Archive for Menahem Golan

The Empty Space

Posted in FILM, Painting with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2014 by dcairns

tevye

This is the empty space where this week’s edition of The ’68 Comeback Special should be — a critical look at the films that should have screened in Cannes ’68 but couldn’t because there were film directors literally hanging from the curtains. Scout Tafoya and I aim to cover all the entries. Well, what with New Year and all, I’ve fallen a bit behind, so I thought I’d write about the one Cannes film we haven’t been able to track down. Much easier to review a film without the tiresome effort of watching it, as I’m sure some professionals in the business could attest (check out Andrew Pulver on CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING for The Guardian. Does it sound like he watched more than half an hour?)

The vanished film from Cannes is — and you should prepare yourselves for a mild shock — TUVIA VESHEVA BENOTAV / TEVYE AND HIS SEVEN DAUGHTERS, which I take to derive from the same story as FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, a West German/Israeli co-production directed by none other than Menahem Golan. When no copy of the film materialized from any of the usual sources, Scout actually got in touch with the director himself, but he didn’t know where we could find it either.

Of all the filmmakers whose careers were, arguably, harmed or derailed or curtailed by the non-occurrence of Cannes ’68, Golan’s could be the most extreme — he certainly never had a shot at that kind of critical acclaim again. His very next film was WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GANDER, a mid-life crisis sex comedy starring Norman Wisdom, featuring Judy Geeson (a fellow Cannes 68 veteran fresh from HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH) and summed up by a friend in the pithy phrase “Makes NOT NOW DARLING look like the fuckin’ MAHABHARATA.”

Then Golan, truly became the man Billy Wilder called “Menahem Golem,” directing THE DELTA FORCE and becoming a real movie mogul, heading Cannon Productions and briefly giving the Hollywood majors a run for their money, capitalizing on the boom in video pre-sales as a way to make films that were in profit before they even opened. At Cannes, Golan could work the marketplace like Ricky Jay works a pack of playing cards. To bolster his fledgling studio’s artistic reputation, he signed a deal on a napkin for Jean-Luc Godard (one of the ringleaders who shut down Cannes in ’68) to make KING LEAR with Orson Welles, which didn’t quite work out but the movie was made, with Godard reputedly insisting on flying the Atlantic on Concorde every week to collect his cheque (but that CAN’T be true, right?). We also got TOUGH GUYS DON’T DANCE and OTELLO, showing that Golan’s idea of class was wide-ranging and eccentric.

Now, by writing about this before we’re done, I run the risk of the film actually turning up, but I figure that’ll be all the more exciting for this build-up. And if it never shows up, we avoid ending with a sense of let-down by talking about it now. And in any case, I haven’t done my homework and watched Marcello Fondato’s I PROTAGONISTI, which I just obtained a nice copy of. Look forward to that in a fortnight. And look forward — maybe — to TEVYE AND HIS SEVEN DAUGHTERS… someday.

(Obviously, if you have a copy, let us know!)

The ’68 Comeback Special

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2013 by dcairns

petu

Well, I said I’d eventually come up with something interesting to do on those alternating weeks when The Forgotten isn’t running…

Dave “Scout” Tafoya recently staged the Totally Illegal Film Festival, in which he brought together the movies programmed at the abortive 1968 Cannes Film Festival — all excepting two, which appear to be lost for the time being. Even Menahem Golan doesn’t know where to find a copy of his entry, TUVIA VESHEVA BENOTAV (DST looked him up and asked him), and Michel Cournot’s only film, LES GAULOISES BLEUES, seems likewise vanished in the mists of time. If anyone out there can locate a copy, we’d be very grateful (and so might Mr. Golan).

I helped Scout scout out copies of some of the remaining films, and we live in hope that the project will be taken up by someone with the resources to really do it on a grand scale — possibly the Cannes Film Festival. Apparently they were making noises about this back at their fiftieth anniversary, and in a few years it’ll be the fiftieth anniversary of Cannes ’68, which would seem a good time to do it…

Since then, Scout has created a series of Cannes video essays, revisiting the ’68 debacle in this one.

And now, Scout and I are coming together to present a series of posts, each Thursday, authored by each of us in turn (with The Forgotten appearing on the Thursday’s when I don’t post — I’ll link to that as usual and to Scout’s posts at the same time). We’re going to blog about all the films that were supposed to screen that fateful year, starting this week…

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Meanwhile, over at LimerWrecks the Surly Hack and I continue to work our way through Universal’s Frankenstein saga in doggerel form. Latest efforts authored or co-authored by me are here, here, here, herehere, here, here, here, and here. And we’ve still only reached FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN.

As usual, ace editing and imagery by horror host Hilary Barta.

Totally Illegal

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2013 by dcairns

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My film CRY FOR BOBO plays another film festival, more than eleven years after it was made. Feels good that I’m about to have another movie on the festival circuit…

The fest is this one, The Totally Illegal Film Festival, curated by Scout Tafoya, who has had the brilliant idea of not only programming my short, and Mark Cousins’ charming, personal flaneur-film WHAT IS THIS FILM CALLED LOVE?, and Dan Sallitt’s delight THE UNSPEAKABLE ACT, but of reassembling the programme of the 1968 Cannes Film Festival — the one which didn’t happen due to Les Evenements.

So residents of Pennsylvania and visitors to that great state can have the pleasure of seeing what the residents of 1968 missed. I gather Scout has scouted up practically everything, save for the Menahem Golan entry, which even Menahem Golan himself couldn’t supply a copy of.

(Interesting to think of young Golan in those days as a budding arthouse director, and interesting to speculate that the festival’s cancellation may have cut short this career, leading instead to his becoming an exploitation maven and short-lived movie mogul. When Golan was co-running Cannon films, he produced Jean-Luc Godard’s KING LEAR: FEAR AND LOATHING, with a deal memo signed on a restaurant napkin — perhaps he was grateful for JLG’s intervention sending him off in this direction.)

The ’68 festival would have included Richard Lester’s PETULIA, whose commercial prospects were dunted by the resulting damage to its release schedule, along with fascinating rarities like Frank Perry’s TRILOGY, Alain Resnais’s JE T’AIME, JE T’AIME, and Miklos Jancso’s THE CONFRONTATION, plus numerous movies that have fallen out of the collective critical consciousness altogether. Should make for a fascinating time capsule.

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