By Gay Daly
Updated November 05, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

The story of director-screenwriter George Lucas’ youth should give aspiring young filmmakers hope. He graduated from high school only because he nearly killed himself making an illegal left turn into his own driveway that week, so the school took pity on him and gave him a diploma. Unfortunately, the writer’s ambivalence about the thinness of Lucas’ films creates an unbridgeable distance between biographer and subject — he can’t resist dismissing Star Wars as ”Diet Coke cinema.” Still, Mythmaker is worth reading just for Baxter’s detailed accounts of the making of the movies and its motherlode of delicious industry gossip. B-