Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

PhotoNYTPenny salutes Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

From the obituary by Anita Gates in yesterday’s New York Times:

“Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the German-born screenwriter and novelist who, as the writing member of the Merchant Ivory filmmaking team, won two Academy Awards for adaptations of genteel, class-conscious E. M. Forster novels, died on Wednesday at her home in Manhattan. She was 85.”

Ruth Prawer, a Jewish woman born in Germany in 1927, escaped to London with her family in 1939, then movied to Delhi after marrying Cyrus Jhabvala (an Indian architect) in 1951. Her years of trauma, dislocation, & exile turned out to be ideal background for her career as a novelist & screenwriter. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is credited with 26 screenplays on IMDb, two of which (A Room with a View & Howards End) received Oscars.

This may not sound remarkable in itself, but, in fact, it is: In 84 years, only 17 women have received Oscars for their screenplays, & only 2 of these 17 women—Ruth Prawer Jhabvala & Frances Marion—have won multiple times.

So kudos to Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, a woman who not only surivived but thrived, creating wonderful films (mostly as part of the Merchant-Ivory team), & leaving us many terrific women characters to remember her by forever. In her long career, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala worked with most of the world’s greatest English-speaking actresses. Here are just a few of my own personal favorites:

A Room with a View (with Helena Bonham Carter as “Lucy Honeychurch”)

The Bostonians (with Vanessa Redgrave as “Olive Chancellor”)

Heat and Dust (with Julie Christie as “Anne” & Greta Scacchi as “Olivia”)

Howards End (with Emma Thompson as “Margaret Schlegel”)

Madame Sousatzka (with Shirley MacLaine as “Yuvline Sousatzka”)

Mr. & Mrs. Bridge (with Joanne Woodward as “India Bridge”)

The Remains of the Day (with Emma Thompson as “Miss Kenton”)

BRAVA for a life well lived!

PS: Click here to download my Oscar Watch chart for 2013 –> 2013OscarChartJLH


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