Ismail Merchant dead at

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Old May 25th, 2005, 02:48 PM   #1
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Ismail Merchant dead

Ismail Merchant, the producer half of Merchant-Ivory productions is dead at 68. He had been unwell for some time and was recently hospitalized for treatment of ulcers.

His IMDB list includes over 40 films, many done with his directing partner, James Ivory. Among his films were "The Remains of the Day", "Howard's End", and "A Room With a View".

He was in post-production of "The White Countess", a story about a Russian noblewoman living in Shanghai starring Ralph Pheinnes, Natasha Richardson, Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave.

Like a lot of movie viewers, I was introduced to the Merchant-Ivory brand of films with "A Room With a View", a film that was almost synonymous with arthouse literate costume dramas in the mid 80s. The popularity of their films was also tied in with the rise of Miramax. But they began much earlier.

Ismail Merchant began his film career by financing a James Ivory film written by their other longtime collaborator, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, ("The Householder" - 1963). They began to gain notice in 1984 with "The Bostonians", starring Christopher Reeve, which put a stamp on their style of emotional conflict set against societal rules and also adapting literary works. Merchant-Ivory was catapulted into the front ranks of moviedom when they were nominated several times for "A Room With a View" in 1985. "Maurice" in 1987 was a homosexual romance set in Edwardian Cambridge was adapted from an E.M. Forster novel. The next year they made "The Deceivers" starring Pierce Brosnan, a more conventional adventure about a British soldier investigating the thugee cult. They returned to the Oscars in 1992 with "Howard's End", winning Ruth Prawer Jhabvala her second Oscar for best screenplay adapted. And again the next year they were nominated several times for "The Remains of the Day".

Since "Jefferson in Paris" in 1995, their films were never that widely distributed (if you can call the arthouse circuit a wide circulation). "Le Divorce" from last year was a return to wide release but it was a farce, not the sumptuous historical drama for which they will always be known.
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Last edited by Keith Loh; May 26th, 2005 at 09:56 AM.
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Old May 25th, 2005, 06:44 PM   #2
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That's sorry news

I've always loved "Shakespeare-Wallah." That generation's passing too quickly.
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Old May 25th, 2005, 08:16 PM   #3
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I was just watching a great episode of Kumars at No. 42 the other day, and he was on with Helena Bonham Carter. It's too bad - he's been quite a positive force. He'll be sorely missed by many.
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