'Howards End': James Ivory Period Drama Starring Emma Thompson One of Director's Cinematic Highlights

Howards End Anthony Hopkins Emma Thompson
Howards End with Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins.

Howards End, the best of the five Oscar nominees for best picture of 1992, will be the final film screened in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' “Great To Be Nominated” series. Howards End will screen on Monday, Aug. 20, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Oscar-nominated director James Ivory and associate producer Donald Rosenfeld will participate in an onstage discussion following the screening.

Based on E.M. Forster's novel, Howards End interweaves romance, class distinctions, family relationships, human kindness, and human nastiness – all with Ivory's trademark classiness and controlled passion. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's literate screenplay and Emma Thompson's superb (and multiple award-winning) performance – warm, honest, unaffected – helped turn Howards End into one of the most pleasurable film experiences of the 1990s.

Howards End also happened to be the next-to-last good film made by Ivory and his partner, Ismail Merchant. Following the equally classy and profound The Remains of the Day in 1993, the duo failed to make films that pleased either audiences or reviewers.

Howards End received a total of nine Academy Award nominations, taking home Oscars for Actress in a Leading Role (Emma Thompson as Margaret Schlegel), Art Direction (Luciana Arrighi; Set Decoration: Ian Whittaker) and Writing - Screenplay based on material previously produced or published (Ruth Prawer Jhabvala). The film also received nominations for Best Picture (Ismail Merchant, producer), Actress in a Supporting Role (Vanessa Redgrave, left, as Ruth Wilcox), Cinematography (Tony Pierce-Roberts), Costume Design (Jenny Beavan, John Bright), Directing (James Ivory) and Music - Original Score (Richard Robbins).

For the record, the Oscar winner that year was the grossly overrated Unforgiven, directed by U.S. critics' celluloid idol Clint Eastwood. (Sometimes I wonder if Unforgiven, Mystic River, and Million Dollar Baby had been directed by some unknown talent – especially if in a language other than English – if U.S. critics would have paid any attention to any of those films.) The other 1992 nominees made for an eclectic trio: The good (The Crying Game), the bad (Scent of a Woman), and the puny (A Few Good Men).

Sam Karmann's Oscar-winning live-action short Omnibus, about a commuter who has accidentally boarded an express train, and Paul Berry's Academy Award-nominated Gothic animated short The Sandman will be screened prior to the feature. (Berry is the man chiefly responsible for the look of The Nightmare Before Christmas, directed by Tim Burton.)

“Great To Be Nominated” will return in spring 2008 with its fifth installment, screening films that were honored between 1993 and 2007.

Tickets for Howards End are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Tickets may be purchased by mail, in person at the Academy during regular business hours or, depending on availability, on the night of the screening when the doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets also may be purchased online at www.oscars.org/events. There are no minimum order requirements and no transaction or processing fees. Tickets may be purchased online until noon PST on the day of the event.

Curtain time is 7:30 p.m., and pre-show elements will begin at 7 p.m. The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600.

Photos: © A.M.P.A.S.

James Ivory: 'Howards End' Academy screening

Aug. 28 update: Directed by James Ivory, the 1992 Best Picture Academy Award nominee Howards End concluded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' “Great to Be Nominated” movie series this year. The Howards End screening took place on Monday, August 20, 2007, at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. After the movie was shown, Ivory took part in an onstage discussion with Academy Director of Special Projects Randy Haberkamp.

Howards End stars Best Actress Oscar winner Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins, Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Vanessa Redgrave, James Wilby, Helena Bonham Carter, Samuel West, and Jemma Redgrave. Frequent James Ivory collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhabvala adapted E.M. Forster's novel. Another frequent Ivory collaborator, Ismail Merchant, who also happened to be the director's off-screen companion, produced the period drama.

James Ivory movies

Besides Howards End, other notable James Ivory movies include The Europeans (1979), based on a Henry James novel, and featuring Lee Remick, Tim Woodward, Wesley Addy, and Robin Ellis; Jane Austen in Manhattan (1980), with veteran Anne Baxter, Robert Powell, and Tim Choate; Quartet (1981), from Jean Rhy's novel, and starring Maggie Smith, Isabelle Adjani, Alan Bates, and Anthony Higgins; and Heat and Dust (1983), from a novel by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, and starring Julie Christie, Greta Scacchi, and Christopher Cazenove. Jhabvala adapted for the screen all of the aforementioned titles.

More notable James Ivory movies: The Bostonians (1984), another Henry James adaptation, starring Best Actress Oscar nominee Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Reeve, and Jessica Tandy; A Room with a View (1986), another E.M. Forster adaptation, featuring Helena Bonham Carter, Julian Sands, Denholm Elliott, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Rupert Graves; Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990), from books by Evan S. Connell, and starring Paul Newman and Best Actress Oscar nominee Joanne Woodward; and The Remains of the Day (1993), from a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, and starring Oscar nominees Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, in addition to Christopher Reeve and James Fox. Once again, those were all Ruth Prawer Jhabvala adaptations.

James Ivory photo: © A.M.P.A.S.

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