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Israeli director and producer Menahem Golan dead at 85

Israeli director and producer Menahem Golan passed away Friday from natural causes. He was 85 years old. Best known for being one half of the infamous Golan-Globus film company and their studio Cannon Films. Golan was responsible for such B-movie classics as "Enter the Ninja", "The Delta Force", "Over the Top" and "The Versace Murder". Along with his cousin Yorum Globus, they made Cannon Films into a direct-to-video dynamo until bad business decisions and infighting led to the collapse of the company.

Life and times of Menahem Golan.
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Menahem Golan
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Born on May 31, 1929 in Tiberias, Palestine to parents of Polish descent. Golan was always interested in show business and he pursued a career into the stage and cinema after spending time as a fighter pilot during the Israeli War of Independence. He spent time learning stage directing at the Old Vic and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. In 1963 he was an production assistant and assistant director on the film "The Young Racers" under the guidance of Roger Corman.

Learning low budget filmmaking from Corman set Golan on a career in the cinema. He started Noah Films in 1963 and soon became a major player in the fledgling Israeli film industry. Soon he was directing and producing such notable films as "Lemon Popsicle", "Operation Thunderbolt" and "The Last American Virgin". Cannon Films (a small film company the cousins purchased in 1979) would began to prospire under their leadership with their low budget productions on the burgeoning video scene with films such as "Death Wish II", "Revenge of the Ninja", "Breakin", "Invasion U.S.A." and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II".

As fast as Cannon was rising it would soon lose millions due to their expenditures on such film productions as "Superman IV", "Lifeforce", "Invaders From Mars", "Masters of the Universe" and the money wasted on the extended pre-production of "The Amazing Spider-Man" would bankrupt Cannon. Golan would leave the company and become the head of 21st Century Film Corporation but the company would go belly up after the disastrous "Captain America" film along with the flop of the "Phantom of the Opera" remake would cripple the company and it would eventually fold.

Menahem Golan would return to his roots of low budget filmmaking and would base his operations from Israel. He would retire from filmmaking in 2008 at the age of seventy-nine. His passing marks another end of filmmaking. Golan was a filmmaker who saw the bigger picture and utilized his small budgets and short production schedules to their fullest potential. He was a mainstay for years at the Cannes Film Festival whose model of distribution and selling of movies was an innovative method that would change the business forever.

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