This light-hearted romp through Royal India presents a world of Maharajas, palaces, imperiled art objects, and the foreign collectors who will stop at nothing to possess them. Peggy Ashcroft and Larry Pine star as two rapacious art collectors who come to the decaying Art Deco palace of a young Maharaja (Victor Banerjee) to examine a legendary collection of Indian miniature paintings. While vying with each other to get the pictures away from the royal couple—nicknamed Georgie and Bonnie as children by their Scottish governess—they must also divine the true motives of the Indian curator of the collection (Saeed Jaffrey), who, in league with the Maharaja’s beautiful sister (Aparna Sen), may be working against them. Amidst the backdrop of lavish tourist entertainments, Christmas parties, fireworks, and even an English ghost, a desperate game of palace intrigue will determine the ultimate resting place of the priceless paintings. —The Criterion Collection
Thanks to the content of his films, American director James Ivory has spent much of his long career being mistaken for an Englishman. Few filmmakers have been more closely associated with a particular type of genre than Ivory and his longtime collaborator, producer Ismail Merchant. The very mention of the hyphenate Merchant-Ivory effortlessly conjures up heavily stylized images of Edwardian England, replete with stiff upper lips, effete aristocrats, and young women confined by both corsets and repressed desire. However, although much of Ivory’s reputation has been built on his E.M. Forster-adapted period dramas, he has also earned considerable respect for the insightful examinations on the interplay of different cultures inherent in almost all of his work — particularly his earlier films about India — and his and Merchant’s ability to make quality films on a minimal budget.
Born in Berkeley, California, on June 7, 1928, Ivory grew up in Klamath Falls, Oregon, where his father… read more