Two terrible lounge singers get booked to play a gig in a Moroccan hotel but somehow become pawns in an international power play between the CIA, the Emir of Ishtar, and the rebels trying to overthrow his regime.
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Two terrible lounge singers get booked to play a gig in a Moroccan hotel but somehow become pawns in an international power play between the CIA, the Emir of Ishtar, and the rebels trying to overthrow his regime. Written by
The idea for this film came about because Warren Beatty felt indebted to Elaine May who wrote the screenplay for his hit movie Heaven Can Wait (1978), and she also did an uncredited screenplay write on his Oscar-winning Reds (1981). Beatty wanted to give May a chance to make a film that she was artistically and commercially capable of making and offered to produce and be the lead actor in it. May presented the idea to Beatty about a Hope-Crosby Road to... type picture, and wanted to get another co-star, possibly Dustin Hoffman to sign on. Hoffman originally turned the movie down because of "misgivings", but eventually changed his mind after meeting with Beatty and his friend and confidant Murray Schisgaal. Hoffman, like Beatty was also indebted to May, as she did an uncredited writing job for his hit film Tootsie (1982). See more »
By the chandelier when Jim talks to the Emir. See more »
Are these breasts?
[thinking he's dealing with a male robber in his hotel room]
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This is actually a brilliant comedy that utilizes the subtle jab to the funny bone rather than the thundering blow. Unfortunately, this type of humor died out sometime in the middle of the television show NEWHART's run. Why? Read The Wasteland! I don't know! Ishtar works in the same vein as Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges. No, the jokes do not come out and slap you in the face... You have to look for them to find them. Needless to say, do not rent this if you want a cathartic, mindless jolt. However, do not slam this movie just because it isn't slaptick or screwball. (Which are the only kind of comedies made anymore!) Elaine May comes from the comedy team of Nichols and May (Yes, Mike Nichols! [In fact one could argue that the comedy in The Graduate is bad for the same reasons as the comedy in Ishtar is supposedly bad.]). This duo practically perfected the witty, acerbic brand of humor which is now completely missed and misunderstood but was used masterfully in this film. In the age of Saturday Night Live and Ace Ventura, a comedy of this sort most assuredly would bomb and continue bombing. Nevertheless, if you are sick and tired of being force-fed ridiculously bad, hackneyed comedy then I suggest renting Ishtar (then buying some Nichols and May albums and watching the Bob Newhart reruns on Nick at Nite). Oh... Carter was President when I was born by the way... This is not nostalgia!
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