James Ivory
Richard Jerome Hazen

(1928-06-07) June 7, 1928 (age 96)
Alma mater
  • Film director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1953–present
PartnerIsmail Merchant (1961–2005; Merchant's death)

James Francis Ivory (born Richard Jerome Hazen[1] June 7, 1928) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. Ivory along with Indian film producer Ismail Merchant, his domestic as well as professional partner, and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, were the principals in Merchant Ivory Productions. Together they made film adaptations from the novels of E.M. Forster, Henry James and others. Their body of work is celebrated for its elegance, sophistication, literary fidelity, strong performances, as well as its complex themes and rich characters.[2]

Merchant–Ivory was established in 1961 in India where they made modestly budgeted films including The Householder (1963), Shakespeare Wallah (1965), and Bombay Talkie (1970). Ivory began adapting films from classic novels such as The Europeans (1979), Quartet (1981), Heat and Dust (1983), The Bostonians (1984), Maurice (1987), and Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (1990). During this period he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for A Room with a View (1985), Howards End (1992), and The Remains of the Day (1993). At the age of 89, Ivory won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on Luca Guadagnino's Call Me by Your Name (2017).[3]

Over his career he has earned numerous accolades including an Academy Award, three BAFTA Awards, and a Writers Guild of America Award as well as nominations for three Golden Globe Awards. He received the Directors Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. Ivory released his autobiography Solid Ivory: Memoirs (2021) and directed the documentary A Cooler Climate (2022).

Early life and education

Ivory was born Richard Jerome Hazen in Berkeley, California, and adopted shortly after birth by Hallie Millicent (née de Loney) and Edward Patrick Ivory, a sawmill operator; they renamed him James Francis Ivory.[1] He grew up in Klamath Falls, Oregon.[4] He attended the University of Oregon, where he received a degree in fine arts in 1951. Ivory is a recipient of the Lawrence Medal, UO's College of Design's highest honor for its graduates. His papers are held by UO Libraries' Special Collections and University Archives.[5] He was UO's 2019-2020 honorary degree recipient.[6]

Ivory then attended the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where he directed the short film Four in the Morning (1953). He wrote, photographed, and produced Venice: Theme and Variations, a half-hour documentary submitted as his thesis film for his master's degree in cinema.[7] The film was named by The New York Times in 1957 as one of the ten best non-theatrical films of the year. He graduated from USC in 1957.[8][citation needed]


1959–1978: Beginnings and early films

Main article: Merchant Ivory Productions

Ivory met producer Ismail Merchant at a screening of Ivory's documentary The Sword and the Flute in New York City in 1959. In May 1961, Merchant and Ivory formed the film production company Merchant Ivory Productions. Merchant and Ivory were long-term life partners.[9][10] Their professional and romantic partnership lasted 44 years, from 1961 until Merchant's death in 2005.[9] Ivory owned several homes, including the Jacob Rutsen Van Rensselaer House and Mill Complex in Claverack, New York.[11][12][10]

Their partnership has a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest partnership in independent cinema history. Until Merchant's death in 2005, they produced 40 films, including a number of films that received Academy, BAFTA and Golden Globe awards among many others. Ivory directed 17 theatrical films for Merchant Ivory, and novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala was the screenwriter for 22 of their productions in addition to another film produced by Merchant Ivory after Merchant's death.[citation needed]

Of this collaboration, Ismail Merchant once commented: "It is a strange marriage we have at Merchant Ivory ... I am an Indian Muslim, Ruth is a German Jew, and Jim is a Protestant American. Someone once described us as a three-headed god. Maybe they should have called us a three-headed monster!"[13]

1979–1993: Breakthrough and acclaim

In 1985, Ivory directed a film adaptation of the classic E. M. Forster novel A Room with a View. The film starred Helena Bonham Carter who was 19 years old at the time, in her first major film role. The film also co-starred Julian Sands, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Denholm Elliott, Simon Callow, and Daniel Day-Lewis. The film received universal praise with The Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars, writing: "It is an intellectual film, but intellectual about emotions: It encourages us to think about how we feel, instead of simply acting on our feelings."[14] The film received eight Academy Award nominations including Best Director for Ivory. He also received Best Director nominations from the British Academy Film Awards, the Golden Globes Awards, and the Directors Guild of America.[citation needed]

