Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I love Ishtar

(For years, the only web site that praised Ishtar was something I wrote back last century. That site is now long gone, but for history's sake, I show some of it below. For more information, see the very thorough Ishtar movie web page or the WIKIPEDIA entry).

Ishtar is the world's most under-rated movie.

Two terrible lounge singers get booked to play the Ishtar Hilton. Somehow they become pawns in an international power play between the CIA, the Emir of Ishtar, and the rebels trying to overthrow his regime.

This movie contains the most gawd-awful songs ever written. You have to be very very good to write stuff that is so very very bad:

    Telling the truth can be dangerous business
    Honest and popular don't go hand in hand
    If you admit that you can play the accordion
    No one will hire you in a rock and roll band

    CHORUS (everybody now)
    But we can SING our hearts out, (all night)
    And if we're lucky then no neighbours complain
    Nobody knows how the beginning part starts out,
    But being human we can live with the pain

    Because life is the way we audition for God
    And we pray that we all get the job

    Crying out loud gets you pointed and laughed out
    Be like a baby, only babies should cry
    Somebody tell me how that rumour got started
    Something I know only god knows why

    But we can SING our hearts out
The movie is usually hated by critics but it has many die hard fans. For example:

Martin Nohe (Woodbridge, VA):

    A truly under-rated film.

    I have never understood the seemingly universal disapproval of this fine film. Is it "Reds"?...No. Is it "Rain Man"?...No. Was it intended to be?...Of course not.

    Ishtar is a comedy of the first measure. Start with two struggling musicians trying to make it big, who find themselves trapped in a circle of espionage and intrigue in a far away land. Include some of the funniest text ever written for the big screen. Add two of the greatest actors of our day, Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty, (both of whom are playing characters that could not be farther from the traditional roles that these actors have played, which was, I'm sure, a challenge in and of itself) and throw in a blind camel for good measure, and you have the recipe for a cinema classic. If this film had managed to avoid the negative press that it received early on, it would have gone done in history as one of the great comedies of the 1980's. Now, everyone wants to be on the "I hate Ishtar" bandwagon. It is truly unfortunate that this film has not received the credit that it deserves.

    "Ishtar" is not the most under-rated film ever, but it may be close.

Bob Helbig (Patton, PA):
    To: timm@cse.unsw.edu.au
    Subject: Ishtar
    Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 12:53:22 +1100 (EST)

    Dear Tim,

    I wholeheartedly agree with you! I love this movie! I just can't get enough of it. I wish more people could enjoy it as we do. It's really great to find someone else who feels the same.

    Tim, do you know who could sell me the soundtrack?

    Wouldn't it be great to have an Ishtar Convention? The entire cast could be invited, memorabilia could be displayed and sold, people could speak, and we could have a screening. Who knows, Dustin and Warren might just show up for a laugh!

    Anyway, enough. If you do, indeed, have an Ishtar fan-club, I want to join.
Scott Johnson (Kent, Oh):
    To: timm@cse.unsw.edu.au
    Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 18:45:10 EST
    Subject: Ishtar

    I like this movie also. I think that people miss the point of this movie. They don't understand how funny bad songs really can be. It is not comic genius but it is not as bad as some portray it.
And, of course, there's me !!:
    I was flying back from Bali with the worse case of Bali belly I've ever heard off. As I tried not to think about toilets, the film started: ISHTAR!! The rest of the plane went to sleep and I was left alone watching this legendarily bad film.

    I was captivated. Amused. Tickled. And I didn't have to break once for a rest stop.

    When it was over, dawn was breaking over the wing and I was uplifted to a new sense of calm and solid poos. I was so content. Ishtar had taken me away from the mundane and the runny to a new plane (:-)) of existence. And such god-awful songs. Truly, you must be very good to write stuff so awful.


Anonymous said...

I remember this site in the late 90s. It was back in your "down under" days...I remember your numerous sites (all things Menzies being one; all things Tim being another).

How wonderful to have stumbled across one of your sites again, and to see you are now stateside.

Best to you, Dr. Menzies.

-John Menzies (the former-Nebraska resident, not the UK corporation)

A Typical Matt Love said...

You are a pioneer. And it was interesting to learn that Bob had the idea for an Ishtar gathering 10 years ago. Maybe the 20th anniversary year will see it happening. There is a lot of Ishtar related things happening. Subscribe to our list (ILoveIshtar-Subscribe@yahoogroups.com) to learn about them, and to join the fun

Jef Leeson said...

Tim, have you heard:


A great companion piece to Ishtar