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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Filmmaking > Industry > Pop Culture > Art > Politics > Great Depression > Musical > Stage > Br > Go Go Boys: The Story Of Cannon Films (2014/MVD Blu-ray)/The New Deal For Artists (1979/Corinth DVD)/Original Cast Album: Company (1970/Pennebaker/Sondheim)/Working Girls (1986/both Criterion Blu-ray)

Go Go Boys: The Story Of Cannon Films (2014/MVD Blu-ray)/The New Deal For Artists (1979/Corinth DVD)/Original Cast Album: Company (1970/Pennebaker/Sondheim)/Working Girls (1986/both Criterion Blu-ray)

Picture: B+/C+/B/B+ Sound: B+/C/B-/B+ Extras: B/C/B/C+ Films: B/B/B-/B

Next up are three very striking documentaries for you to catch, and another film inspired by one...

We start with a great documentary, The Go-Go Boys: The Story of Cannon Films (2014), gets a nice release on Blu-ray courtesy of MVD Visual. The doc explores of the filmography of the insanely over the top 80s film company that produced films known for being pure popcorn munching fare. The story is how two Israeli-born cousins, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, ended up producing over 300 films, and become a major contender in Hollywood in the 1980s with films starring Jean Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, and even Superman IV to name a few.

The film features interviews with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Dudikoff, Eli Roth, Boaz Davidson along with Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus themselves, as well as archival material of Sylvester Stallone, Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris from their 'appropriate' Cannon Films. It is another look at the rise and fall of a B-movie studio that was bound for disaster when it tries to be something more.

The Go-Go Boys is presented in 1080p high definition on Blu-ray disc with a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and an English LPCM 2.0 (48kHz, 16-bit) mix, both of which are of a high standard for the format and appropriate the documentary film that this is. Clips from the films seem to of strong quality to what is available, a plus as some of these films have been recently been restored and re-released!

Special Features include:

Original Theatrical Trailer

Reversible Artwork

Collectible Mini-Poster

and Limited Edition Slipcover (First Pressing Only).

For more on the madness that was Cannon Films, also be sure to see Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, which we reviewed on Blu-ray ta this link:


Wieland Schulz-Keil's The New Deal For Artists (1979) was originally made by and for public television, but like the subject matter itself, has been somewhat lost in the shuffle despite its extremely important subject matter, all the people interviewed and that is is narrated by no less than Orson Welles. When Herbert Hoover's policies turned out to be a total disaster and the Great Depression kicked it, he was eventually replaced by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who took serious action to save the country.

Despite being unpopular with certain elites, he got his policies funded and through, including what was called the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and this included hiring artists of all kinds and types, including persons who did not have a voice in society do to discrimination and the resulting boom helped build the Arts in the U.S. with its own identity that was not dependent on what had been done previously or in other countries. It also helped build the country itself and build it up for what would soon be WWII.

Running 90 minutes (it could have been a mini-series) and making every minutes count, it is loaded with interviews, art, history and the rise and fall of all the various programs that resulted, including the uniquely American Fascist backlash that resulted in the House of Un-American Activities by 1940. At the time it was made, interviewees and witnesses then were concerned this history would be lost. Now more than ever is the time to revisit it.

Interviewees include Norman Lloyd (who just died a few months before this posting!!!), John Houseman, John Randolph, Studs Terkel, Howard Da Silva, Will Geer, Arthur Rothstein, Jack Conroy, Rexford G. Tugwell and many more, though Welles contributes as much commentary by never being on the camera. This is a priceless work that should be must-see viewing in every school in the country, even the world and I was glad to see it again after all these years. Cheers to Corinth for bringing it back.

The 1.33 X 1 is a new scan off of the original 16mm negative, with color footage, black and white footage, stock footage and stills, looking fine for the most part, but I would love to see this in HD, while the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is off of the surviving optical track, but is at a lower volume than it should be, I would have liked and even lower than the new trailer on the disc. Why, I do not know, but be careful of high volume playback and volume switching.

Extras include an illustrated booklet on the film including informative text profiles, plus a Trailer for its reissue.

D.A. Pennebaker's Original Cast Album: Company (1970) is the legendary documentary filmmaker's look at what turned out to be the turning point for lyricist/composer Stephen Sondheim, whose work was limited to mostly lyricist when he thought he had much more to offer. With a mix of hits and misses entering into this project, his idea of often multi-layered and even overlapping vocals with tricky time signatures reminiscent of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, yet uniquely his own. This would finally be the work that permanently established him the musical thinker of the future and the future of Musicals overall.

