In his first attempt to make a motion picture, Mailer spent $1,500 of his own money to finance Wild 90, and recruited D.A. Pennebaker as his cinematographer. The result? Renata Adler wrote in her review that the 1968 film, “relies also upon the indulgence of an audience that must be among the most fond, forgiving, ultimately patronizing and destructive of our time.”
Following the hardboiled lives of several detectives, and set in a Manhattan police precinct and neighboring bar, Beyond the Law has been described by some as a proto-Law and Order aimed at shining a light on what it’s like to be a member of New York Police Department. Lennon writes that the author “spent nearly eight months” editing the 1968 film, and points out that this was “four times as long as he had spent writing Armies of the Night.”
Mailer gave up on making films throughout the 1970s, but somehow convinced producers to let him direct the adaption of his 1984 novel, Tough Guys Don’t Dance, starring Isabella Rossellini in the prime of her career and Penn Jillette as a reverend named Big Stoop. The 1987 film might have been the best of Mailer’s filmography, if only it didn’t feel like something Jason Schwartzman’s character on Rushmore would direct if given the chance.
But you can’t deny that the trailer was pretty hilarious.