Directed by Chris Hegedus • 1979 • United States
Starring Norman Mailer, Germaine Greer, Jacqueline Ceballos
On April 30, 1971, a standing-room-only crowd of New York’s intellectual elite packed the city’s Town Hall theater to see Norman Mailer—fresh from the controversy over his essay “The Prisoner of Sex” and the backlash it received from leaders of the women’s movement—tangle with a panel of four prominent female thinkers and activists: Jacqueline Ceballos, Germaine Greer, Jill Johnston, and Diana Trilling. Part intellectual death match, part three-ring circus, the proceedings were captured with crackling, fly-on-the-wall immediacy by the documentary great D. A. Pennebaker and a small crew, with Chris Hegedus later condensing the three-and-a-half-hour affair into this briskly entertaining snapshot of a singular cultural moment. Heady, heated, and hilarious, TOWN BLOODY HALL is a dazzling display of feminist firepower courtesy of some of the most influential figures of the era, with Mailer plainly relishing his role as the pugnacious rabble-rouser and literary lion at the center of it all.