Merchant Ivory


Merchant Ivory Productions is a film company founded in 1961 by Indian producer/director Ismail Merchant (born Ismail Noor Muhammad Abdul Rahman; December 25, 1936 – May 25, 2005) and American director/screenwriter James Francis Ivory (born June 7, 1928). In addition to being business partners, the two were romantic partners 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 German-born British and American novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (May 7, 1927 – April 3, 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.

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. During Merchants life their films were nominated for many awards, including 30 Academy Award nominations, including 3 for Best Picture, 3 for Best Director (Ivory), 3 for Best Adapted Screenplay (Jhabvala, who won 2), while A Room with a View won for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design, and Howard’s End won Best Production Design. Ivory is currently the oldest Academy Award Winner at age 89, having won Best Adapted Screenplay for Call Me by Your Name (2017).

Some actors and producers associated with Merchant Ivory include Maggie Smith (nominated Best Supporting Actress for A Room with a View), Denholm Elliott (nominated Best Supporting Actor for A Room with a View), Leela Naidu, Madhur Jaffrey, Aparna Sen, Shashi Kapoor, Jennifer Kendal, Hugh Grant, James Wilby, Rupert Graves, Simon Callow, Anthony Hopkins (nominated Best Actor for The Remains of the Day), Glenn Close, Uma Thurman, Emma Thompson (won Best Actress for Howard’s End and nominated for The Remains of the Day), Vanessa Redgrave (nominated for Best Actress for The Bostonians and Best Supporting Actress for Howard’s End), Natasha Richardson, Ralph Fiennes, Colin Firth, Daniel Day-Lewis, Helena Bonham Carter, Christopher Walken, Stockard Channing, Julianne Moore, Paul Newman, and Joanne Woodward.

All films directed by James Ivory, unless otherwise noted.

  • Venice: Theme and Variations (1957) – documentary short – made before collaboration with Merchant
  • The Sword and the Flute (1959) – documentary short
  • The Creation of Woman (1961) – directed by Charles F. Schwep
  • The Householder (1963) – co-written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (based on her novel)
  • The Delhi Way (1964) – documentary
  • Shakespeare-Wallah (1965)
  • The Guru (1969) – written by Jhabvala
  • Bombay Talkie (1970) – written by Jhabvala
  • Adventures of a Brown Man in Search of Civilization (1972) – TV movie
  • Savages (1972)
  • Mahatma and the Mad Boy (1974) – directed by Ismail Merchant – short
  • The Wild Party (1975)
  • Autobiography of a Princess (1975)
  • Roseland (1977) – written by Jhabvala
  • Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie’s Pictures (1978) – written by Jhabvala
  • The Europeans (1979) – written by Jhabvala
  • The Five Forty-Eight (1979) – TV movie
  • Jane Austen in Manhattan (1980) – written by Jhabvala
  • Quartet (1981) – written by Jhabvala
  • The Courtesans of Bombay (1983) – directed by Ismail Merchant – co-written by written Merchant, Ivory, & Jhabvala – docudrama
  • Heat and Dust (1983) – written by Jhabvala
  • The Bostonians (1984) – written by Jhabvala
  • A Room with a View (1985) – written by Jhabvala
  • My Little Girl (1986) – directed by Connie Kaiserman
  • Maurice (1987)
  • The Deceivers (1988) – directed by Nicholas Meyer
  • The Perfect Murder (1988) – directed by Zafar Hai
  • Slaves of New York (1989)
  • Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (1990) – written by Jhabvala
  • The Ballad of the Sad Café (1991) – directed by Simon Callow
  • Street Musicians of Bombay (1991) – directed by Richard Robbins
  • Howard’s End (1992) – written by Jhabvala
  • In Custody (1993) – directed by Merchant
  • Remains of the Day (1993) – written by Jhabvala
  • Jefferson in Paris (1995) – written by Jhabvala
  • Feast of July (1995) – directed by Christopher Menaul
  • Lumière & Company (1995) – directed with Merzak Allouache, Gabriel Axel, Vicente Aranda, Theo Angelopoulos, Bigas Luna, John Boorman, Youssef Chahine, Alain Corneau, Costa-Gavras, Raymond Depardon, Francis Girod, Peter Greenaway, Lasse Hallström, Michael Haneke, Hugh Hudson, Gaston Kaboré, Abbas Kiarostami, Cédric Klapisch, Andrei Konchalovsky, Patrice Leconte, Spike Lee, Claude Lelouch, David Lynch, Claude Miller, Sarah Moon, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Arthur Penn, Lucian Pintilie, Jacques Rivette, Helma Sanders-Brahms, Jerry Schatzberg, Nadine Trintignant, Fernando Trueba, Liv Ullmann, Yoshishige Yoshida, Jaco Van Dormael, Régis Wargnier, Wim Wenders, & Zhang Yimou – anthology – non Merchant Ivory Production
  • Surviving Picasso (1996) – written by Jhabvala
  • The Proprietor (1996) – directed by Merchant
  • Side Streets (1998) – directed by Tony Gerber
  • A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries (1998) – written by Jhabvala
  • Cotton Mary (1999) – directed by Merchant
  • The Golden Bowl (2000) – written by Jhabvala
  • The Mystic Masseur (2001) – directed by Merchant
  • Merci Docteur Rey (2002) – directed by Andrew Litvack
  • Le Divorce (2003) – co-written by Jhabvala
  • Heights (2005) – directed by Chris Terrio
  • The White Countess (2005) – last film produced by Merchant before his death
  • Before the Rains (2007) – directed by Santosh Sivan
  • The City of Your Final Destination (2009) – written by written by Jhabvala
  • Call Me By Your Name (2017) – directed by Luca Guadagnino – written by James Ivory (also co-producer)