Come take the ultimate comedic Rorschach test with the deadpan brilliance of Elaine May’s Ishtar, when two down-and-all-but-out musicians, Lyle Rogers (Beatty) and Chuck Clarke (Hoffman), are galvanized by their love of music, and misery loves company co-dependency. With nothing to lose, and not a whole lot to gain, Lyle and Chuck form the musical duo Rogers & Clarke (“We’re not singers, we’re songwriters”), and accept a gig as the lounge act at a hotel in Marrakesh, Morocco. Upon their arrival, the musical duos lack of talent is only eclipsed by their lack of self-awareness, as they are separately recruited, and become unknowing pawns in the political unrest fueled by leftist guerrillas, the Emir of Ishtar, and the CIA’s Jim Harrison (played with precise comedic subterfuge by Charles Grodin). Isabelle Adjani is a revelation as Shirra, the woman who causes both men to lose their way in the desert, but only a blind camel would not enjoy Beatty and Hoffman performing a dreadful cover of Little Darlin’ (wa-wa-wa-wa!), or the so-bad-they’re-good lyrics of the film’s original music, written by Elaine May and 70’s icon Paul Williams, in this Hope and Crosby inspired road movie.
“Ishtar is frequently very funny, and nearly always original.” – Noel Murray, The Dissolve
“This is pure Elaine May – astute, fine-tuned neurotic humor” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times
Marc Edward Heuck discusses director Elaine May on the New Beverly blog.
Garret Mathany discusses Ishtar on the New Beverly blog.
View a set of Spanish lobby cards for Ishtar on the New Beverly forum.