Ismail Merchant died yesterday at 68

Ismail Merchant, whose filmmaking collaboration with James Ivory created a genre of films with visually sumptuous settings that told literate tales of individuals trying to adapt to shifting &to=http:// ' target=_blank>societal values, died yesterday in a London hospital. He was 68.

Mr. Merchant`s New York office said that the cause was undetermined, but that he had had surgery for abdominal ulcers on Tuesday, tells the New York Times.

According to the Times Online, a frank, freewheeling man who was endowed with energy, charm and prodigious chutzpah, Merchant was the "producer wallah" of the celebrated cinematic duo he formed with James Ivory, the American film director. The two are listed in the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Guinness Book of World Records as having had the longest creative partnership in film history, much of it spent also in the company of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the German-born writer who composed almost all their screenplays.

Merchant, who had the knack of getting famous actors to work for him for "peanuts" (to use his own gleeful description) was the business mind behind Merchant Ivory Productions, a company he formed with Ivory in 1961.

The film-maker, who jetted between homes and production offices in Mumbai, London and New York, had become synonymous with a high quality, nostalgic form of period drama that produced classic literary adaptations such as A Room with a View, Howard’s End, Remains of the Day and The Golden Bowl.

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