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Grey Gardens (1975)

7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 6,047 users  
Reviews: 51 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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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 | new york | See All (72) »

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:

Két nő - egy ház  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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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?
See more »


Soundtracks

People Will Say We're in Love
Music by Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II
Performed by Edith 'Little Edie' Bouvier Beale
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Recommended
23 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I saw this film a couple of weeks ago, and it's been stuck in my head ever since. It stars two spellbinding characters in what is unfortunately a mediocre documentary. To get the true story of the Beales, I had to wade through all of the DVD's bonus material and commentaries and search the web.

Although the Maysles and their fans (not to mention Edith and Edie themselves) bristle at the suggestion that this film is exploitative, this is exploitation in the truest sense of the word. Very little effort is every made to explain the Beales or how they came to the condition they were in - the Maysles approach seems to be to just turn the camera on and wait for Edith and Edie to say something outrageous. The sound, even on the Criterion re-release is poor and difficult to follow. Although I appreciate this film was made somewhat early in the history of documentary film, it's ironic to compare it to Geraldo Rivera's (!) far superior series on the sexual abuse of mentally retarded patients at Willowbrook State School in Staten Island from 1972, four years before Grey Gardens was shot.

To paraphrase a review in the New Yorker, there were many things Edith and Edie needed in their lives, and a documentary wasn't one of them.

As for Edith and Edie, the thing I kept thinking while watching the film was "where the hell is their family"? They were living in dangerous, unhealthy, unsafe conditions. How is it that Jackie O, married to one of the richest men on Earth (or the wealthy Bouvier family themselves) couldn't afford to get Edith and Edie a decent home? Or at the very least hire a part-time housekeeper or caregiver to come in and keep an eye on them both? It's shameful and a lasting disgrace to the entire Bouvier family.

Although this review may sound negative I would strongly recommend Grey Gardens to anyone who enjoys documentaries. Perhaps someday someone will come along and do a documentary about this documentary - bringing in the rich backstory (and afterstory) of the Beales and the whole subsection of Hamptons society in the 1970's.


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