Battle Beyond the Stars: Jimmy T. Murakami (From the Pen of)

Anthology inaugurates an ongoing series called FROM THE PEN OF… to spotlight that brutally neglected figure most often forgotten in the filmmaking process, namely the screenwriter.

Famously devalued by cinephiles more prone to celebrating auteurs and actors, screenwriters are rarely honored with the likes of critical studies or repertory retrospectives.

While few classic Hollywood scribes continue to earn attention (Ben Hecht, Preston Sturges, Dalton Trumbo), most have never received their fair share of credit.

This is particularly true of screenwriters who emerged hot on the heels of the demise of the studio system in the 1960s. While audiences may associate the works they penned more closely with particular directors, a closer study reveals that the sensibility and ingenuity of particular screenwriters shines through in each of these films.


1980, 104 minutes, 16mm. Screenplay by John Sayles. With Richard Thomas, Robert Vaughn, John Saxon, and George Peppard.

This Roger Corman-produced mash-up of STAR WARS and THE SEVEN SAMURAI centers on seven intergalactic mercenaries teaming up to defend a peaceful planet from the evil tyrant Sador (John Saxon).

The film’s charming modesty belies the heavy-duty talent behind the scenes, including James Cameron (who was responsible for the art direction), composer James Horner (Titanic), production assistant Gale Ann Hurd (producer of Aliens), and John Sayles, who contributed the witty, memorable screenplay.