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With films like "Howard's End" and "Remains of the Day," producer Ismail Merchant, director James Ivory and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala kept alive what used to be one of Hollywood's more agreeable genres: the handsomely made, well-acted literary-historical drama. But their latest effort, "Jefferson in Paris," falls short because "everyone was a little too much in tasteful awe of Jefferson," says TIME critic Richard Schickel. He says Nick Nolte plays the lead "rather stolidly," while the filmmakers fail to give full dramatic life to the issues that stirred Jefferson while he was the first U.S. ambassador to France.