This lively biography of the screenwriter of 1980s hit movies Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II, Beetlejuice, and Batman illuminates issues of film authorship that have become even more contested in the era of blockbuster filmmaking.
In this biography, Macor (Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids: Thirty Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas) provides as much granular detail as one could want about screenwriter Warren Skaaren s life, but is less clear on his legacy since his 1990 death from cancer. Macor walks readers through her subject s childhood and his leading role, as an undergraduate, in a successful Rice University protest that led to the resignation of a new president who had been selected without student input. After graduation, he landed a job as a program analyst for Texas governor Preston Smith, a position that led to his becoming the state s film commissioner, and his involvement in the movie industry. The bulk of the book details his role in the creation of numerous successful films, including Batman, Beetlejuice, and Top Gun, and his battles to get his contributions to the filmed scripts formally recognized. Skaaren s skill and efficiency he rewrote Top Gun in just 10 days became legendary, and Macor explains how the changes he made to characterizations improved them. Unfortunately, Macor provides less clarity about how Skaaren s efforts shaped the way screenwriters are treated today, missing an opportunity to make a larger statement about Hollywood s oft-overlooked writers.