Jane Austen In Manhattan (1980)
Country: United Kingdom
Category: Feature Film
Genre: Drama, Romance
In this delightful 'romance' from Merchant Ivory Productions, past meets present and flamboyant egos collide as two Manhattan theatre companies compete to stage a literary gem: a lost play by one of Britain's best-loved authors.
Made in 1980 and starring Hollywood veteran and Oscar winner ANNE BAXTER (All About Eve), ROBERT POWELL (Jesus of Nazareth) and SEAN YOUNG (Blade Runner), JANE AUSTEN IN MANHATTAN intriguingly blends Jane Austen's charming 'playlet', tracing the seduction of an innocent girl by a devious rake, with the sexual mores of contemporary New York's theatre world. Two companies vie for the play's theatrical rights. One is lead by the traditionalist Lilianna Zorska, the other by her former protege and perhaps lover, the charismatic Pierre, a Svengali-like off-off-Broadway theatre guru. Complicating this situation is Ariadne, a beautiful young actress, whom Pierre is determined to seduce by way of various mind games. Modern-day events begin to mirror the play's themes of abduction and salvation as Lilianna strives to save Ariadne from Pierre's clutches, and to wrest the Jane Austen play from him for her own company.
Cast: Anne Baxter, Robert Powell, Michael Wager, Tim Choate, John Guerrasio, Katrina Hodiak, Kurt Johnson, Philip Lenkowsky, Charles McCaughan, Nancy New, Sean Young
Helen, Queen Of The Nautch Girls (1973)
Country: United States
Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls, a 30-minute documentary film that looks at an aspect of Indian culture from a rather whimsical angle, has always been a popular Merchant Ivory film. The idea for the documentary came from Anthony Korner, an associate of Merchant Ivory's in the period, and now the publisher of Art Forum. It was directed and narrated by him, but the scenario was devised by Ivory. The subject of the film, which cost a modest $17,000 to make, is the most popular dancer in Bombay musical films -- so much so that since 1957 she had appeared in five hundred of them. In part the movie is a montage of scenes from her pictures and of the opening sequence in Bombay Talkie in which Helen dances with Shashi Kapoor on the keys of a giant red typewriter. Indian musical films that provided the background of Bombay Talkie now come to life before the bemused viewer. Stepping neatly around the puritanic codes governing Indian films that forbid direct sexual contact (even kissing), the musicals project sexuality fervently through innuendo -- in teasing situations and the sensuality of Helen's dancing. Extravagantly romantic fantasies are the stuff of this popular art form, of which Helen is clearly "queen."