Menahem Golan (Hebrew: מנחם גולן; May 31, 1929 – August 8, 2014) was an Israeli director and producer. He is best known as the co-owner, with his cousin Yoram Globus, of The Cannon Group, a company that specialized in low-to-mid budget American films during the 1980s after Golan and Globus achieved significant success as filmmakers in their native Israel during the 1970s.
Golan produced movies featuring 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. Golan produced about 200 films, directed 44, and won eight Violin David Awards as well as The Israel Prize in Cinema.
Menahem Golan was born on May 31, 1929, in Tiberias, then Mandate Palestine. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Russian Poland. He spent his early years in Tiberias, then studied directing at the Old Vic School and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and filmmaking at New York University. During the 1948 Palestine war, Golan served as a pilot in the Israeli Air Force.
Golan started 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.
Golan is probably best known as a director for his film Operation Thunderbolt (Mivtsa Yonatan, 1977), about the Israeli raid on Entebbe airport in Uganda. He also produced Eskimo Limon (Lemon Popsicle, 1978), a film that spawned many sequels and an American remake, The Last American Virgin (1982).
In 1979, Golan did an adaptation of an Isaac Bashevis Singer novel entitled The Magician of Lublin. He was responsible for the musical The Apple (1980), an unusual moral fable with a rock-disco soundtrack that appeared on a number of lists of all-time-worst movies, but has since become a cult film.
Golan's production company, The Cannon Group, produced a long line of films during the 1980s and early 1990s, including 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 last half of the 1980s, most notably Masters of the Universe, based on the toys of that name and inspired by the comics 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. Golan resigned from Cannon in 1989, and by 1993 the company had folded. After Cannon's collapse, Golan became head of 21st Century Film Corporation and produced several medium-budget films.
Golan hoped to film Spider-Man in 1986 at Cannon studios in United Kingdom, and to shoot the exteriors in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Dolph Lundgren was envisioned as the Green Goblin and Spider-Man creator Stan Lee was approached to make a cameo as J. Jonah Jameson. Golan struggled for years to produce the Marvel Comics character, but he finally failed when 21st Century Film Corporation went bankrupt and closed in 1996 (along with Carolco Pictures, another company that had agreed to help finance the film). Sony Pictures eventually purchased the Spider-Man rights and produced the first film in 2002. In 2002, Golan released his adaptation of Crime and Punishment.
Golan was married and had three children.
While visiting Jaffa, Tel Aviv, with family members on the morning of August 8, 2014, Golan collapsed. He lost consciousness, and attempts to resuscitate him failed. Paramedics pronounced him dead thereafter. He was 85 years old.El Dorado (1963)Shemona B'Ekevot Ahat (1964)Dalia Vehamalahim (1964)Fortuna (1966)Trunk to Cairo (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) (with co-director Gabriel Koura)A Dangerous Dance (2007)Marriage Agreement (2008)1978: Nomination for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film Operation Thunderbolt1984: Nomination for Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture Cannonball Run1986: Nomination for Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture Cobra1987: Nomination for Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture Tough Guys don't danceIn 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.