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Jane Austen in Manhattan - The Merchant Ivory Collection

2.2 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Rival theater companies compete to produce their own unique versions of Jane Austen's childhood play, Sir Charles Grandison, in this delightful film from Merchant Ivory Productions. George Midash (Michael Wager) buys the play's manuscript at Sotheby's for Pierre (Robert Powell), the head of an avant-garde theater group. Another troupe, headed by the very traditional Lilianna Zorska (Anne Baxter), strives to produce their own version of the play. In her first film role, Sean Young co-stars as a young actress being manipulated by Pierre to join his company. When Lilianna decides to match wits with Pierre, events begin to mirror those occurring within the play itself. A brilliant ensemble cast, a witty screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, and an inventive score by Richard Robbins all contribute to make Jane Austen an elegant entertainment.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Anne Baxter, Robert Powell, Michael Wager, Tim Choate, John Guerrasio
  • Directors: James Ivory
  • Writers: James Ivory, Jane Austen, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Samuel Richardson
  • Producers: James Ivory, Connie Kaiserman, Ismail Merchant
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Dolby, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Merchant Ivory
  • DVD Release Date: September 21, 2004
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002KPHVA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,182 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Jane Austen in Manhattan - The Merchant Ivory Collection" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I'm a Jane Austen freak and devoted to Merchant Ivory movies. This one is early and quirky. It's about art and acting. It's about two quite different ways to bring Jane Austen to life in Manhattan: a traditional, aristocratic way, and an avant garde liberatory way. Watching the two ways interact on the screen (and almost merge at the end) while trying to follow the story of who abducted who and how she felt about it ties your mind in unexpected knots. I think one needs to have read not only Jane Austen's juvenilia, but also Richardson's now-impossible once-best-seller novel Sir Charles Grandison to understand all the allusions and satire. If you happen to have experienced the artistic circles in New York in the 60's and 70's - from the upper class patrons of experimental avant garde art to the struggling young would be actors - then you MAY enjoy the movie. Many people seem to have really disliked it. I loved it.
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Format: DVD
In Manhattan, two theatre companies, one avant-garde, one traditional, are putting on productions of the same long lost play by Jane Austen.
The actors, directors, angels, techies and hangers on of both groups all seem to know each other, and complications, romantic and otherwise,ensue. Also, at several
points, the plot of Austen's play becomes real and you see dramatic events unfolding in a wild landscape.
The storytelling here is rather a mess, and much of the acting, especially by the younger performers, is weak.
Anne Baxter delivers some of her lines in a wonderfully acid tone. Of the younger group, only Sean Young went on to have a major career. Although she is very beautiful here,
there is little indication of the skills, both comedic and serious she would reveal in later years.
Marginally a comedy, there are few laughs to be had.
If you love lower Manhattan, you will enjoy looking at this, but it is certainly the weakest film in the Merchant-Ivory catalog.
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Format: DVD
Merchant and Ivory have gone AWOL and left field! This movie is as independent a movie could ever look or feel. In this story two New York theater companies give a Jane Austen book the royal treatment with a classical interpretation and a wacky experiment.

James Ivory also gives this film a wacky treatment and continues to experiment with some crazy fun theater burst of energy. It explores this energy with young artists and Ivory films segments that are part of the real story but played out in an experimental style. It’s about having the nerve to have fun; like in the days of our youth.

Sometimes the acting is off with the minor roles and in other moments right on. There is no sentimentality or real character development we are just witnesses to the character’ egos, which is abundant. It seems to be a treatise on shallow actors who are self-absorbed and a criticism on bulls*** in certain circles of the New York theater scene. Is it absorbing? No! Is it an interesting, voyeuristic journey into the kind of people most of us don’t know and will never know? Yes! That alone gives it merit. Cinema can also be an introduction to various prisms of life and sometimes better than documentaries. In a documentary characters can lie about themselves, while being interviewed but in a film the filmmakers and actors who know about that kind of world can express it in all its glory and superficiality. The piece de resistance in the film is the music and in particular the opera written to stage the classical version of Jane Austen; fantastic!!

It’s hard to believe they are the duo that brought us anything on the screen like their previous films or the following films we were about to witness on the movie screen. They love cinema, they love actors and it shows!
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Format: DVD
This is the worst Jane Austen adaption, it was based on one of her unknown pieces from her childhood. A young woman is kidnapped by a man who wants to force her to marry him so he can gain control over her fortune. Her story made more sense than this one. Ex lovers and enemies try to get the rights to the play, the man wants to do an extremely modern version and it is horrible. They tried and failed to make a direct correlation between Jane's play and the director stealing another actor's girlfriend. The acting was bad too, the only good parts were the segments of Jane's actually play, but they didn't do the entire play and never showed how it ended and it was not enough to redeem this terrible film.
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Format: VHS Tape
The blurb about this movie made it seem like something I wanted to see, even buy. I rented it yesterday. Thank goodness I did not buy it! It is bizarre' to say the least, and lousy, to say the truth! My husband is a former film maker and even he found nothing good to say about the technique, script, lighting, acting, et al. The whole thing has almost nothing to do with Jane Austen-a lost piece of her work sold at auction to the leader of misguided would-be actors in New York under his spell. He passes himself off as some sort of avant-garde coach, when he is actually creating some kind of cult in which he alone reaps any benefits. He takes everyone's money, practically holds them prisioner, and puts on ridiculous scenes in the name of creating genius. Only Anne Baxter added anything positive to this film as an actress who wants to put on a real production of the Jane Austen works, but even she can not pull this stinker out of the loo. Save your money and your time.
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