|Menahem Golan was born Menahem Globus to parents of Polish origin in Tiberias, Israel, May 1929. In his early years he was a pilot for the fledgling Israeli Air Force, changing his surname to Golan for patriotic reasons in 1948. A few years later he took the first step towards his future career by attending the Old Vic Theatre School in London. Upon returning to Israel he produced for theatre, until joining producer Roger Corman as an assistant on The Young Racers (1963). Golan's debut film in partnership with his younger cousin Yoram Globus, was El Dorado (1963). The two cousins set up 'Noah Films' to produce for the Israeli market. Golan's role was as producer and the creative partner, with Globus as the financial 'other half'. The company was first recognised overseas when their production Sallah Shabati (1964) won an Oscar nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film and then won the Golden Globe for the same category in 1965. However, the cousins were desperate to break into the international market. Some of their films had been picked up for distribution in America, such as Kazablan (1974) by MGM, but this was not enough.
In 1979, the pair bought control of a dwindling production company - Cannon Group, Inc. - from Denis Friedland and Christopher Dewey, and it was this company that gave them international renown. Under their control, the Cannon Group grew from a small company making a few unknown pictures a year to producing thirty-five pictures in 1987. They developed a large, independent and international empire, with production, distribution and exhibition interests across Europe. Golan and Globus hit their peak with Cannon in the mid-80s, signing Sylvester Stallone' for a record $13 million in 1983 for Over the Top (1987) and purchasing the UK's Thorn-Emi Screen Entertainment in 1986. This last deal led to their ownership of the ABC cinema circuit and Elstree Studios in Britain. Sadly, by 1987, the money was starting to run out. Many of their movies were not taking enough at the box office despite their wide cinema ownership, and they had taken on a lot of debt during their rapid growth, making more expensive pictures in the process. They were initially rescued by Warner Brothers who took distribution rights to Cannon's better films e.g. _Superman IV - The Quest for Peace (1987)_ , and also took an interest in some of their assets. The end of Cannon came in 1989, when virtually bankrupt, the company was bought by the now-disgraced financier Giancarlo Parretti and renamed Pathe Communications. (After the new MGM-Pathe collapsed in 1992, Globus produced pictures with Christopher Pearce, which were released under a reconstituted 'Cannon Pictures' label. The last of these was American Cyborg: Steel Warrior (1994), before the company folded for good).
Golan fell out with Parretti and Globus, leaving Pathe to start 21st Century Pictures. He produced a number of films that received widespread distribution, such as _Death Wish 5 - The Face of Death (1994)_ and Captain America (1991) but this company also failed in the mid-1990s. Golan's name was later linked with other new companies, such as International Dynamic Pictures, and Magic Entertainment, rejoining cousin Yoram for both. Again Golan and Globus fell out and went separate ways, with Golan writing and directing for other producers in the interim. Golan's latest company is New Cannon, Inc., and his recent works include _Crime and Punishment (2000)_ and Shiva MeHodu, Ha- (2002). Unfortunately for his fans, it now seems unlikely that Golan will recreate the success of his heyday. Menahem Golan has long been criticised (sometimes unfairly) for an emphasis on quantity rather than quality. A minority of the movies he has produced have been laughable or unwatchable. However, now out of the limelight of a critical industry, some of his company's once-derided films have achieved cult status, e.g. Mona Lisa (1986), and the 'Lemon Popsicle' series. Golan's ongoing drive, energy and past contribution to the cinema, will undoubtedly and belatedly be recognised for the achievement this represents.