The Europeans (1979)

91 mins | Drama | 1979

Director:

James Ivory

Producer:

Ismail Merchant

Cinematographer:

Larry Pizer

Editor:

Humphrey Dixon

Production Designer:

Jeremiah Rusconi

Production Company:

Merchant Ivory Productions
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HISTORY

       According to a 30 Sep 1979 NYT feature article, director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant originally planned to adapt the 1878 novel by Henry James for American public television and petitioned the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for funding. After their application was denied, the filmmakers reintroduced the project as a feature film and approached several Hollywood studios, but were turned down because the script was regarded as too arcane, with little commercial potential. Financing was eventually secured through Britain’s National Film Finance Corporation (NFFC), supplemented by money from the German entertainment company, Polytel, and private investors. As part of the arrangement, NFFC required that seventy percent of the cast and crew be British citizens.
       During development, actresses Glenda Jackson and Vanessa Redgrave were considered for the cast.
       Principal photography began 2 Oct 1978 and completed in thirty-four days. A 15 Nov 1978 Var article stated that location filming took place entirely in New England. Although James’s novel specified summer and spring, production delays necessitated changing the setting to autumn, which the filmmakers realized would work to their advantage due to the colorful fall foliage. The film was made for approximately $30,000 less than the proposed $1 million budget.
       According to a 25 Apr 1979 Var article, the film became entangled in controversy when it was selected as the official British entry for the 1979 Cannes Film Festival. The British Film Producers Association (BFPA) protested that The Europeans was “far removed culturally from anything British,” but festival organizers refused to reconsider despite appeals by the ... More Less