The following year Ivory directed another Forster adaptation, the romantic drama Maurice (1987). The film is a gay love story in the restrictive and repressed culture of Edwardian England. The story follows its main character, Maurice Hall, through university, a tumultuous relationship, struggling to fit into society, and ultimately being united with his life partner. The film stars James Wilby and Hugh Grant in their first major film appearances, and also features Rupert Graves, Simon Callow, Denholm Elliott, Mark Tandy, Billie Whitelaw, Judy Parfitt, Phoebe Nicholls, and Ben Kingsley. In a 2017 retrospective in The New Yorker, Sarah Larson wrote, "...For many gay men coming of age in the eighties and nineties, Maurice was revelatory: a first glimpse, onscreen or anywhere, of what love between men could look like".[15] Director James Ivory has added to the legacy on the film saying, "So many people have come up to me since Maurice and pulled me aside and said, 'I just want you to know you changed my life.'"[15] Ivory won the Venice Film Festival's Silver Lion for Best Director.[citation needed]

This was followed in 1990 by Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, which was adapted by Jhabvala from the novels by Evan S. Connell. According to Ivory, "the world of Mr. and Mrs. Bridge is the world I grew up in...It's the only film I've ever made that was about my own childhood and adolescence."[16] The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress (Joanne Woodward), as well as two New York Film Critics Circle awards. Ivory would later call Mr. & Mrs. Bridge a personal favorite, adding that it was the one film he would most like to see reappraised.[17]

In 1992, Merchant-Ivory tackled their third Forster adaptation, Howards End, based on the acclaimed novel and starring Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Anthony Hopkins, and Vanessa Redgrave. The film premiered at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival where it competed for the Palme d'Or and went on to critical acclaim. Ivory received his second Academy Award for Best Director nomination. The film also received three Academy Awards for Best Actress (Emma Thompson), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Production Design. The film also received eleven British Academy Film Award nominations, and four Golden Globe Award nominations. In 2016, the film was selected for screening as part of the Cannes Classics section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival,[18] and was released theatrically after restoration on August 26, 2016.[19]

The following year, Merchant-Ivory directed the period drama The Remains of the Day (1993), adapted from the acclaimed novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro. American filmmaker Mike Nichols served as one of the film's producers, and the film reunited Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. Supporting performances included James Fox, Christopher Reeve, Hugh Grant, and Lena Headey. The film revolved around a dedicated butler who serves an English landlord in the years leading up to the second World War. The film was a commercial and critical success with Vincent Canby of The New York Times said, in another favorable review, "Here's a film for adults. It's also about time to recognize that Mr. Ivory is one of our finest directors, something that critics tend to overlook because most of his films have been literary adaptations."[20] The film received eight Academy Award nominations with Ivory receiving his third nomination for Best Director. He also received nominations from the British Academy Film Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and Directors Guild of America.[citation needed]

In 1999, the British Film Institute ranked The Remains of the Day the 64th-greatest British film of the 20th century.[21]

1995–2009: Established work

In 1995 he directed the film Jefferson in Paris starring Nick Nolte as Thomas Jefferson, Thandiwe Newton as Sally Hemings, and Gwyneth Paltrow as Patsy Jefferson.[22] The following year he directed the film Surviving Picasso starring Anthony Hopkins as the painter Pablo Picasso.[23] In 1998 he directed and co-wrote the film A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries, a film divided into three segments each named after a different protagonist.[24] In 2000 he directed the romantic period drama The Golden Bowl which was adapted from the Henry James novel of the same name.[25] He directed the romantic comedy Le Divorce starring Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts.[26]

In 2005 he directed the film The White Countess written by Kazuo Ishiguro starring Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, and Vanessa Redgrave.[27] In 2009, Ivory reunited with Anthony Hopkins for the romantic drama The City of Your Final Destination co-starring Laura Linney.[28] The film is the first Merchant Ivory film production without the participation of producer Ismail Merchant due to his death in 2005.[29]

2017–present: Career resurgence

In 2017, Ivory wrote and co-produced the film adaptation of Call Me by Your Name, a 2007 coming-of-age novel by André Aciman. The film, a romantic drama, was directed by Luca Guadagnino and is the final installment in his thematic "Desire" trilogy, following I Am Love (2009), and A Bigger Splash (2015). Set in 1983 in northern Italy, the story chronicles the romantic relationship between a 17-year-old, Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), and Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old graduate-student assistant to Elio's father (Michael Stuhlbarg), an archaeology professor.[30]

