Eclipse Series 35: Wild 90 (1967), Beyond the Law (1968) DVD9 Criterion Collection
Norman Mailer has always been a larger-than-life literary figure, one whose gargantuan personality regularly precedes and often supersedes the quality and passion of his prose. He's one of those authors that most people know by name, but whom they maybe have never read. His outlandish behavior and public spats regularly put him at the center of controversy, as did the wildly varied success of his writing. Whether a book of his was loved or loathed, he at least usually went for it with an admirable level of gusto.

So it makes a certain kind of sense that the author would gravitate to a medium where he could put himself front and center in every sense of the word. At the tail end of the 1950s, Mailer could see the status of the Great American Novel declining as other entertainments took over. He started peeking in on the New York cinematic circles, visiting the Actor's Studio and embracing "The Method." This coming together practically seems like an inevitable meeting of the minds. He was an author who often lived his writing, or at least the persona concocted as a byproduct of the prose; as an actor and filmmaker, he would live those stories, too. The timing is also hard to ignore. As Mailer was turning to movies, Truffaut and Godard and their peers in the Nouvelle Vague were altering the art form in exciting, innovative ways, freeing it from the studio-bound grandiosity of Golden Age Hollywood. John Cassavetes was doing the same on Mailer's home turf, blazing a trail for independent cinema and achieving pioneer status.

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