of unreadable books. (What can I say? I'm just not a fan of turn-of-the-century literature.)

Making boring movies out of boring books isn't a crime, but not enough to qualify one for Great Auteur status.


28 posted on 05/25/2005 11:57:57 AM PDT by Xenalyte (End women's suffrage! Hasn't the country suffered enough?)
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To: Xenalyte

Its summer, I get grumpy because all the films are of the Bruckheimer variety, crashes, shootouts, sappy dialog and general dreck.

Thank god for DVD's and the Independent Film Channel.


29 posted on 05/25/2005 12:15:35 PM PDT by Central Scrutiniser (Remember when conservatives embraced the rule of law? (Do ya?))
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To: Redbob
Let me guess: did he and Ivory also make "The Remains of the Day"?

They sure did. One of my favorite films. Fantastic performances by Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins (who absolutely got robbed at Oscar time - his performance was incomparably better than Tom Hanks' in "Philadelphia").

Yet another movie in which periods of intense boredom were occasionally interrupted by idiotic dialogue.

Hmm... It's true that nothing blew up. No one took their clothes off. There were no chases with guns blaring. I suppose some would consider that boring...

I'm going to quote Roger Ebert's review because I think he put it very well:
"The Remains of the Day" is a subtle, thoughtful movie. There are emotional upheavals in it, but they take place in shadows and corners, in secret. It tells a very sad story - three stories, really. Not long ago I praised a somewhat similar film, Martin Scorsese's "The Age of Innocence," also about characters who place duty and position above the needs of the heart. I got some letters from readers who complained the movie was boring, that "nothing happens in it." To which I was tempted to reply: If you had understood what happened in it, it would not have been boring. "

30 posted on 05/25/2005 12:18:37 PM PDT by Lyford
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To: Lyford

I liked Remains of the Day as well. To each his own. "Boredom" is such a subjective thing it is, by itself, practically useless as criticism.


31 posted on 05/25/2005 12:31:22 PM PDT by macamadamia
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To: Xenalyte

I disagree. Those are both excellent films.


32 posted on 05/25/2005 1:35:53 PM PDT by baseballfanjm
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To: Xenalyte
I would have punctured my eyeballs with my own fingers rather than watch that.

If not for the free booze and impromptu, risque dances of the flight attendants, it would have been ugly.

33 posted on 05/26/2005 5:24:43 AM PDT by Ghengis (Alexander was a wuss!)
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To: Xenalyte
Filmmaker Ismail Merchant, who with partner James Ivory became synonymous with classy costume stultifyingly boring drama in films insomnia cures such as "A Room With A View" and "Howards End"

I agree. Not only were Merchant/Ivory flicks (I refuse to call them "films") stultifyingly boring, they were pretentious and artsy-fartsy. Vaguely Marxist, too, IIRC.

Oddly, the last movie I saw that I thought was any good was a FRENCH flick called Look at Me.

I'm not a foreign-flick snob and I normally detest anything Frrrennnnch, but "Look at Me" was one funny, intelligent, unpretentious and REAL movie.

34 posted on 05/26/2005 6:15:38 AM PDT by shhrubbery! (The 'right to choose' = The right to choose death --for somebody else.)
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To: shhrubbery!
Not only were Merchant/Ivory flicks (I refuse to call them "films") stultifyingly boring, they were pretentious and artsy-fartsy. Vaguely Marxist, too, IIRC.

How so? They were faithful adaptations of 19th century British fiction so the class elements are going to be there. If they were Marxist then Dickens was Marxist.
35 posted on 05/26/2005 2:56:42 PM PDT by Borges
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