The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin has gained some exciting collections over the last couple of years… and several revolve around the film business. In honor of their exhibition “Norman Mailer Takes on America,” the Ransom Center and the Alamo Drafthouse are teaming up for a series of screenings dubbed “Mailer Vs. Hollywood,” which will include the few films that legendary author Norman Mailer had a hand in making. Here’s some information:
Mailer made only four films in three decades, yet this relatively scant output belies the indelible mark he left on independent filmmaking. “Wild 90” (1968), “Beyond the Law” (1968), “Maidstone” (1970) and “Tough Guys Don’t Dance” (1987) constitute this Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s highly controversial and tumultuous career as a feature filmmaker.
Mailer worked as a screenwriter and script doctor for the major studios before joining the underground film movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The school of New Journalism, which Mailer, Truman Capote, and Tom Wolfe helped usher into the literary community, was a decisive influence on his fictionalized film narratives. The following films will be screened in the series:
Oct. 18: “Beyond the Law” stars Norman Mailer and George Plimpton and chronicles a night spent in a New York City police station. “Beyond the Law” is a brutal reflection on the line between law and its transgressors. 16mm. 110 mins.
Oct. 25: “Wild 90” delves into the world of American street subculture, following a Mafia gang awaiting its orders. The film was an experiment in improvisation: the actors knew their lines, but the crew had not seen the script prior to filming. 16mm. 90 mins.
Nov. 1: “Maidstone” was shot with a large ensemble cast over the course of a week in the Hamptons and stars Mailer as the lewd and lascivious Norman T. Kingsley, a pornographic film director who aims to become president of the United States. 35mm. 110 mins.
Nov. 15: “Tough Guys Don’t Dance” stars Ryan O’Neal and Isabella Rossellini and is an experimental meditation on Mailer’s book of the same name. It is the only film Mailer created within the confines of the Hollywood system. 35mm. 110 mins.