James Ivory's Story About His Own Relationship Makes CMBYN Even More Poignant

At 89, screenwriter James Ivory is the oldest Oscar winner, which means he's old enough to remember a time when Call Me By Your Name might not have been a pick for Best Picture. Ivory wrote the screenplay for Luca Guadagnino's film and collected an Oscar for it, which he did while wearing a Timothée Chalamet shirt. Ivory has himself a romantic narrative — he and his partner Ismail Merchant were in a relationship from the 1960s until 2005, when Merchant passed away. But, as per a recent interview with The Guardian, Merchant and Ivory kept their relationship from the press. Because they were producing partners — their production company is called Merchant Ivory productions — they appeared together in public often. They never addressed their romantic relationship, though.
"You have to remember that Ismail was an Indian citizen living in Bombay, with a deeply conservative Muslim family there," Ivory explained. "It’s not the sort of thing he was going to broadcast. Since we were so close and lived most of our lives together, I wasn’t about to undermine him."
In May of last year, the New Yorker chronicled their relationship in a piece titled "James Ivory and the Making of a Historic Gay Love Story."
"He was my life’s partner," Ivory told the New Yorker. "From the beginning right on down to his final day. I lived openly with him for forty-five years, in New York and wherever else we were." Together, they produced such classics as A Room with a View (1985) and Maurice (1987). Maurice was, like CMBYN, a historic gay love story that earned an Oscar nomination for costume design. Maurice debuted 40 years before Call Me By Your Name, decades before American audiences would be okay with peach sex. It was revolutionary and, most adorably, written by two men madly in love with one another.
"So many people have come up to me since Maurice and pulled me aside and said, ‘I just want you to know you changed my life,'" Ivory added. Now, he'll have the population citing another movie — one where peaches are definitely involved.

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