Olive Chancellor (Vanessa Redgrave), a Back Bay Boston spinster and leader of the women’s suffrage movement, becomes enamored of Verena Tarrant (Madeleine Potter), an inspirational young speaker, and adopts Verena as her protegée, her friend, and her companion. When Olive’s distant relation, the chauvenist Southern lawyer Basil Ransom (Christopher Reeve) falls in love with Verena and wishes to marry her — to relegate the young woman to the kitchen and the nursery — Olive and Ransom find themselves competing for Verena’s affections. The charismatic Miss Tarrant must then choose whether to get herself to the nunnery of Olive’s social cause or submit to the sensual but subservient life promised by Ransom. —Merchant Ivory Productions
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