Movie mogul James Ivory partly blames the German investors in his new movie THE WHITE COUNTESS for the death of his longtime partner Ismail Merchant.

The producer/director is convinced that had the film-making process been less stressful, his friend would still be alive today.

Ivory claims his Merchant Ivory partner was prone to ulcers when his stress levels peaked - and that's ultimately what killed him.

He says, "The German investors just wouldn't sign the papers and give the money for the film. Eventually, and strangely, they gave the money without even signing the papers.

"It was a horrible strain on Ismail, that's for sure and then he broke his ankle.

"Then he had a bleeding ulcer, which he'd suffered from before. He had one on the set of LE DIVORCE and he had one on JEFFERSON IN PARIS. On both those occasions we'd be in Paris and the French doctors had this way with that and he got well right away.

"In England the doctors didn't have a way with ulcers, or it was worse than they suspected, or in a very bad place to get at. No one really knows what happened."