The third (and last) of author Norman Mailer's experiments in cinéma vérité filmmaking created between 1968 and 1970, Maidstone stars Mailer as Norman T. Kingsley, a celebrated filmmaker who is often described as the American Buñuel.
Kingsley and a large retinue of friends, actors, and colleagues have descended on his estate in Upstate New York to work on his latest project, a sexually provocative drama.
At the same time, Kingsley is planning to launch a campaign for president, and he's visited by a large number of guests eager to discuss his political perspectives, including journalists, academics, and a handful of African-American radicals.
Also on hand is Kingsley's ever-present posse of hangers-on nicknamed the cash box, led by his half-brother Raoul (Rip Torn). As a British television reporter records the proceedings for an upcoming profile, a shadowy group of American intelligence agents questions if the nation might be better off without the possibility of a Kingsley candidacy.
In the film's final reels, Mailer and his cast and crew drop their collective improvisation and discuss their work so far before the camera, but Torn takes it upon himself to give the film the ending he feels it needs by attacking Mailer with a hammer.
Fascinating if only for its remarkable portrait of Mailer's legendary ego in full flight, Maidstone would be the writer's last stab at filmmaking until he was hired to direct a film adaptation of his novel Tough Guys Don't Dance in 1987.