As a child James Ivory became interested in cinema after seeing films such as Gunga Din and Gone With the Wind, becoming particularly fascinated by the elaborate sets, leading him to want to pursue a career as a set designer. After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in architecture, Ivory attended USC film school where he directed several short films including Four in the Morning (1953) and Venice: Theme and Variations (1957) which was named on The New York Times’ “best list of non-theatrical films.”
Ivory next directed the Indian culture documentary The Sword and the Flute (1959), which caught the attention of producer Ismail Merchant. The two teamed up and created their first film together, The Householder, in 1963. This led to a long, critically-acclaimed director-producer partnership through Merchant Ivory Productions that lasted until Merchant’s death in 2005. With Merchant producing, Ivory directed many critically and commercially successful films such as The Delhi Way (1964) The Guru (1969), Bombay Talkie (1970), Savages (1972), The Wild Party (1975), The Europeans (1979), Jane Austen in Manhattan (1980) and Quartet (1981), among others, before receiving his first Academy Award nomination for A Room with a View (1985).
Throughout his long directorial career, Ivory is known for helming period pieces set in 18th, 19th and 20th century Europe, featuring lavish sets. These films include Ivory’s back-to-back Oscar nominated projects, Howards End (1992) and The Remains of the Day (1993) in addition to Jefferson in Paris (1995), Surviving Picasso (1996), A Soldier’s Daughter Never Dies (1998), Le divorce (2003), The White Countess (2005) and The City of Your Final Destination (2009).
James Ivory has been a member of the Directors Guild of America for more than 35 years. In 1995, he was bestowed with the Guild’s highest honor, the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award. He received DGA Award nominations for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for A Room with a View (1986), Howards End (1992) and The Remains of the Day (1993). Ivory has also been nominated for three Academy Awards and three Golden Globes for those same films.