Montauk, East Hampton, New York, 2016. Peter Beard discusses his work as a photographer, artist and diarist before reminiscing about his attempt to make a documentary in the summer of 1972 ... See full summary »
A documentary that records the darkly humorous sequence of events leading up to a seance to manifest Big Edith Bouvier Beale and Little Edie Bouvier Beale so they can attend a celebration ... See full summary »
Mother and daughter - Big Edie and Little Edie Beale - live with six cats in a crumbling house in East Hampton. Little Edie, in her 50s, who wears scarves and bright colors, sings, mugs for the camera, and talks to Al and David Maysles, the filmmakers. Big Edie, in her 70s, recites poetry, comments on her daughter's behavior, and sings "If I Loved You" in fine voice. She talks in short sentences; her daughter in volumes. The film is episodic: friends visit, there's a small fire in the house, Little Edie goes to the shore and swims. She talks about the Catholic Church. She's ashamed that local authorities raided the house because of all the cats. She values being different.Written by
Early in the film there is a conversation between Little Edie and the Maysles brothers in which they speculate on who might play the two Edies in a dramatized movie version of their lives. Little Edie says she doesn't want any actress to play her. Off screen, one of the Maysles brothers suggests Ethel Barrymore for the role of Big Edie. Ethel Barrymore was the great-aunt of actress 'Drew Barrymore', who ultimately played Little Edie in the 2009 dramatized movie Grey Gardens (2009). See more »
David Maysles, the primary editor of the brilliantly edited "Grey Gardens" died in 1987 and was therefore not involved with this project.
According to his brother and cameraman Albert (his interview is the only extra on the DVD), he and David filmed for about 6 weeks for several hours a day in the early autumn of 1973. Presumably, this film was culled from the best of what remained of that material.
It's disjointed to the point of really just being a roughly assembled collection of outtakes. We see much more of the Marble Faun as well as quirky artist friend Lois who only appeared in the birthday party scenes in "Grey Gardens". Little Edie in particular comes across as both more rational as well as more flirtatious with the Maysles brothers, especially the younger David. And the extent to which the brothers engaged with and encouraged the Beales becomes much more obvious in these segments.
Still, this is a must-see for fans of the Beales, if only for a view of all of Little Edie's amazing costumes of the day as well as her general philosophies of life. Little Edie was a true free-thinking early feminist, trapped by the circumstances of her time and social status, but I'm sure it would please her endlessly to know she has so many admirers more than a decade after her death.
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