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Grey Gardens (1975)

7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 5,568 users  
Reviews: 49 user | 66 critic

An old mother and her middle-aged daughter, the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, live their eccentric lives in a filthy, decaying mansion in East Hampton.

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Title: Grey Gardens (1975)

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Utilizing hours of unseen archival footage, The Beales is a new take on the women of Grey Gardens.

Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles
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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Herself
...
Herself
Brooks Hyers ...
Himself - Gardener
Norman Vincent Peale ...
Himself (voice)
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Storyline

The Maysles brothers pay visits to Edith Bouvier Beale, nearing 80, and her daughter Edie. Reclusive, the pair live with cats and raccoons in Grey Gardens, a crumbling mansion in East Hampton. Edith is dry and quick-witted - a singer, married but later separated, a member of high society. Edie is voluble, dresses - as she puts it - for combat in tight ensembles that include scarves wrapped around her head. There are hints that Edie came home 24 years before to be cared for rather than to care for her mother. The women address the camera, talking over each other, moving from the present to events years before. They're odd, with flinty affection for each other. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

mansion | cat | singer | raccoon | flea | See more »

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

27 September 1975 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Grey Gardens  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to a 2009 interview in the San Francisco Chronicle, Edith 'Little Edie' Bouvier Beale wore a beautiful red dress to the 1975 premiere of this film, only she wore it backwards, with the zipper in front. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Edith 'Little Edie' Bouvier Beale: What're you doing down there? You staying there?
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Soundtracks

You and the Night and the Music
(uncredited)
Music by Arthur Schwartz
Lyrics by Howard Dietz
Performed by Edith Bouvier Beale
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Truth is stranger than fiction...
3 August 1999 | by (Seattle, Washington) – See all my reviews

One question that must be asked immediately is: Would this film have been made if the women in it were not the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis?

The answer is: Probably not.

But, thankfully, they are (or were) the cousin and aunt of Jackie.

This documentary by the Maysles brothers on the existence (one could hardly call it a life) of Edith B. Beale, Jr., and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale (Edie), has the same appeal of a train wreck -- you don't want to look but you have to.

Big Edith and Little Edie live in a once magnificent mansion in East Hampton, New York, that is slowly decaying around them. The once beautiful gardens are now a jungle.

Magnificent oil painting lean against the wall (with cat feces on the floor behind them) and beautiful portraits of them as young women vie for space on the walls next to covers of old magazines.

Living alone together for many years has broken down many barriers between the two women but erected others.

Clothing is seems to be optional. Edie's favorite costume is a pair of shorts with panty hose pulled up over them and bits and pieces of cloth wrapped and pinned around her torso and head.

As Edith says "Edie is still beautiful at 56." And indeed she is. There are times when she is almost luminescent and both women show the beauty that once was there.

There is a constant undercurrent of sexual tension.

Their eating habits are (to be polite) strange. Ice cream spread on crackers. A dinner party for Edith's birthday of Wonder Bread sandwiches served on fine china with plastic utensils.

Time is irrelevant in their world; as Edie says "I don't have any clocks."

Their relationships with men are oh-so-strange.

Edie feels like Edith thwarted any of her attempts at happiness. She says "If you can't get a man to propose to you, you might as well be dead." To which Edith replies "I'll take a dog any day."

It is obvious that Edith doesn't see her role in Edie's lack of male companionship. Early in the film she states "France fell but Edie didn't.

Sometimes it is difficult to hear exactly what is being said. Both women talk at the same time and constantly contradict each other.

There is a strange relationship with animals throughout the film; Edie feeds the raccoons in the attic with Wonder Bread and cat food. The cats (and there are many of them) are everywhere.

At one point Edie declares "The hallmark of aristocracy is responsibility." But they seem to be unable to take responsibility for themselves.

This is a difficult film to watch but well worth the effort.


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