       According to a 30 Sep 1979 NYT feature article, director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant originally planned to adapt the 1878 novel by Henry James for American public television and petitioned the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for funding. After their application was denied, the filmmakers reintroduced the project as a feature film and approached several Hollywood studios, but were turned down because the script was regarded as too arcane, with little commercial potential. Financing was eventually secured through Britain’s National Film Finance Corporation (NFFC), supplemented by money from the German entertainment company, Polytel, and private investors. As part of the arrangement, NFFC required that seventy percent of the cast and crew be British citizens.
       During development, actresses Glenda Jackson and Vanessa Redgrave were considered for the cast.
       Principal photography began 2 Oct 1978 and completed in thirty-four days. A 15 Nov 1978 Var article stated that location filming took place entirely in New England. Although James’s novel specified summer and spring, production delays necessitated changing the setting to autumn, which the filmmakers realized would work to their advantage due to the colorful fall foliage. The film was made for approximately $30,000 less than the proposed $1 million budget.
       According to a 25 Apr 1979 Var article, the film became entangled in controversy when it was selected as the official British entry for the 1979 Cannes Film Festival. The British Film Producers Association (BFPA) protested that The Europeans was “far removed culturally from anything British,” but festival organizers refused to reconsider despite appeals by the BFPA. A 13 Apr 1979 DV article mentioned that The Europeans represented the fourteenth Merchant-Ivory collaboration and the first one to be placed in competition at Cannes.
       The initial U.S. showing took place at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, CA, on 23 Sep 1979, as announced in a 26 Sep 1979 Var brief, followed by a screening at the New York Film Festival on 2 Oct 1979, according to the 30 Sep 1979 NYT article.
       In a 26 Dec 1979 Var article, Merchant stated that the film would recoup production expenses, based on earnings from the Paris, France, and London, England, engagements alone. After twenty-five weeks, grosses in London were $475,000. In late Dec 1979, the film was scheduled for release in fifteen additional U.S. cities after initial engagements in New York City, Boston, MA, and San Francisco, CA, with box-office grosses totaling $377,000.
       The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. The National Board of Review recognized the picture as one of the top ten films of 1979.
      End credits include the following acknowledgements: "Special thanks to the: United States National Parks Service; Smithsonian Institute; Merrimac Valley Textile Museum; Richard Ginori, New York; Firestone and Parson, Boston; Appleton Manor Farms; The Sowles Foundation and Aquila Farm." End credits conclude with the written statement: "Filmed at the Barrett and Bullard-Barr Houses in New Ipswich New Hampshire, and the Lyman House in Waltham Massachusetts all owned by the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities; and at the Gardner-Pingree House in Salem Massachusetts owned by The Essex Institute."
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 Apr 1979
p. 1, 39.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 1979
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1979
p. 54.
New York Times
30 Sep 1979
Section D, p. 1, 17.
New York Times
2 Oct 1979
p. 8.
Variety
15 Nov 1978.
---
Variety
25 Apr 1979
p. 3, 40.
Variety
16 May 1979
p. 27, 35.
Variety
26 Sep 1979.
---
Variety
26 Dec 1979
p. 4, 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Merchant Ivory Productions Presents
A Merchant Ivory Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Prod mgr
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Gaffer
Focus
Clapper
Best boy
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Title art
Title art
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward master
Cost asst
MUSIC
Mus arr and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Processing
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Cont
Casting
Loc unit mgr
Prod accountant
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Europeans by Henry James (London, 1878).
AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Trio, Opus 17," Clara Schumann
"Deutsche Tanz, Opus 33, No. 7," Schubert
"Schomberg Galop," G. W. E. Friedrich
+
MUSIC
"Trio, Opus 17," Clara Schumann
"Deutsche Tanz, Opus 33, No. 7," Schubert
"Schomberg Galop," G. W. E. Friedrich
"Waltz from La Traviata," Verdi
"Old Folks Quadrilles and French Quadrilles," Stephen Foster
"Simple Gifts," Trad. Shaker Hymn
"Beautiful River," Robert Lowery.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
1979
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 2 October 1979
Los Angeles opening: 21 December 1979
Production Date:
2 October--early November 1978
Copyright Claimant:
National Film Trustee Company, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
1 October 1979
Copyright Number:
PA47284
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Panavision®
Prints
Rank Laboratories
Duration(in mins):
91
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the mid-nineteeth century, Felix Young, a bohemian artist, and his sister, Baroness Eugenia Munster, travel from Europe to visit the Wentworths, their prosperous American relatives, who live in a quiet New England village on the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts. Eugenia’s husband, a German prince, wants to dissolve their marriage, so Eugenia has come to America with a hidden agenda, to find another rich spouse. Felix and Eugenia’s puritanical uncle, Mr. William Wentworth, permits the siblings to stay in an adjacent house on the property, but is suspicious of their intentions and warns his two daughters, Gertrude and Charlotte, to be wary of foreign influence. However, Gertrude, who is more open-minded than her pious sister, admits that her exotic cousins already intrigue her. One day at the guest house, Felix paints Gertrude’s portrait, and the two cousins begin to realize their attraction to each other. Meanwhile, Eugenia cultivates the attention of Robert Acton, a wealthy unmarried businessman, who is related to the Wentworths. During an outing in Acton’s horse and carriage, Eugenia feigns modesty and claims that she came to New England seeking “natural” relationships, unlike the “artificial” ones in Europe. Later, at a party, Eugenia explains to Robert that her marriage, which occurred when she was very naïve, will be void as soon as she signs a divorce document and mails it to the prince. She asks Robert if he urges her to sign, but they are interrupted before he can answer. Elsewhere at the party, Felix and Gertrude continue to flirt. When Felix notices that Charlotte is attentive to Mr. Brand, a Unitarian minister, Gertrude sadly reveals ... +