Ivory originally was to co-direct the film based on Guadagnino's suggestion; however, there was no contract to that effect.[31][32] Ivory accepted the offer to co-direct on the condition that he would also write the film;[32] he spent "about nine months" on the screenplay.[33][34] Ivory stepped down from a directorial role in 2016, leaving Guadagnino to direct the film alone.[35][31] According to Ivory, financiers from Memento Films International did not want two directors involved with the project because they "thought it would be awkward ... It might take longer, it would look terrible if we got in fights on the set, and so on."[33][34] Guadagnino said Ivory's version would have likely been "a much more costly [and] different film" that would have been too expensive to make.[36][37] Ivory retained the sole credit as screenwriter[38] The film was the only narrative feature he has written but not directed.[38] Despite stepping aside as director, he continued to remain involved with other aspects of the production.[38]

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and garnered huge critical success. Ivory's screenplay brought him numerous awards and nominations. Ivory won awards for Best Adapted Screenplay from the Academy Awards, British Academy Film Awards, Writers Guild of America, the Critics' Choice Awards, and the Scripter Awards, among others. Upon winning the Oscar and BAFTA at the age of 89, Ivory became the oldest-ever winner in any category for both awards.[39][40]

In 2018, Ivory took part in the film Dance Again with Me Heywood! directed by Michele Diomà.[41] At 94 he directed the documentary film, A Cooler Climate (2022), about boxes of film footage he shot during a life-changing trip to Afghanistan in 1960, which had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival in 2022.[42] Raymond Ang of GQ wrote that the project "might be the most personal" film of his career.[43] In May 2023, an upcoming biographical documentary portrait titled, James Ivory: In Search of Love and Beauty, directed by Christopher Manning was announced. The film chronicles the life and work of Ivory and features Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Wes Anderson and others.[44]

Personal life

Ivory is gay, as he detailed in his memoir, Solid Ivory, which gives details of his relationships with his business partner Ismail Merchant, their composer Richard Robbins, and others such as Bruce Chatwin.[45]


Year Title Director Writer Notes
1953 Four in the Morning Yes No Short
1957 Venice: Theme and Variations Yes No Short
1959 The Sword and the Flute Yes No Short
1963 The Householder Yes No
1964 The Delhi Way Yes No Documentary
1965 Shakespeare Wallah Yes Yes
1969 The Guru Yes No
1970 Bombay Talkie Yes No
1972 Adventures of a Brown Man in Search of Civilization Yes No BBC TV documentary
1972 Savages Yes No
1973 Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls No Yes Short
1975 Autobiography of a Princess Yes No
1975 The Wild Party Yes No
1977 Roseland Yes No
1978 Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures Yes No
1979 The Europeans Yes No
1979 The Five Forty-Eight Yes No TV film
1980 Jane Austen in Manhattan Yes No
1981 Quartet Yes No
1983 Heat and Dust Yes No
1984 The Bostonians Yes No
1985 A Room with a View Yes No
1987 Maurice Yes Yes
1989 Slaves of New York Yes No
1990 Mr. & Mrs. Bridge Yes No
1992 Howards End Yes No
1993 The Remains of the Day Yes No
1995 Jefferson in Paris Yes No
1995 Lumière and Company Yes No Segment
1996 Surviving Picasso Yes No
1998 A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries Yes Yes
2000 The Golden Bowl Yes No
2003 Le Divorce Yes Yes
2005 The White Countess Yes No
2009 The City of Your Final Destination Yes No
2017 Call Me by Your Name No Yes Also producer
2022 A Cooler Climate Yes Yes Documentary, with Giles Gardner

Awards and honours

Main article: List of awards and nominations received by James Ivory

In 1985 A Room with a View was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and won three, for Jhabvala's adaptation of Forster's novel as well as for Best Costume and Best Production Design. A Room With a View was also voted Best Film of the year by the Critic's Circle Film Section of Great Britain, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the National Board of Review in the United States and in Italy, where the film won the Donatello Prize for Best Foreign Language Picture and Best Director. In 1987, Maurice received a Silver Lion Award for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival as well as Best Film Score for Richard Robbins and Best Actor Awards for co-stars James Wilby and Hugh Grant. 1990's Mr. and Mrs. Bridge would receive an Oscar nomination for Best Actress (Joanne Woodward), as well as Best Actress and Best Screenplay from the New York Film Critics Circle.[citation needed]

