A documentary about Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus - two movie-obsessed cousins whose passion for cinema changed the way movies were made and marketed - and the tale of how this passion ultimately led to the demise of the company they built together.Written by
What do Louis B. Mayer, Michael Milken, and Bo Derek have in common?
...Answer: The Cannon Group! Started in Israel by Manahem Golan and his cousin, Yoram Globus, in the 1970s, with Golan being the more flamboyant creative force and Globus being more of the practical money man, they churned out schlock movies for about 14 years, about ten of those being in the United States for a global market. They were all about rushed scripts including Manahem making up scripts as he filmed, getting one or maybe two big names that maybe had seen better days to draw in audiences, lots of violence, bad special effects, and lots of sex and nudity. I always wondered where those trashy movies that Showtime would show late at night thirty years ago came from, and this documentary answered that question for me. The documentary moves at a rapid pace, with some of the stars that were in the films that have a good sense of humor about the whole thing such as Catherine Mary Stewart (The Apple) and Diane Franklin (The Last American Virgin) telling their stories.
Actually the documentary is a bit of a morality tale about the excesses of the 80's which pretty much overlays the time that the Cannon Group was based in the United States. Cannon Group was doing okay, even if they were making bad movies, until Michael Milken came along (remember, the guy who went to jail for what looks quaint compared to what the banksters did to tank the entire American economy 20 years later?) and managed to raise 300 million dollars for them. Accustomed to making films for just a few million dollars, sometimes less than a million, Cannon Group suddenly went on a spend and expand fest that ultimately brought them to bankruptcy. In the end they were filming and owned theater chains all over the world, and the colossal size of their failures brought them down almost exactly as the 90s began, after the cousins fought and split up and made competing films about the same dance - The Lambada - that opened the same day at the same theater in Los Angeles in 1990. Both films flopped.
Just the shear number of stories is astounding - how the cousins heading Cannon Group wound up making the Alan Quartermain movies with an actress they didn't even want because they confused Sharon Stone with "Romancing the Stone" - they actually wanted Kathleen Turner, how MGM, desperate for some product actually distributed Cannon's films for two years and, in the end, would rather sell out to Ted Turner than keep putting out such tripe, Bo Derek on the hilarious dialogue of "Bolero", and a pretty good director, Franco Zeffirelli, saying that he didn't know how to top himself after he made "Otello" for Cannon and how Manahem Golan was the only producer he'd ever met who truly understood the entire process of filmmaking and had absolutely nothing but praise for Cannon Group!
There have been many small film companies come and go, many from the Depression era in which everybody involved is dead, and their stories are probably are not nearly as interesting as this one. Watch this for the weirdness of it all and - if you are old enough - the nostalgia. One thing you can say about Cannon and the cousins that headed it - they had a willingness to take a risk that is entirely missing from filmmakers and especially their backers today. In fact, if character Max Bialystock from Mel Brooks' "The Producers" had been involved in film rather than the theater, and had been on the level and not an embezzler, he would have BEEN the colorful Manahem Golan, in my humble opinion. Highly recommended if you are interested in more recent film history.
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