Tag Archives: Norman Mailer

Mailer Trailer Madness!

"Bold, innovative, wonderful... stinks!"

The more I discover about proto-hipster and egotistical hardnut Norman “The White Negro” Mailer’s film career, the more intrigued I become. I’ve already written about Maidstone, his rarely-seen 1970 feature that culminates in him being savagely attacked with a hammer by a demented Rip Torn. And I’m sure, at some point down the line, I’ve referenced ‘The Worst Line Reading in Cinema History‘ (and you really must watch that if you haven’t seen it), courtesy of Ryan O’Neal in 1987 potboiler Tough Guys Don’t Dance.

And now I’ve just happened across the trailer for that film, a slice of genuine weirdness featuring the man himself orating a selection of test audience comments on the film – some gently positive, others outright hostile (“….sleazy garbage!”) – in a pseudo-chilling deadpan, whilst eyeballing the camera.

While certainly unorthodox in concept, the trailer makes a decent fist of creating a refreshingly self-deprecating aura of mystique around a film which ultimately opened to poor reviews and is now widely regarded as a flop. According to Hal Hinson in the Washington Post, “You’ll see worse films than Tough Guys Don’t Dance, and God knows you’ll see better, but you’ll have to go a long way before you see anything stranger.” The same could certainly be said for the trailer. Watch for yourself below:

“I don’t wanna kill Mailer but I must kill Kingsley in this picture…”

Mailer and Torn at it in a field. Dignified

Rip Torn, as a friend of mine has pointed out repeatedly, is perhaps the only living man whose second name represents the direct consequence of performing the action indicated by his first name. [Email me if you can think of any others].

He is also, even by Hollywood standards, a grade-A nutter. His famed turn as the vicious wheelchair-bound dodgeball coach Patches O’Houlihan in, er, Dodgeball is, like a man seeking the doctor’s opinion after lowering himself too vigorously onto a lettuce, just the tip of the iceberg.

A fan of the sauce, Torn is a repeat offender, with multiple arrests for drink driving to his credit as well as a spectacular incident in 2010, in which he broke into a closed bank (in the alleged belief that it was his own house) brandishing a loaded firearm.

Lesser known to many, however, are the lengths to which Torn will take his method acting.  In the following clip from Norman ‘The White Negro’ Mailer’s 1970 oddity Maidstone  Torn, unhappy with Mailer’s direction, sets about his head with a hammer, prompting a gloriously bloody, homoerotic writhe in the grass, replete with proto-Tyson ear-munching and accidental boom mike infringement. Amazingly, the improvised altercation actually made it into the final cut. It is a genuine “is this really happening?” moment.  Enjoy:

My thanks go out to Cal King for pointing out that this all actually happened.