Maidstone’s Notorious Fight Scene

There are disturbing movie scenes, and then there are disturbing movie scenes. The following, from Norman Mailer’s Maidstone, is not for the faint of heart. The 1970 film is the ultimate example of Mailer’s cinematic philosophy, which held that a thin veil of fiction could better expose people for who they really were than the supposedly unadorned reality of Direct Cinema, then the documentary mode du jour. Shot over the course of five drug-fueled days in East Hampton, New York, Maidstone stars Mailer as an underground filmmaker and presidential candidate surrounded by both followers and enemies. Near the end of the film, reality bleeds, quite literally, into the film when Mailer’s costar Rip Torn explodes in a hammer-wielding fury and attacks Mailer. Luckily (or not, depending on your point of view), the cameras were rolling and captured the resulting violent brawl. Nothing about this splenetic rage is staged. (Warning: the clip contains NSFW language.)

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