Menahem Golan (Hebrew: מנחם גולן; May 31, 1929 – August 8, 2014) was an Israeli director and producer. He produced movies for such stars as Sean Connery, Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Charles Bronson, and was known for a period as a producer of comic book-style movies like Masters of the Universe, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Captain America, and his aborted attempt to bring Spider-Man to the silver screen. Using the pen name of Joseph Goldman, Golan also wrote and "polished" film scripts. He was co-owner of Golan-Globus with his cousin Yoram Globus. Golan produced about 200 films, directed 44, won 8 times the Violin David Awards and The Israel Prize in Cinema.
Menahem Golan was born on May 31, 1929, in Tiberias, then Mandate Palestine. He studied directing at the Old Vic School and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and filmmaking at New York University. During the Israeli War of Independence he served as a pilot in the Israeli Air Force.
Directing and film career
Golan started out as an apprentice at Habima Theater in Tel Aviv. After completing his studies in theater direction, he staged plays in Israel. He gained experience as a filmmaker by working as an assistant to Roger Corman.
As a director, Golan is probably most known for his film Operation Thunderbolt (Mivtsa Yonatan, 1977), about the Israeli raid on Entebbe airport in Uganda. He also produced the film Eskimo Limon (Lemon Popsicle, 1978), spawning many sequels and an American remake named The Last American Virgin.
In 1979, he did an adaptation of an Isaac Bashevis Singer novel entitled The Magician of Lublin. Golan was responsible for the musical The Apple (1980), an unusual moral fable with a rock-disco soundtrack which appears on a number of lists of all-time-worst movies, but has developed a following as a cult film.
Golan's production company, The Cannon Group, produced a long line of films during the 1980s and early 1990s, such as Delta Force, Runaway Train, and some of the Death Wish sequels. In 1986, Cannon was taken over by Pathe Communications. Golan produced several comic book-style movies in the latter half of the 1980s, perhaps most notably Masters of the Universe, based on the toys of the same name and inspired by the comics work of Jack Kirby. In 1987, Cannon gained infamy after their U.K.-based production of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace failed in theaters and provoked a negative backlash from fans. In 1989 Golan resigned from Cannon, and by 1993 it had folded. Immediately following Cannon's collapse, Golan became head of 21st Century Film Corporation and produced several medium-budget films.
Golan was hoping to film Spider-Man in 1986 at Cannon studios in United Kingdom, and shoot the exteriors in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Dolph Lundgren was envisioned as the Green Goblin and Spider-Man creator Stan Lee was approached to cameo as J. Jonah Jameson. Golan struggled for years to produce the Marvel Comics character, but failed after 21st Century Film Corporation went bankrupt and folded in 1996 (along with Carolco Pictures, another production company that had agreed to help Golan finance the film). Sony Pictures eventually got the Spider-Man rights and produced the first film in 2002. In 2002 he released his adaptation of Crime and Punishment.
Golan was married and had three children.
Golan died while visiting Jaffa, Tel Aviv with family members in the early hours of August 8, 2014. Ambulances immediately rushed to the scene, and following attempts to resuscitate him, paramedics pronounced him dead. He was 85 years old.
Filmography as director
- El Dorado (1963)
- Shemona B'Ekevot Ahat (1964)
- Dalia Vehamalahim (1964)
- Fortuna (1966)
- Einer spielt falsch (1966)
- 999 Aliza: The Policeman (1967)
- Tevye and His Seven Daughters (1968)
- What's Good for the Goose (1969)
- Margo Sheli (1969)
- Lupo! (1970)
- Attack at Dawn (1970)
- Malkat Hakvish (1971)
- Katz V'Carasso (1971)
- Shod Hatelephonim Hagadol (1972)
- Escape to the Sun (1972)
- Kazablan (1974)
- Lepke (1975)
- Diamonds (1975)
- Operation Thunderbolt (1977)
- The Uranium Conspiracy (1978)
- The Magician of Lublin (1979)
- The Apple (1980)
- Enter the Ninja (1981)
- Over the Brooklyn Bridge (1984)
- The Delta Force (1986)
- Over the Top (1987)
- Hanna's War (1988)
- Mack the Knife (1989)
- Zebrácká opera (1991)
- Hit the Dutchman (1992)
- Silent Victim (1993)
- Deadly Heroes (1993)
- Superbrain (1995)
- Russian Roulette - Moscow 95 (1995)
- Die Tunnelgangster von Berlin (1996)
- 1998 Lima: Breaking the Silence (1998)
- Armstrong (1998)
- The Versace Murder (1998)
- Death Game (2001)
- Crime and Punishment (2002)
- Open Heart (2002)
- Final Combat (2003)
- Days of Love (2005)
- A Dangerous Dance (2007)
- Marriage Agreement (2008)
Awards and commemoration
- 1978: Nomination for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film Operation Thunderbolt
- 1984: Nomination for Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture Cannonball Run
- 1987: Nomination for Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture Tough Guys don't dance
- 1988: Nomination for Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture Cobra
- In 1999, Golan was awarded the Israel Prize for his contribution to cinema.
- In 1994 Golan was awarded the Ophir Prize of the Israeli Film Academy for his Lifetime Achievement.
- The movie theater in the Azrieli building in Tel Aviv, Israel bore the name of the Golan-Globus company. It was closed in 2008.
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