In 1992 Ivory directed another film adapted from Forster, Howards End. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and won three: Best Actress (Emma Thompson), Best Screenplay – Adaptation (Ruth Prawer Jhabvala), and Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (Luciana Arrighi/Ian Whittaker). The film also won Best Picture at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards, as well as awards for Best Picture, Best Actress for Emma Thompson and Best Director for Ivory from the National Board of Review. The Directors Guild of America awarded the D.W. Griffith award, its highest honor, to Ivory for his work. At the 1992 Cannes Film Festival the film won the 45th Anniversary Prize.[46] Howards End was immediately followed by The Remains of the Day, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.[citation needed]

For his work in Call Me by Your Name (2017), Ivory received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, a Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Adapted Screenplay,[47] Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and USC Scripter Award for Best Screenplay.[48] He was also nominated for the AACTA International Award for Best Screenplay, and the Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Screenplay.[49][50][51] At 89, Ivory is the oldest person to ever win an Academy Award in competition.[52]


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2022)

See also


  1. ^ a b c Jacobs, Alexandra (November 2, 2021). "James Ivory, Famous for Buttoned-Up Films, Is Frank About Sex and Much Else in His Memoir". The New York Times. p. C1. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 1, 2022.
  2. ^ "Where to begin with Merchant Ivory". British Film Institute. July 28, 2017. Retrieved May 24, 2024.
  3. ^ "James Ivory becomes Oscar's oldest winner with 'Call Me by Your Name'". The Los Angeles Times. March 5, 2018. Retrieved May 24, 2024.
  4. ^ "Film-maker James Ivory donates a collection of personal documents to the University of Oregon". Merchant Ivory Productions. Retrieved December 11, 2007.
  5. ^ "UO alum James Ivory wins Oscar for 'Call Me by Your Name'". Around the O. March 5, 2018. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  6. ^ "James Ivory | Office of the President". president.uoregon.edu. Retrieved May 7, 2024.
  7. ^ add
  8. ^ Notable Alumni, USC School of Cinematic Arts Archived August 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ a b Horn, John (May 26, 2005). "Obituaries; Ismail Merchant, 68; Producer of Stylish, Popular Period Dramas". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 25, 2012. Retrieved July 4, 2008.
  10. ^ a b Larson, Sarah (May 19, 2017). "James Ivory and the Making of a Historic Gay Love Story". The New Yorker. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  11. ^ Giovannini, Joseph (April 3, 1986). "MERCHANT AND IVORY'S COUNTRY RETREAT". The New York Times. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  12. ^ Hass, Nancy (September 11, 2015). "James Ivory's Home Befits His Extraordinary Life". The New York Times. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  13. ^ "Ismail Merchant". The Times. London. May 26, 2005. Archived from the original on November 21, 2008.
  14. ^ "A Room with a View Movie Review (1986)". Rogerebert.com. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  15. ^ a b Sarah Larson (May 19, 2017). "James Ivory and the Making of a Historic Gay Love Story". The New Yorker. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  16. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (February 18, 1990). "Partnerships Make a Movie". The New York Times. Retrieved April 15, 2021.
  17. ^ Evans, Everett (November 8, 2014). "Festival salutes the literate cinema of James Ivory". houstonchronicle.com. Retrieved April 15, 2021.
  18. ^ "Cannes Classics 2016". Cannes Film Festival. April 20, 2016. Archived from the original on February 10, 2017. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  19. ^ McNary, Dave (June 17, 2016). "Restored 'Howards End' to Be Released in Theaters". Variety. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  20. ^ Canby, Vincent (November 5, 1993). "Movie Review – The Remains of the Day – Review/Film: Remains of the Day; Blind Dignity: A Butler's Story". The New York Times. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  21. ^ British Film Institute - Top 100 British Films (1999). Retrieved August 27, 2016
  22. ^ "Jefferson in Paris (1995)". TCM. Retrieved May 24, 2024.
  23. ^ "Surviving Picasso (1996)". Rogerebert.com. Retrieved May 24, 2024.
  24. ^ "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 24, 2024.
  25. ^ "The Golden Bowl". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 24, 2024.
