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Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

8/10

Stars: Featuring: Michael Armstrong, John G Avildsen, Martine Beswick, Peter Jan Brugge, Richard Chamberlain, Michael Chambers, Malcolm J Christopher, Greydon Clark, Luigi Cozzi, Olivia d’Abo, Boaz Davidson, Sybil Danning, David Del Valle, Bo Derek, Christopher C Dewey, Lucinda Dickey, Danny Dimbort, Michael Dudikoff, Richard Edlund, Harrison Ellenshaw, David Engelbach, Quentin Falk, Sam Firstenberg, Robert Forster, Diane Franklin, Gary Goddard, Mark Goldblatt, Elliott Gould, John Grover, Cynthia Hargrave, Michael Hartman, Mark Helfrich, Lance Hool, Tobe Hooper, Just Jaeckin, Alain Jakubowicz, Yiftack Katzur, Sharon Khan, Richard Kraft, Laurene Landon, Roy Langsdon, Rusty Lemorande, Avi Lerner, Sheldon Lettich, Tom Luddy, Dolph Lundgren, Charles Matthau, Rick Nathanson, Gary Nelson, Franco Nero, Ted Newsom, David Paulsen, Christopher Pearce, Cassandra Peterson, John Platt, Gideon Porath, Edward R Pressman, Albert Pyun, Adolfo Quinones, Sheldon Renan, Molly Ringwald, Todd Roberts, Alan Roderick-Jones, Mark Rosenthal, Al Ruban, Jerry Schatzberg, Barbet Schroeder, Robin Sherwood, Marina Sirtis, William Stout, Catherine Mary Stuart, John Thompson, Oliver Tobias, Stephen Tolkin, Pete Walker, Alex Winter, Dan Wolman, David Womark, Frank Yablans, Rony Yacov, Franco Zeffirelli

Director: Mark Hartley

Neil Gabler’s invaluable 1988 reference book “An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood” charted the influence of the Jews who came to dominate Tinsel Town, notably in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

Serious cineastes will doubtless reach for the smelling salts at the prospect of seeing a film about Golan and Globus, the men behind such cinema classics as The Last American Virgin, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hype, Hospital Massacre and Death Wish 3.

IÂ’d recommend dumping smelling salts and simply siting back to enjoy writer/director Mark HartleyÂ’s fascinating documentary about the Israeli cousins' Hollywood output. It runs a mere 105 minutes. IÂ’d have been happy to watch it at twice the length,

They may not be auteurs, as we know them, but they made their mark before being shot down by changing distributor and audience tastes.

In fact, while I like Hartley’s title, his documentary could have been titled: “Another Empire of their Own. How the Jews reinvented Hollywood”.

Menahem Golan, in particular, was as creative a salesman as was needed to sell the sex-and-schlock-and-action movies that made the name of Cannon common currency and earned them the money to make bigger budget movies, make a star of Chuck Norris and employ starrier Hollywood names, among them Charles Bronson, Sean Connery, Sylvester Stallone and Faye Dunaway, to propel their bigger movies.

A generous collection of clips adorns the film, which the gallery of famed, forgotten and “who the hell is that?” talking heads amplify with reminiscences that keep you watching.

And, for UK audiences, thereÂ’s the added entertainment provided by Michael Winner, seen in supremely self-confident form while commenting on the brilliance of his contribution to Cannons 'Death Wish' oeuvre.

Other familiar Hollywoodites addressing the camera with differing (and not always positive) reactions towards Golan and Globus (despite presumably having agreed to make Cannon Films for money) include Elliott Gould, Robert Forster, Dolph Lundgren Sybil Danning, Richard Chamberlain and Tobe Hooper, while British audiences are patriotically entertained with to-camera contributions from Martine Beswick, Michael Armstrong and one-time film critic Quentin Falk.

While it’s certainly true that Cannon fired fusillades of crass cinema at filmgoers, they also funded art movies by Jean-Luc Godard, John Cassavetes and Franco Zeffirelli who, having made Otello for Golan and Globus, calls them “The best producers I ever worked with”.

Hearing so great an auteur saying that could well ensure the administration of smelling salts.

Alan Frank

Australia/USA/Israel/UK 2015. UK Distributor: Metrodome. Colour.
106 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 04 Jun 2015