Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films
by Sherif Awad
One of the important
sections at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) is
Signals: Regained which explores
cinema’s treasure trove, screens restored classics, inexplicably forgotten
masterpieces and films and documentaries that centre on cinema itself. In that
section, the fun and fast-paced documentary
Electric
Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films
, directed by Mark Hartley
and produced by Brett Ratner, retells the story of Menahem Golan, the
Israeli-born producer who came to Hollywood along with his cousin Yoram Globus
in 1979 only to take over the failing production company The Cannon Group Inc
from its founders Dennis Friedland and Christopher C. Dewey. Initially, Cannon
was mostly specialized in American and European-imported soft porns, but under
Golan-Globus control, Cannon grew from a small company making a few obscure
pictures a year to a studio that produced 35 pictures in 1987 alone varying
between Romance, action and comedies.
 
The documentary shows us how Golan grew up not only as a film
buff but as a man obsessed with moviemaking. He, and we are quoting one of Boogaloo’s interviewees, was capable of
putting his own wife and kids on mortgage in order to wrap a film production.
As for Globus, he was the wiser, businessman kind of guy who decelerated some
of Golan’s decision. And the combination of Golan-Globus were exactly the right
one to have lawns from American banks in order their films made. Golan had also
this crazy approach of getting money: he used to create teaser posters of
still-unmade films then publicize them across US trade magazines in order to
get some cash on the table beforehand.
The documentary is highlighted by its dynamic videobytes and
interviews with Golan-Globus former collaborators: editors, directors, and
actors like Richard Chamberlain who starred in two Cannon’s B-movies playing
Allan Quatermain with a then-unknown blond newcomer called Sharon Stone, like
Catherine Mary Stewart who made her debut in The Apple (1980) that is dubbed as the “mount everest of bad
musicals”, like Bo Derek who starred in Cannon’s produced Bolero in which she was most of the time clothless. The era of
erotica films produced by Golan-Globus also included two Sylvia Kristel’s
starrer Lady Chatterley’s Lover
(1981) and Mata Hari (1985), The Last American Virgin (1982) which
was a remake of Lemon Popsicle
(1978), an Israeli teen sexy comedy produced by Golan in his homeland before
coming to Hollywood; The Wicked Lady (1983),
a costume drama that starred Faye Dunaway.

Sylvia Kristel in Mata Hari

The duo of Golan-Globus moved to another phase: producing
action films: Death Wish sequels that
revived Charles Bronson’s career, Missing
in Action
Trilogy, The Delta Force
and Invasion U.S.A
. with Chuck Norris. They also launched the career of
Michael Dudikoff through American Ninja
and Jean-Claude Van-Damme through Cyborg.
They are lot of fun stuff about this action films that the viewer should
discover by the watching the documentary so I will not ruin many
behind-the-scenes secrets. I will only mention that Missing in Action 2 was released before the first one because they
thought it was a better film. Golan also paid Sylvester Stallone from ten to
twenty million to star in Over the Top,
a film I personally have a good memory about since I still have its poster in
my bedroom since I saw in 1987. Its soundtrack had a very nice song by Kenny
Loggins called Meet Me Halfway.
Later, Stallone starred in Cobra produced
by Cannon and distributed by Warner Bros. Cannon were also responsible to cast
Italian star Franco Nero as blue-eyed ninja in Enter the Ninja (1981). To the latter, they even made two sequels:
the third was called Ninja III: The
Domination
and it was described as a cross between Enter the Dragon, The
Exorcist
and Flashdance!
Believe it or not, after making these super commercial films
in addition to strange musicals like Breakin’,
Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo,
Golan-Globus went to produce arthouse films of top internationally renowned
directors like John Cassavetes’ Love
Streams
, Franco Zeffirelli’s Otello (a
film version of the Verdi opera), Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance, Andrei Konchalovsky’s Runaway Train with Jon Voight who got an Oscar nomination for his
role.
Following
Golan’s departure from Cannon Films, he became the head of
21st Century
Film Corporation
.
Golan continued to produce and direct films until his passing on August 8, 2014
in Tel Aviv. Globus is now the president of Globus Max, which has interests in
film production and distribution and runs a 140-screen cinema chain in Israel.
Last May, another Israeli documentary called The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films was also shown
during Cannes Film Film Festival.

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Sherif M. Awad
Sherif M. Awad
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