  26. ^ "Le Divorce". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 24, 2024.
  27. ^ "The White Countess". BBC. Retrieved May 24, 2024.
  28. ^ "James Ivory on The City of Your Final Destination". Vulture. April 16, 2010. Retrieved May 24, 2024.
  29. ^ Jones, Sam (May 26, 2005). "Film-maker Ismail Merchant dies, aged 68". The Guardian. Retrieved May 24, 2024.
  30. ^ "Call Me by Your Name is an erotic film in every sense of the word. It's also a masterpiece". Vox. November 21, 2017. Retrieved May 24, 2024.
  31. ^ a b Vivarelli, Nick (February 13, 2017). "Berlinale: Luca Guadagnino on Why 'Call Me by Your Name' Strikes Such Deep Chords". Variety. Archived from the original on August 18, 2017. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  32. ^ a b Vivarelli, Nick (October 6, 2017). "James Ivory on 'Call Me by Your Name' and Why American Male Actors Won't Do Nude Scenes (Exclusive)". Variety. Archived from the original on October 7, 2017. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  33. ^ a b McKittrick, Christopher (May 15, 2017). "James Ivory on Screenwriting". Creative Screenwriting. CS Publications. Archived from the original on August 9, 2017. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  34. ^ a b Roxborough, Scott (January 19, 2018). "James Ivory on His Film Legacy and Adapting 'Call Me by Your Name'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 19, 2018. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  35. ^ Brady, Tara (October 19, 2017). "'Why do people want to see other people's penises?'". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on October 22, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  36. ^ Blessing, Joe (January 24, 2017). "'Call Me By Your Name': Luca Guadagnino Discusses Avoiding Cliches, Costumes & Narration [NYFF]". The Playlist. Archived from the original on October 31, 2017. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  37. ^ Sharf, Jack (October 6, 2017). "'Call Me By Your Name' Screenwriter is Disappointed There's No Male Full Frontal Nudity". IndieWire. Archived from the original on October 18, 2017. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  38. ^ a b c Erbland, Kate (November 23, 2017). "'Call Me by Your Name' Screenwriter James Ivory Loves the Story Too Much to Think About Sequels". IndieWire. Archived from the original on November 23, 2017. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  39. ^ Nevins, Jake (March 5, 2018). "James Ivory is oldest Oscar winner ever with screenplay award for Call Me by Your Name". The Guardian. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  40. ^ "2018 BAFTA Awards backstage: James Ivory ('Call Me By Your Name') on his way to making Oscar history". Goldderby. February 18, 2018.
  41. ^ Anderson, Ariston (May 27, 2018). "James Ivory Joins Italian Drama 'Dance Again With Me Heywood!'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  42. ^ "A Cooler Climate". Film at Lincoln Center. Retrieved May 25, 2024.
  43. ^ "James Ivory Has Been Making Films for 70 Years. His Latest Might Be His Most Personal". GQ. November 3, 2022. Retrieved May 25, 2024.
  44. ^ Lang, Brent (May 18, 2023). "Christopher Manning Directing 'James Ivory: In Search of Love and Beauty,' Documentary About 'Howards End' Filmmaker (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved June 2, 2023.
  45. ^ Gilbey, Ryan (March 12, 2024). "I got you an Oscar. Why do I need to pay you?". The Guardian.
  46. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Howards End". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved August 14, 2009.
  47. ^ "'The Shape Of Water' Named Best Picture, Takes Four Awards At 23rd Annual Critics' Choice Awards" (Press release). Los Angeles, CA: Broadcast Film Critics Association/Broadcast Television Journalists Association. January 11, 2018. Archived from the original on January 9, 2018. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  48. ^ Robb, David (February 10, 2018). "'Call Me By Your Name' Wins USC Scripter Award For Adapted Screenplay; 'The Handmaid's Tale' Nabs TV Honor". Deadline. Retrieved February 10, 2018.
  49. ^ "Australian Academy announces winners for the 7th AACTA International Awards" (PDF) (Press release). Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. January 6, 2018. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  50. ^ Gettell, Oliver (January 9, 2018). "Call Me By Your Name takes top prize at 2017 Gotham Awards". BAFTA. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  51. ^ Gettell, Oliver (November 27, 2017). "Call Me By Your Name takes top prize at 2017 Gotham Awards". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  52. ^ Nevins, Jake (March 5, 2018). "James Ivory is oldest Oscar winner ever with screenplay award for Call Me by Your Name". The Guardian.