In the mid-nineteeth century, Felix Young, a bohemian artist, and his sister, Baroness Eugenia Munster, travel from Europe to visit the Wentworths, their prosperous American relatives, who live in a quiet New England village on the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts. Eugenia’s husband, a German prince, wants to dissolve their marriage, so Eugenia has come to America with a hidden agenda, to find another rich spouse. Felix and Eugenia’s puritanical uncle, Mr. William Wentworth, permits the siblings to stay in an adjacent house on the property, but is suspicious of their intentions and warns his two daughters, Gertrude and Charlotte, to be wary of foreign influence. However, Gertrude, who is more open-minded than her pious sister, admits that her exotic cousins already intrigue her. One day at the guest house, Felix paints Gertrude’s portrait, and the two cousins begin to realize their attraction to each other. Meanwhile, Eugenia cultivates the attention of Robert Acton, a wealthy unmarried businessman, who is related to the Wentworths. During an outing in Acton’s horse and carriage, Eugenia feigns modesty and claims that she came to New England seeking “natural” relationships, unlike the “artificial” ones in Europe. Later, at a party, Eugenia explains to Robert that her marriage, which occurred when she was very naïve, will be void as soon as she signs a divorce document and mails it to the prince. She asks Robert if he urges her to sign, but they are interrupted before he can answer. Elsewhere at the party, Felix and Gertrude continue to flirt. When Felix notices that Charlotte is attentive to Mr. Brand, a Unitarian minister, Gertrude sadly reveals that the family expects her, not Charlotte, to marry Mr. Brand. However, Gertrude is adamantly opposed to the arrangement. She agrees with Felix that they should try and maneuver Charlotte and Mr. Brand toward a union. Feeling like an outsider, Eugenia leaves the party, but not wanting to dissuade Robert, she declares that she will soon make a decision about the divorce. Later at the guest house, Felix suggests to his sister that she should encourage the attentions of Clifford, Mr. Wentworth’s college-age son, stating that the young heir will one day be the primary gentleman of the village. Eugenia is curious if Clifford could be a possible alternative to Mr. Acton. Meanwhile, as the sisters prepare for bed, Gertrude observes that Charlotte is clearly in love with Mr. Brand, but Charlotte is afraid to admit her true feelings. Later, Gertrude admits to Mr. Brand that she prefers the amusement of Felix, and points out that her devout sister is a better choice for him. While Robert is away from the village, Eugenia entertains Clifford at the guest house and in a flirtatious manner, attempts to gain his trust. Later in the evening, Eugenia is still trying to charm Clifford, without success, when she sees Robert approaching. She orders Clifford to hide in another room. As she and Robert visit in the parlor, he offers to take Eugenia to Niagara Falls, New York. Eugenia wants to know if the trip is the extent of his proposal, and Robert answers by asking Eugenia if she signed the document. Suddenly, Clifford barges into the room, and Eugenia quickly explains that Clifford came to see Felix’s sketches. After Clifford leaves, Eugenia tries to make Robert jealous by stating that Clifford was not there to view sketches, but has been attempting to woo her with romantic midnight visits. The next day, Robert speaks with Clifford and learns that the young man has no interest in the baroness. Consequently, Robert begins to have doubts about the crafty Eugenia and gives his younger sister, Lizzie, a glass ornament that he intended to present as a gift to Eugenia. Meanwhile, Felix tells his sister that he wants to marry Gertrude, who has been promised to Mr. Brand. Eugenia appears envious of her brother’s true affection. Boasting, she claims that Robert desires to marry her, but she cannot decide. Later, Felix asks to speak with Mr. Brand on a personal matter and reveals that Charlotte is in love with the clergyman. Next, Felix impatiently approaches Mr. Wentworth and asks for consent to marry Gertrude. Felix admits that he has no fortune, but as a travelling portrait artist, he can provide Gertrude with a comfortable life. With a change of heart, Mr. Brand arrives and recommends that Mr. Wentworth agree to the union. Although reluctant, Wentworth gives Felix permission. Meanwhile, Eugenia stops by Robert’s house to say goodbye before returning to Europe. Robert appears disappointed and asks her again if she signed the document. When she replies yes, he encourages her to stay, declaring that she is “admired” here. However, Eugenia does not think being admired is a good enough reason to stay and walks away. Later, as he rides his horse through the village alone, Robert observes three happy couples: Mr. Brand and Charlotte; Clifford and Lizzie; and Felix and Gertrude. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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