Book Review: Lightning Strikes for Bruckheimer

While Johnny Depp steps away from his usual flamboyance with Transcendence, it’s a good time to assess the arresting coffee table book, Jerry Bruckheimer: When Lightning Strikes|Four Decades of Filmmaking  (Disney Editions) by historian/unit publicist Michael Singer.

As Depp attests in his generous foreward, Bruckheimer is the most successful and adventurous producer of his generation. He indulged Depp’s vision for the eccentric Captain Jack Sparrow when Disney questioned the wisdom of such an off-beat choice for their Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Of all the producers, Bruckheimer most resembles Cecil B. DeMille in his adoration of epic storytelling and showmanships, and his favorite screenwriter is Robert Bolt, a talent with taste and an understanding of mass appeal. No wonder the flash of lightning — the initial spark of creativity– became his trademark. By the way, Bruckheimer’s a damn good photographer as well.  Singer, not surprisingly, based on his vast experience on the Bruckheimer set, is insightful and thorough and we come away with a lot more understanding and appreciation of the uber-producer.

But let’s not forgot the early Paramount years with partner Don Simpson and American Gigolo, Cat People, Farewell My Lovely, and Thief. These artistic triumphs paved the way for Flashdance, Top Gun, and Beverly Hills Cop, and many more high-octane adventures and box office hits.

Although Bruckheimer was leery of making a movie based on the popular Disneyland attraction, the pairing with director Gore Verbinski and Depp made it alluring. And although the movie nearly shut down twice over budget issues, the anomaly and Depp’s quirky performance transformed Pirates into the producer’s most successful franchise. Bruckheimer embraced the outside the box approach with all of producing talents, and Singer reveals why this is the best test case of his ethos.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Books, Movies, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production

Add a Comment