Teaming up with novelist E.M. Foster and screenplay writer Kit Hesketh-Harvey, James Ivory wrote and directed the charming film Maurice in 1987. The film follows the lives of Maurice Hall and Clive Gurham, two classmates at Cambridge. Clive develops an infatuation with Maurice and one day shares his feelings for his friend. Maurice is initially surprised, yet soon accepts that he too, shares those same feelings. Unfortunately, homosexual relationships are taboo in Edwardian England, making their prospective relationship very difficult. As a result, Clive insists that the two never act upon their feelings for one another.
As time passes, Maurice is still left longing. He soon meets Alec, a gamekeeper at Clive’s estate. Alec and Maurice share feelings for one another, however, both are still restrained by the opinions of present society.
Despite growing up in the shadow of Hollywood, James Ivory spent the vast majority of his filmmaking career outside of California. Ivory was born in Berkeley, Califorina, in 1928. He attended the University of Oregon School of Architectural and Allied Arts, and received his fine arts degree in 1951. Shortly thereafter, Ivory attended the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts to study cinematography and filmmaking. He earned his Master’s Degree in 1957.
Two years after leaving USC, Ivory met Ismail Merchant, an Indian-born producer and director, in New York in 1959. The two formed a partnership, in work and in love, which lasted until Merchant’s death in 2005. Merchant and Ivory together with writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala formed the production company Merchant Ivory Productions. The company garnered many awards throughout its history and earned international fame in later years when Ivory elected to pursue films based on works of fine English literature.
James Ivory’s work spans not only decades, but also miles. Early in their careers, Ivory and partner Ismail Merchant, created dozens of films based in or shot in India. Among these are well-known titles such as The Householder, The Guru, Savages (1973), Shakespeare Wallah, Autobiography of a Princess, Roseland, and The Wild Party, starring the lovely Raquel Welch.
Following a short stint in New York, Ivory and Merchant moved on to London to focus on creating films based on and adapted from British literary works. One of the first films in this body of work was 1985’s A Room With A View, which featured an all-star cast of future award winners such as Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Helena Bonham Carter. Ivory followed this film with 1987’s touching film, Maurice.
Forging longtime friendships with acting greats like Hugh Grant, Anthony Hopkins, and Vanessa Redgrave, Ivory directed many successful films up until the present day, including Howards End, The Remains of the Day, Surviving Picasso, Le Divorce, and The White Countess.