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Cannon Films
October 11, 2011 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Under the stewardship of Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, Cannon Films was responsible for many of the worst - and a few of the best - movies of the 1980s. Along the way it won an Academy Award and enriched the language. (previously)

Certainly our moviegoing lives would have been poorer without Cobra, Death Wish 3, and Lifeforce.
posted by Trurl (43 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ninja III: The Domination used to show endlessly on cable back in the mid-to-late '80s, and I'm pretty sure I watched every airing. Once, a friend and I decided to watch it simultaneously, each at our own homes, and call each other every time something laughable occurred. Needless to say, the phones never stopped ringing.
posted by Dr. Wu at 8:55 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I had forgotten how good Runaway Train was and how bad Speed was. Thanks!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:00 AM on October 11, 2011


Menahem and Golem were also responsible for a movie even worse than Ninja III: The Apple. It is a tale about the dystopian future (1994) and is just amazing in its badness.
posted by ignignokt at 9:03 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Once, a friend and I decided to watch it simultaneously, each at our own homes, and call each other every time something laughable occurred.

I love my DVR about as much as one can feel towards an inanimate object, but stories like this make me long for a bygone age.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:08 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay - is there a one, single, comprehensive list of everything Cannon did? Or even a couple lists (exclusive releases and co-releases) somewhere on their site? I'm trying to find it and am failing. Even the optomistically-named "Cannon A-Z on IMDB" seems only to take you to a randomly-selected single film from their ouevre.

Would like to see a comprehensive list.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:08 AM on October 11, 2011


Another unforgetable Cannon gem!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:09 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's the Wikipedia rundown, Empress.
posted by Iridic at 9:12 AM on October 11, 2011


Thanks, iridic.

....That's even more mind-blowing -- because in the middle of all these other things like Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo and Walker, Texas Ranger, they also had the distribution rights to Powaqqatsi.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:18 AM on October 11, 2011


You, you take that back! Masters of the Universe, starring Dolph Lundgren and Frank Langella is... is...

Not even as good as Battle Beyond the Stars, which is saying something.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:18 AM on October 11, 2011


When we we're talking about lurid kid-scarring moments in PG-rated movies last week, I neglected to mention this scene from Cannon's Sword of the Valiant:

"Come...to me...my body!"
posted by Iridic at 9:22 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


because in the middle of all these other things like Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo and Walker, Texas Ranger, they also had the distribution rights to Powaqqatsi.

---

Film critic Roger Ebert said of Golan-Globus in 1987, "no other production organization in the world today—certainly not any of the seven Hollywood "majors"—has taken more chances with serious, marginal films than Cannon."
posted by Trurl at 9:26 AM on October 11, 2011


"Come...to me...my body!"

His head is knocked a good 20 feet from his neck, yet there's like two pitiful little smears of blood two inches from the the bottom. It's like the prop guys were trying to be sure not to forget the gore while at the same time leaving out the gore.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:30 AM on October 11, 2011


Do not forget, Alien From L.A., subject of a memorable MST3K episode.
posted by JHarris at 9:33 AM on October 11, 2011


Delta Force!
posted by chavenet at 9:35 AM on October 11, 2011


From the AV Club's interview with Margot Kidder:

"[Menahem Golan's] outrageous! He is really outrageous. I did a version, a very bad version, of Crime And Punishment that he directed in Russia, with Vanessa Redgrave and John Neville and John Hurt and Crispin Glover. Now, he was not a good director, but again, you had this humongous personality. [Laughs.] Just this humongous, humongous personality, who took it upon himself to rewrite Dostoyevsky, and got very flustered whenever Crispin Glover would point out that the script was betraying the book. At one point, I remember he screamed my favorite line in movie history, when we were arguing about a scene. I had this great death, initially, where I died in great sobbing heaps on a bridge, and I go mad and die of tuberculosis, blood spurting out of my mouth and lungs. Every actor’s dream. And we got there, and there was some demonstration and then a counter-demonstration by the communists that day, and it was really exciting coming to Russia. And I’ve always loved Russia, and Russian history. So I was kind of, again, having a really good time. But I remember getting to the set, and Menahem said, “I’ve cut the death. We can’t do it anymore, because the communists are demonstrating,” or something. And so Crispin said “Cut the death? You can’t cut the death, it says right here in the book—” and he brings out this dog-eared copy of Crime And Punishment and Menahem says “This book, I’m sick of hearing about this book. I wrote the script!”
posted by Iridic at 9:35 AM on October 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


