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Quartet (1981)

1:00 | Trailer
Marya Zelli finds herself penniless after her art dealer husband, Stephan, is convicted of theft. Marya accepts the hospitality of a strange couple, H.J. and Lois Heidler, who lets her live in their house.


James Ivory


Jean Rhys (novel), Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Isabelle Adjani ... Marya Zelli
Suzanne Flon ... Mme. Hautchamp
Sébastien Floche Sébastien Floche ... Edouard Hautchamp (as Sebastien Floche)
Anthony Higgins ... Stephan Zelli
Maggie Smith ... Lois Heidler
Sheila Gish ... Anna
Daniel Chatto Daniel Chatto ... Guy
Paulita Sedgwick Paulita Sedgwick ... Esther
Alan Bates ... H.J. Heidler
Bernice Stegers ... Miss Nicholson
Isabelle Canto da Maya Isabelle Canto da Maya ... Cri-Cri (as Isabelle Canto Da Maya)
François Viaur François Viaur ... Lefranc
Wiley Wood Wiley Wood ... Cairn
Dino Zanghi Dino Zanghi ... Prison Guard
Michel Such Michel Such ... Prison Guard


It's 1927 Paris. Following the conviction of her art dealer husband, Stephan Zelli (Anthony Higgins), for theft for which he was handed a one-year prison sentence, Marya Zelli (Isabelle Adjani), originally from West India, moves in with her acquaintances, expatriate Brits H.J. (Sir Alan Bates) and Lois Heidler (Dame Maggie Smith). Marya knows that H.J. in particular has more in mind than just providing her lodging out of the goodness of his heart. From behind bars, Stephan encourages Marya to move in with them, not knowing H.J.'s intentions. Marya agrees in part because she, being a foreigner, cannot get work and would thus become destitute otherwise. She learns she is the latest in a long line of lodgers. She also learns that H.J. and Lois' marriage is not all that it appears on the surface. The Heidler's hold on Marya becomes stronger when they convince her that Stephan not only has no money, but has no future in France after his release. Their collective lives become more ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Author Jean Rhys wrote her story based on her true-life experience with the writer Ford Madox Ford and his wife. See more »


Pierre Schlamovitz: Nowadays, people live in a dirty way. There's no tradition. There's nothing beautiful.
See more »

Alternate Versions

French dubbed version with French credit roll for French Release version. See more »


Full Time Lover
Arranged by Luther Henderson
Written by Richard Robbins (uncredited)
Performed by Armelia McQueen (uncredited)
See more »

User Reviews

Astonishing sense of place, time and trouble.
4 March 2003 | by ewcSee all my reviews

Few screenwriters have ever jumped the gap that Jhabvala traversed between THE EUROPEANS (1979) and QUARTET (1981). I know of no other film that captures as well the sense of European pre-WW2 'decadence' (compare CABARET for an object lesson in failure!), or that is directed and photographed with stronger integration of the settings, colours, sounds and behavior within the story being told. A remarkable achievement - the film that put filmmakers on notice about how well the remarkable Jhabvala/Ivory/Merchant trio present stories locked into their space and time.

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Official Sites:

Merchant Ivory Productions


UK | France


English | French

Release Date:

25 October 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Quartet See more »

Filming Locations:

France See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,150, 5 May 2019

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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