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JAMES IVORY IN CONVERSATION: How Merchant Ivory Makes Its Movies

James Ivory, Author, Robert Emmet Long, Author, Janet Maslin, Foreword by
James Ivory, Author, Robert Emmet Long, Author, Janet Maslin, Foreword by , foreword by Janet Maslin. Univ. of California $24.95 (337p) ISBN 978-0-520-23415-4
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Oscar nominee Ivory, one-third of the celebrated Merchant Ivory film team, discusses his approach to movies with Long (The Films of Merchant Ivory ), revealing his thoughts on his work, the machinations of studios and the mistakes he's made, including casting Raquel Welch in The Wild Party . Classy fare is a Merchant Ivory trademark, what Ivory dubs "sophisticated entertainment." The production team—director Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant and writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala—has created such classics as A Room with a View , Howard's End and The Remains of the Day . Long groups the team's films according to production location, such as India, England, America and France. Given this format, a filmography would be helpful in putting Ivory's career in context, since the book covers his work from college documentaries to 2003's Le Divorce ; alas, there is none. Long provides only two-line plot descriptions for each film; he's more interested in providing an appreciation of Ivory's triumph over difficulties (from ornery actors to scathing reviews) and an insightful interpretation of his movies. Structured as an informal chat between two friends, the book is quite readable, a solid resource for scholars of Merchant Ivory films as well as an in-depth study of Ivory's directorial sensibilities. 70 b&w photos. (Apr.)

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