Trivia / Ishtar

  • Actor Allusion: Chuck's somewhat jealous comments about Simon & Garfunkel are funnier since they're being delivered by the star of The Graduate.
  • Box Office Bomb: Famously so. Its budget was $55 million, it only scraped up $14,375,181.
  • Creator Killer: The failure of Ishtar killed Elaine May's directing career, though she's still done well as a writer for such films as The Birdcage and Primary Colors, both directed by her former comedy partner Mike Nichols.
  • The Danza: Carol Kane as Carol.
  • Development Hell / Keep Circulating the Tapes: The closing credits mention a soundtrack album on Capitol Records, but it never got released, except for two songs issued as a 45 rpm single. This website has mp3's of most of the songs.
  • Dueling Movies: With Spies Like Us.
  • Dueling-Stars Movie
  • Executive Meddling: The production costs are substantially higher than they should have been, due to this. In addition to the location costs, Beatty and May had a conflict during the shoot over the way May was directing the film, and Columbia executive Fay Vincent insisted that each scene be shot twice according to how both saw each scene.
  • Fake Nationality: Obviously not applicable since Ishtar isn't a real country, but Isabelle Adjani (Shirra) and Aharon Ipalé (The Emir) both had North African connections despite being citizens of other countries. Adjani is French but her father was Algerian, while Ipalé was Israeli but actually born in Morocco.
  • Playing Against Type: Hoffman is known for playing nerdy outcasts, and Beatty is known for playing good looking womanizers. Here, Beatty plays a shy dope who's terrible with women, and Hoffman plays the womanizing character. Many fans of the movie see this as an intentional joke, and part of the film's humor style, but May claims that it wasn't a joke, and that the actors are not playing against type because Beatty really is from the South and Hoffman really is from New York.
  • She Also Did: Besides directing and writing, Elaine May also penned lyrics for several of the songs.
  • Troubled Production: See The Other Wiki for details, including the famous story about how May up and decided to have a square mile of desert bulldozed flat because she didn't like the dunes.
  • Working Title: Blind Camel
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