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. —IMDb
Best known as one half of the famed Nichols and May standup comedy team, Elaine May also carved out successful careers as an actress, writer, and director. Born April 21, 1932, in Philadelphia, PA, she was the daughter of Yiddish theatrical actor Jack Berlin and as a child occasionally performed with him on-stage. While still in her teens, she was married and divorced, giving birth in 1949 to daughter Jeannie Berlin. May later went on to study method acting under the tutelage of actress Maria Ouspenskaya before relocating to the Midwest to attend the University of Chicago; there she first encountered fellow student Mike Nichols, harshly criticizing his performance in a production of Miss Julie. They met again in 1955 when both joined the Compass Players improvisational ensemble, a group of Chicago-based satirical players which also included up-and-comers Alan Arkin and Shelley Berman.
After the Compass Players disbanded in 1957, Nichols and May continued on as a team; developing… read more
I'm baffled when Ishtar's failure is blamed on the script, structure or weak gags when it strikes me as a comedic masterpiece, very funny movie! It prefigures the brilliant political satire of Starship Troopers and the awkward social and body humor of something like Arrested Development! - maybe that's what made people so uneasy in 1987...
Other than how much it cost and bias against movie star egos involved, the only other theory I got as to why people didn't dig it back than is American's weren't ready for "cringe comedy' played straight until 2000s TV comedies made it more accepted. It's not perfect or May's best film but it's got a lot good things going for it.
Time for a quick break from the news coming out of Cannes. With the emphasis on quick, here's a bit on what's going on elsewhere. First
With Peter Biskind's new and largely unfortunate biography of Warren Beatty creating some re-evaluation of the star-producer-director-writer