Pennebaker on Mailer: Wild 90 and Beyond the Law

On Film / Short Takes — Oct 15, 2012

The feral first three films by Norman Mailer, available in our thirty-fifth Eclipse set, may look primitive, but Mailer had some of the best filmmakers in the business on set to help him out, including verité pioneers D. A. Pennebaker and Richard Leacock. Pennebaker, known for such documentaries as Monterey Pop (1967) and The War Room (1993), was particularly involved, serving as a cinematographer on all three films (1968’s Wild 90 and Beyond the Law and 1970’s Maidstone). A guiding influence on these daring experiments, he was witness to some bizarre behavior. In a new, Criterion-exclusive interview, which we will present this week in two parts, critic Michael Chaiken sits down with Pennebaker to talk about what it was like working on Mailer’s indefinable, anything-goes films. In this first installment, Pennebaker recalls Wild 90 and Beyond the Law.