Retro: The Unquiet American


Elaine May
United States 1987
107 min

Treated as a debacle upon release, partially as payback for producer-star Warren Beatty’s high-handed treatment of the press, this Elaine May comedy was the most underappreciated commercial movie of 1987. It isn’t quite as good as May’s previous features, but it’s still a very funny work by one of this country’s greatest comic talents. Beatty and Dustin Hoffman, both cast against type, play inept songwriters who score a club date in North Africa and accidentally get caught up in various international intrigues. Misleadingly pegged as an imitation <![CDATA[<i>]]>Road to Morocco<![CDATA[</i>]]>, the film is better read as a light comic variation on May’s ­masterpiece <![CDATA[<i>]]>Mikey and Nicky<![CDATA[</i>]]> as well as a prescient send-up of blundering American idiocy in the Middle East. Among the highlights: Charles Grodin’s impersonation of a CIA operative, a blind camel, Isabelle Adjani, Jack Weston, Vittorio Storaro’s cinemato­graphy, and a delightful series of deliberately awful songs, most of them by Paul Williams.

<![CDATA[<i>]]>(Chicago Reader)<![CDATA[</i>]]>

  • Warren Beatty - Lyle Rogers
  • Dustin Hoffman - Chuck Clarke
  • Isabelle Adjani - Shirra Assel
  • Charles Grodin - Jim Harrison
  • Jack Weston - Marty Freed
  • Tess Harper - Willa
  • Aharon Ipalé - Emir Yousef
  • Carol Kane - Carol
  • Elaine May
  • Vittorio Storaro
  • Richard P. Cirincione
  • William Reynolds
  • Stephen A. Rotter
  • Dave Grusin
  • Paul Sylbert
  • Anthony Powell
Columbia Pictures, Delphi V Productions
Park Circus Ltd.
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