The Residue of Design
Unable to make auteurism into a model, Paramount turned away from directors and complex narratives toward production designers and clean, hyperlegible images. “High-concept” style conquered substance, but it was a style that stayed true to the studio’s history of extreme production design. The studio capitalized on the success of Saturday Night Fever by making a series of “popsicals” like Flashdance and Footloose and by turning Eddie Murphy into a movie star. But as Gulf + Western remade itself as Paramount Communications, the studio was under tremendous pressure to justify its role. Barry Diller argued that the movies were the heart of the new, synergistic conglomerate. Still, the changes at Paramount chased away the inventors of high concept. Left behind were Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, and their next film, Top Gun, showed how the paranoid gaze of the seventies could meld with the high finish of the eighties.
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