Monday, September 26, 2005

Guilty Pleasure - Ishtar

Ishtar is one of my favorite films. I know it was univerally panned when it came out, but I think that was more because people had such high expectations based on cast than because of any huge flaw in the film. This is a comedy - a ridiculous comedy about two innocents (Lyle Rogers and Chuck Clarke) with good hearts but little talent. Because they are so naive - basically with very little ability to detect deceit or sarcasm, they act as if everyone is being straight with them. And so, we get the classic comedy set-up: these innocents get caught up in the most complicated intrigue.

But what's really funny here is the interaction between Hoffman and Beatty. The singing is wonderfully bad, but it's done so in a way that is endearing rather than grating. These two are completely sincere in their writing and singing. They have no clue that they can hardly carry a tune, and that their lyrics range from the overly obscure to the cliched. And it's in that lack of knowledge that the real gently humor of this film lies. Had Beatty and Hoffman played this for big yucks, the film would have been cruel and unfunny. Instead, they are mild-mannered and totally devoted to becoming famous musicians.

Of all of their songs, I think my favorite, because it is SO true, is "Dangerous Business:"

(lyrics and music by Paul Williams)

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'll hire you in a rock 'n' roll band.

But we can siiinnnngggggg - our hearts out (all night)
And if we're lucky, then no neighbors complain.
Nobody knows where the beginning part starts out (sing all right)
But being human we can live with the pain.

Because life is the way we audition for God;
Let us pray that we all get the job.

Cryin' out loud gets you pointed and laughed at
Be like a baby. Only babies should cry!
Somebody tell me how that rumor got started.
Some things I know that only God knows why.

But we can siiinnnngggggg - our hearts out (all night)
And if we're lucky, then no neighbors complain.
No body knows where the beginning part starts out (sing all right)
But being human we can live with the pain
Of course, you don't get the full impact of the song unless you have heard it. For the lyrics of all Rogers and Clarke songs, you can visit this web site: http://muller.lbl.gov/pages/Ishtar_lyrics.htm - some of them are barely noticeable in the film, so you really get a chance to enjoy even the fragments that are played. Hopefully one day they will release the soundtrack from this film. You'd be surprised at how many people want this.
I am fortunate that my dear friend, Marie Dawson, is not only a Pavarotti fan but also an Ishtar fan. Now, I have someone to sing Rogers and Clarke tunes to.

1 comments:

N8 said...

Hi Kelli,

A lot of us share your guilty pleasure!

I would like to make you aware that there is an Ishtar
fan site here, which has audio for your favorite Rogers and Clarke hits:

www.ishtarthemovie.com

And an Ishtar yahoo group (you're welcome to join)
here:

http://movies.groups.yahoo.com/group/ILoveIshtar/


Sincerely,

Nathan

"As one agent to another, I've heard the emir is a prick."

P.S. I don't have a blog account. I only signed up so I could post this message to you.