Rip Torn, who died yesterday at the age of 88, has a career full of memorable achievements. As Artie the producer at The Larry Sanders Show . As Agent Zed in Men in Black . As a patch O'Houlihan in Dodgeball . (And these are only from the second half of his career.) And all of them are characterized by a combination of restraint and power that very few actors can create.
But there is a performance by Rip Torn that I especially remember: The time when he tried to break the head of Pulitzer Prize winner Norman Mailer with a hammer.
It was fierce. Not so reserved.
The clip is taken from the documentary drama Maidstone the third part of a series of films that Mailer wrote, directed and produced in the late 1
The late '60s and early' 70s were a weird time for male artists, actors and intellectuals who were born around the beginning of the 20th century. See Richard Pryor and Milton Berle in The Mike Douglas Show . See Gore Vidal and William F. Buckleyon ABC during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. In the clip Maidstone Torn and Mailer both seemed to be macho-estranged in a Marlboro-Man manner, but also overstimulated by the sexual revolution, and the result of this combination is a kind of pathetic intensity that only it can kick when two middle-aged egos get bruised.
This clip contains several different lessons: Never participate in a movie directed by a novelist. Never leave your ear unprotected. And never take a hammer when you're mad.