Before becoming a screenwriter, James Lee Barrett served in the Marines. His first screenplay for The D.I. (1957) was about a Marine drill instructor. Barret went on to write many assorted action films in genres ranging from westerns to war films to police dramas to chase movies. He also penned the 1965 biblical epic, The Greatest Story Ever Told. In addition to screenplays, Barret also wrote pilot episodes for TV series and screenplays for TV movies. Later he won a Tony Award for his libretto for Shenandoah, a musical adaptation of one of his westerns.