A look back at the wild highs and schlocky lows of the Cannon Film company, which once taken over by Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yorum Globus, churned out dozens of cheesy, bad quality but beloved films a year.
Chances are, even if you haven’t heard of Cannon Films, you have seen at least one of their films; Barfly, Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Delta Force, Masters of the Universe and Supermans 4 and 5 were all released by Cannon films, and they were all various degrees of schlocky.
Filmmaker Mark Hartley gathers together those who worked with Menahem Golan and Yorum Globus, to recount their experiences of the enthusiastic but often misguided filmmakers. What emerges is a tale of great hope and enthusiasm, with little framework or skill to back it up. Hartley weaves together the stories of those who loved Cannon Films – such as Franco Zeffirelli – those who hated them – such as actress Laurene Landon – and those who were bemused and baffled by their ways of working. All of this is tied together through talking heads, archive footage and clips from Cannon movies to give the audience a greater understanding of the chaos that was Cannon Films.
Another theme that emerges throughout the film is that Menahem Golan and Yorum Globus seemed not only to be the victims of their own ambition, and their perception of The American Dream, but of prejudice. Perhaps it was not necessarily the filmmakers’ nationalities that caused such conflict, but perhaps it was fact that they churned out dozens of badly made, cheap exploitation movies a year that they were judged on.
Although Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is highly critical of the way that Cannon Films was run, it pokes fun at the studio in an almost loving way. So much so that when Laurene Landon sets fire to her only copy of the Cannon movie she worked on – America 3000, in case you’re interested – it seems unnecessarily mean spirited and cruel. There were problems with Cannon Films, they seemed to be completely out of touch with actors, filmmakers and audiences alike, and there were some crazy decisions made in the studio, but for the most part, this is looked back upon with love and a sense of humour. That said, former head of MGM, Frank Yablans, calls their collaboration with Cannon and embarrassment, and there is precious little mention of The Assault winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1986.
In all, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is a fun and engaging look back at the outlandish films that emerged from Cannon Films, the larger than life characters who ran the studio and the fact that this madhouse, of all places, was not only beloved by many, but changed the face of films forever.