This film is the night the original cast cuts the original cast soundtrack (or song tracks for that matter) and was a then-rare look into such work, the creative process and became a classic of its own. Some would cynically say it was a nearly hour-long promo film for that album release (especially as this sadly only runs about 54 minutes; wish it was much longer) but the talent in front of and behind the camera, including talent in front of the microphone and mixing boards offer a rare synergy we have rarely seen since with documentaries and featurettes in this mode only a little more common 50+ years later.

The singing cast is brilliant, meld very well and include starts of the time and on the climb like Dean Jones (already a movie star), Elaine Stritch (one of the stages greatest legends, though many still do not know her and she is sadly no longer with us), Barbara Barrie (a great actress who was also terrific as the wife of the title captain on the landmark TV classic Barney Miller), Charles Kimbrough (who helped make Murphy Brown so important), Beth Howland (who was Vera for the entire run of the critically acclaimed, long-running TV hit Alice) and more. If anything, you want to see everything all involved have ever been in after this, as it captures the true spirit of Broadway in the best way possible.

It is also fun to see all the engineers working with expensive, but older equipment (the mixing boards have knobs, not the sliders that are standard today) and how hard all involved are working together to make this the definitive recording of what is now an all-time classic. It worked and is now a legendary film, now restored for everyone to see. Any serious film or music fan must see this one.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image is from a 4K scan off of the original 16mm Ektachrome 16mm film, which we guess are the 7241 and 7242 stocks now known for their grain and fading, but that remarkably is not an issue in the transfer here.

The PCM 2.0 Mono is off of the original 1/4th-inch and 16mm magnetic master tapes, sounding pretty good for what is a monophonic recording of a stereophonic album that was also issued a few years in in 4-track Quad versions. Hope that master tape gets a reissue soon.

Extras are many and include an illustrated paper foldout on the film with an essay by author Mark Harris and tech info, while the disc adds a new audio commentary by composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim, Audio commentary from 2001 featuring director D. A. Pennebaker, actor Elaine Stritch, and Broadway producer Harold Prince, New conversation among Sondheim, orchestrator Jonathan Tunick, and critic Frank Rich, New interview with Tunick on the art of orchestrating, conducted by author Ted Chapin, Never-before-heard audio excerpts from interviews with Stritch and Prince, conducted by D. A. Pennebaker and Hegedus in 2000, ''Original Cast Album: 'Co-Op,''' a 2019 episode of the TV series Documentary Now! that parodies the film and a reunion of the cast and crew of ''Original Cast Album: 'Co-Op''' recorded in 2020, featuring director Alexander Buono; writer-actor John Mulaney; actors Renee Elise Goldsberry, Richard Kind, Alex Brightman, and Paula Pell; and composer Eli Bolin.

We have covered more Sondheim work on this site than you think, so feel free to look up him and his titles liberally, including this stage revival of Company from 2011 we covered on Blu-ray at this link:


Finally, we have director Lizzie Borden's Working Girls (1986) getting a 4K remaster from the good people at Criterion and inspired by her documentary Born In Flames. The disc looks fantastic for the Blu-ray format and has some interesting extras that shed some new light on the odd film. The film centers around a prostitute and is partly a nude film and partly a sociological pursuit centered on prostitution culture. It reminds me a little bit of Sex, Lies, and Videotape and other films of the like.

Working Girls stars Ellen McElduff, Amanda Goodwin, Richard Leacock, and Louise Smith.

This is a new 4K restoration of the film that has been supervised by director Lizzie Borden, and comes paired with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack. It is presented in 1080p on Blu-ray disc with an MPEG-4 AVC codec and an original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and an English LPCM Mono (48kHz, 24-bit) mix and English subtitles. The transfer is pretty nice here for the format and has been cleaned up the aging film considerably.

Special Features:

Audio commentary from 2007 featuring Borden, director of photography Judy Irola, and actor Amanda Goodwin

New conversation between Borden and filmmaker Bette Gordon

New conversation with actors Louise Smith and Amanda Goodwin, producer Andi Gladstone, and first assistant director Vicky Funari

New conversation with sex workers Antonia Crane, Daphne Von Rey, Selena the Stripper, and Jo Weldon

and an essay by author So Mayer and excerpts from a 1987 interview with Borden by film critic Scott MacDonald in the included paper booklet.

- Nicholas Sheffo (Company, Deal) and James Lockhart



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