There's so much to discuss here, but I'll say that one of the co-founders of Cannon directed one of my favorite movies, The Apple. WARNING: I do not expect it to be anyone else's favorite movie.

Somewhere in there, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus had a falling out and started making and producing movies with similar themes and plots to 'get at' each other, leading to a hilarious set of films.

From here came a throw-away line that I have loved for years: "Menahem Golan, King of the crap movie and the bounced check."
posted by jscott at 9:41 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I rather liked the Invaders from Mars remake they did.
posted by Samizdata at 9:56 AM on October 11, 2011


Do not forget, Alien From L.A., subject of a memorable MST3K episode.

Yuck!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:57 AM on October 11, 2011


Also, IIRC, they were the first to pay an actor $20 million.

But you can't argue with the results.
posted by Trurl at 10:00 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


From Iridic's link to wikipedia's list of Canon films: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

Now it makes a lot more sense...
posted by mikelieman at 10:02 AM on October 11, 2011


From Iridic's link to wikipedia's list of Canon films: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

I'd much rather think of that as a Cannon film than any sort of canon.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:08 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey martial arts fans, are you ready to get your guts kicked out? (only the audio is relevant)

Invasion U.S.A. is a fantastic crappy movie. Chuck Norris riding around on an airboat, making somber pronouncements to local media aimed at the villainous Soviet-Aryan terrorist. "One night you'll close your eyes, and when they open I'll be there. It'll be time to die."
posted by infinitewindow at 10:17 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ah, Captain America (1990) when superhero movies were low-budget bad rather than forcing me to spend two hours thinking about how the idiots wasted the GDP of some African nation.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:35 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just to further highlight Cannon's amazing blend of art and schlock, I'll point out that the Film Society of Lincoln Center recently put on a retrospective of some of Cannon Films' artier productions. Along with Barfly and Runaway Train, mentioned earlier, the series also included Jean-Luc Godard's King Lear, Raul Ruiz's Treasure Island, Norman Mailer's Tough Guys Don't Dance, and John Cassavetes' Love Streams.
posted by Awkward Philip at 10:37 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Runaway Trains is bloody terrific, and I wish you hadn't linked that amazing ending, in case there are people here who haven't had the experience of it in the context of the entire film.
posted by Decani at 10:46 AM on October 11, 2011


TRAIN. Singular. Gah!
posted by Decani at 10:47 AM on October 11, 2011


Lincoln Center did a screening of "The Apple" last year, with an appearance and pre-show talk by Menahem Golan. And free beer. It was one of the most amazing nights of my life.
posted by JoanArkham at 10:56 AM on October 11, 2011


Tough Guys Don't Dance is itself an amazing blend of art and shlock.

I saw Norman Mailer in the streets of Manhattan shortly after it opened. He looked grumpy. Which, given the reviews, was quite understandable.
posted by Trurl at 11:00 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


But you can't argue with the results.

Man, what were they thinking paying Rick Zumwalt $20 million to be in their film?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:02 AM on October 11, 2011


Jharris - Alien from LA showed at last weekend's Sci-Fi London MST3K marathon, and the mere announcement of Golan Globus apparently got a big round of applause.
posted by Wylla at 11:13 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm as big a fan of horrible B-movies as anyone, but let's not forget Cannon Films' constant anti-Arab propaganda. This was a general trend in the 80s, but Cannon was the production company that took it to extremes.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:28 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've seen Death Wish 3 probably 2000 times. If it passes on TV again, I'm watching it again. That movie is absolutely hilarious. And let's not forget the missing gem: Killing Hipsters.

