Wednesday, May 25, 2005

R.I.P. Ismail Merchant

This tribute to Ismail Merchant just appeared at IMDb on the occasion of his death, at the age of 68. I'm a huge fan of Howards End (see also here, of Anthony Hopkins' and Peter Vaughan's performances in The Remains of the Day, of Richard Robbins' scores for lots of their movies (especially Remains), and of so many of the performances and stories they brought to the screen. And when she's on, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is a superlative scripter.

One quibble, and I hope this doesn't seem like too nasty a time to mention it: why hasn't the couplehood of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant ever been more openly acknowledged? I totally understand people, gay or straight, who don't want to discuss their sexuality or their relationships, but to not even have the fact on the table, when they are already fixed as a duo in the minds of their public? It's not as though Merchant-Ivory had some enormous, heterocentric fan-base that was going to erode if they came out, and at some point, I think it would have been nice to have this on record. I wonder if Merchant's obituaries will speak to this at all. Even the IMDb capsule alludes to their "career together (both personally and professionally)" in a remarkably oblique way. Ah well. Not to snack on the sour grapes, especially on a sad day. But my heart does goes out to James Ivory—now a widower, even if some PR people wish that I didn't think of him that way.

P.S. The AP report on Merchant's death, just up at the New York Times, concludes: "Merchant was unmarried and had no children." Jackasses.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leave it to Ebert to be the first person to address Merchant and Ivory's relationship, both personal and professional: "Mr. Merchant is survived by Mr. Ivory and by his sisters Saherbanu Kabadia, Sahida Retiwala, Ruksana Khan and Rashida Bootwala."

3:09 PM, May 28, 2005  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

Well, to give credit where it's due, that sentence comes almost straight from the longer NYTimes obituary (linked up in the Gwendolyn Brooks entry). Of course, the Times is probably cribbing it from one of the MI publicists. All Rog did was drop the info about where the sisters live. It's still classy of him to include it though...and classy in general, not just with regard to my own little beef, which I believe I have now officially blown out of proportion. :)

Thanks for the link, Mike.

3:32 PM, May 28, 2005  

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