2018/05/13

Palatable: Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014)
Written and directed by Mark Hartley
Produced by James Packer, Brett Ratner, Veronica Fury, Mark Hartley, Nate Bolotin, Todd Brown, Jeff Harrison, Hugh Marks
Starring Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus, Boaz Davidson, Alex Winter, Gary Goddard, Avi Lerner, Sybil Danning, Tobe Hooper, Catherine Mary Stewart, Alain Jakubowicz, John Thompson, Rusty Lemorande, Frank Yablans, Tom Luddy, Chuck Norris, Charles Matthau, Albert Pyun, James Bruner, Sam Firstenberg, Michael Winner, Richard Chamberlain, Daniel Loewenthal, Michael Dudikoff, Lucinda Dickey, Mark Goldblatt, Adolfo Quinones, Michael Chambers, Barbet Schroeder, Diane Franklin, Charles Bronson, Mark Rosenthal, Robin Sherwood, Marina Sirtis, John G. Avildsen, Dan Wolman, Michael Hartman, Elliott Gould, Bo Derek, Pieter Jan Brugge, Luigi Cozzi, Christopher Pearce, Stephen Tolkin, Dolph Lundgren, Quentin Falk, Franco Zeffirelli, Richard Kraft, Cynthia Hargrave, Sheldon Lettich, Michael Armstrong, Just Jaeckin, Roni Ya'ackov, Olivia d'Abo, Mark Helfrich, Molly Ringwald, Franco Nero, Yftach Katzur, Greydon Clark, Edward R. Pressman, Malcolm J. Christopher, Danny Dimbort, Itzik Kol, Harrison Ellenshaw, John Frankenheimer, David Paulsen, David Womark, Martine Beswick, Pete Walker, Lance Hool, Gary Nelson, Christopher C. Dewey, John Cassavetes, John Grover, David Engelbach, Roy Langsdon, William Stout, John Platt, Sheldon Renan, Allen DeBevoise, Al Ruban, Alan Roderick-Jones, Oliver Tobias, Laurene Landon, Gideon Porath, Jerry Schatzberg
A rapid embarrassment of footage from the Cannon catalog and scores of interviews form this arresting, alacritous account of the famously fearless, tasteless, brash, brainish cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, chronicling their chaotic character and career from penurious origins to a dizzying, schlocky summit of cinematic production to a downfall proceeding from routine overextension, arrearage and incompetence. An industriously crafted string of low-budget hits resulted in the domination of their native Israel's filmic industry and first few tacky international hits; their acquisition of exploitative B-studio Cannon as a North American beachhead capacitated an initial mass-production of racy horrors, glitzy pet projects and softcore pornography marketed as bodice rippers antedating a diverse glut of goofy genre pictures proposed to please both international and American audiences; from an aggressive, incessant generation of cartoonishly violent original flicks and sequels to theretofore respectable properties, outstanding profits were parlayed to purchase the British Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment, Dutch Tuschinski Theatres, American Commonwealth Theaters, and to unstintingly sponsor struggling, accomplished auteurs (Cassavetes, Zeffirelli, Godard, Altman, Frankenheimer, Konchalovsky) and cult figures of lesser repute (Schroeder, Schepsi, Schatzberg, Mailer, Harvey) whose preferred projects weren't likely to materialize without such largesse. Another generous investment by junk bond lord Michael Milken enabled Cannon's annual rate of feature production to exceed by magnitudes of three to nine times those of Hollywood's majors as the firm devoured theatrical chains before soaring debt and condign flops sank their largely chintzy yet pioneering substantive endeavor. Anecdotic narration by the performers (Winter, Danning, Stewart, Chamberlain, Dudikoff, Dickey, Quinones, Chambers, Franklin, Sirtis, Gould, Derek, Lundgren, d'Abo, Ringwald, Sherwood, Nero, Katzur, Beswick, Tobias, Landon), directors (Davidson, Goddard, Hooper, Lemorande, Pyun, Schroeder, Avildsen, Zeffirelli, Clark, Firstenberg, Wolman, Cozzi, Jaeckin, Walker, Nelson, Schatzberg) and journeymen (Jakubowicz, Bruner, Loewenthal, Goldblatt, Rosenthal, Tolkin, Kraft, Armstrong, Helfrich, Ellenshaw, Paulsen, Grover, Engelbach, Langsdon, Stout, Platt, Renan, Ruban, Roderick-Jones, Porath) once employed by the cousins Globus and their associated producers (Lerner, Thompson, Luddy, Hartman, Brugge, Pearce, Ya'ackov, Pressman, Christopher, Dimbort, Kol, Womark, Hool, Dewey, DeBevoise) characterizes them as exhaustively as their uncommon, effective emporeutic strategies, and frequently catastrophic approach to their medium. A perfect pair for purveyance of lowbrow fare, the adolescent aesthetics and dauntless drive of moviemaker Menahem meshed well with the financial knack of relatively reserved Yoram, a remarkably artful businessman unique for an M.O. whereby unproduced pictures were financed by sales to foreign distributors on the strength of promotional materials. Their ambitions far outstripped their art, and from miserly budgetary practices, atrocious quality control and silly sensibilities arose a half-dozen frustrated blockbusters (Lifeforce, Masters of the Universe, Superman IV) that might've proven as proportionally profitable as hits produced for far less, as Delta Force, Invasion U.S.A., Breakin', Missing in Action, the hysterically flamboyant sequels to Death Wish and Rocky, etc. For the sheer sweep of their collaborations, Hartley's history of the indefatigable Go-Go Boys is a treat for cinephiles of any palate; whatever one's taste, they're likely to spy someone whose work they appreciate. Still chafing from his own association with the overbearing Israelis, quondam MGM head Yablans derisively contrasts Golan-Globus with the Weinstein brothers, but in retrospect, history's likely to favor the former duo. Cannon boasts for its brief foray into art over twice as many great films by great filmmakers than Miramax, and their bloody, hokey, gawky appeals to both Israeli and American nationalism are far more enjoyable than the ostentatious, overproduced agitprop plied by the Weinsteins before Harvey's weakness for sexual harassment and the occasional rape doomed their own professional prospects. Despite their abounding artistic and commercial failures, Golan-Globus and their legacy denote the fullest potential of independent filmmaking, and most garish actualization of the American dream.

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