And I saw Operation Thunderbolt twenty years ago, but I actually remember it as being a quite good movie, and not in a "so bad it's good" sense. I just read in Wikipedia that it was nominated as a best foreign language film, so maybe it really wasn't bad.
posted by falameufilho at 12:00 PM on October 11, 2011


The Masters of the Universe film isn't the worst, by a long shot. Frank Langella is pretty awesome in it... and it's got Billy Barty in it, which is the hallmark of quality right there.
posted by Catblack at 12:00 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyone else notice how incredibly slowly shot trailers were back then? None of today's fast cut, flash pop camera work. A different time.
posted by Duug at 1:10 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


sorry slowly cut trailers.. if you get what I mean.
posted by Duug at 1:11 PM on October 11, 2011


JHarris: "Do not forget, Alien From L.A., subject of a memorable MST3K episode."

Dull surprise!

Outlaw (of Gor) was another G-G MST3K ep. "Oh, jeez. She's trying to sleep her way to the bottom."
posted by Chrysostom at 1:15 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not enough Sho Kosugi love, Enter The Ninja was a masterpiece.
posted by Sphinx at 1:27 PM on October 11, 2011


And in the 80s they owned many of Britain's cinemas. Which is how most of their film got distribution at all.

I notice from the list (to my surprise, actually, although Cannon are listed as distributors rather than the production studio), they have some responsibility for Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves and what I remember to be an extraordinary (though very, very long at six hours, as it's actually two films) version of Little Dorrit, directed by Christine Edzard.
posted by Grangousier at 3:17 PM on October 11, 2011


Not enough Sho Kosugi love, Enter The Ninja was a masterpiece.

I haven't seen that yet, but the IMDB synopsis starts with "After just completing his training at a ninja school..." which...compels me.
posted by ignignokt at 3:29 PM on October 11, 2011


52 Pick-Up is an underrated classic of the based on Elmore Leonard film genre. The staff of the video lab I used to work at in those days often quoted John Glover's deleriously sleazy lines of dialogue in that distinctive nasal tone of voice.
posted by ovvl at 5:55 PM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cannon always held a particular interest to me as a young kid because they owned the tiny highstreet cinema just around the corner from my house. All my formative movie experiences happened in that little fleapit, all preceded by that metallic sci-fi indent. And then from the video shop down the block I must have rented out 90% of the studio's titles. It's amazing to consider how much of my childhood imagination was shaped by this one venture, and I'm tremendously thankful for all their output. And this post!


"Our only crime is that we love cinema. You don't see us at the Polo Lounge, on the tennis court or at parties. You see us at the office seven days a week.'' Indeed, their desire to make movies and love of the cinema set Golan and Globus apart from other B-movie kings.

...

Director Tobe Hooper ... said recently in an interview with The A.V. Club, "Cannon was really a good company to work for, actually. They made hundreds of movies. They did not have that many hit films, but both Yoram and Menahem just loved movies. They loved films and loved the filmmakers and really treated them well. It seemed more, when I was there, like maybe what the old system was like. I miss it. I miss that kind of showmanship and chance-taking."

posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 7:59 PM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]



You, you take that back! Masters of the Universe, starring Dolph Lundgren and Frank Langella is... is...


the best Fourth World movie ever made?

according to TV Tropes or something
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:25 PM on October 11, 2011


I finally watched Cobra the other night on TV after years of wanting to see it (that video cover really sold it for me back in the day). I was really surprised at how good it was, possibly one of Stallone's best IMHO. (Of course it helped having Andrew Robinson in it, too.)
posted by macdara at 9:34 AM on October 15, 2011


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