DVD Release: Eclipse Series 35: Maidstone and Other Films by Norman Mailer

DVD Release Date: Aug. 28, 2012
Price: DVD $39.95
Studio: Criterion

Maidstone movie scene

Norman Mailer (l.) and Rip Torn go at it in Maidstone.

Eclipse Series 35: Maidstone and Other Films by Norman Mailer puts Mailer’s novels, essays, articles, activism and ego aside and chronicles a largely forgotten chapter of his life: His his late-1960s, headlong, kamikaze-style plunge into making experimental films.

Mailer’s rough-hewn, self-financed, largely improvised cult works all star Norman himself and feature technical assistance from cinema verité trailblazers D. A. Pennebaker and Richard Leacock.

The fullest realization of his directorial efforts is undoubtedly 1970’s blustering Maidstone, wherein Mailer plays a filmmaker and presidential candidate who may be the target of an assassination attempt.

As is the case with all of Criterion’s Eclipse releases, there are no bonus features included in the collection.

Here’s a look at Maidstone and the other two movies that comprise the two-disc set:

Maidstone (1970)
Over a booze-fueled, increasingly hectic four-day shoot in the Hamptons, Norman Mailer and his cast and crew spontaneously unloaded onto film this lurid and loony chronicle of U.S. presidential candidate and filmmaker Norman T. Kingsley debating and attacking his hangers-on and enemies. The gonzo film transforms into something like a documentary on its own making when costar Rip Torn (TV’s The Larry Sanders Show)  breaks the fourth wall and attacks the filmmaker!

Wild 90 (1967)
Norman Mailer’s first filmmaking effort stars the director and his two longtime creative collaborators Buzz Farber and Mickey Knox as a trio of gangsters holed up in a ramshackle New York apartment, drinking, braying, and fighting.

Beyond the Law (1968)
Norman Mailer’s belief that we’re all either police or criminals at heart was the impetus for his second film, which takes place over the course of one feverish night in a Manhattan police precinct and neighboring bar. In addition to Mailer, who casts himself as tough-guy Irish cop Francis Xavier Pope, the film features Rip Torn and George Plimpton.

Here’s a lively, almost-trippy scene from Maidstone:


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.