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Grey Gardens / The Beales of Grey Gardens (The Criterion Collection) (1976)

Edith Bouvier Beale , Edith 'Little Edie' Bouvier Beale , Albert Maysles , David Maysles  |  PG |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (311 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Edith Bouvier Beale, Edith 'Little Edie' Bouvier Beale, Brooks Hyers, Norman Vincent Peale, Jack Helmuth
  • Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer
  • Producers: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Susan Froemke
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: December 5, 2006
  • Run Time: 185 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (311 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E5LEVK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,215 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Grey Gardens / The Beales of Grey Gardens (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New digital transfers
  • Disc One: Grey Gardens
  • Commentary by directors Albert Maysles, Ellen Hovde, and Muffie Meyer, and associate producer Susan Froemke
  • Excerpts from a recorded interview with Little Edie Beale by Kathryn G. Graham for Interview magazine (1976)
  • Video interviews with fashion designers Todd Oldham and John Bartlett on the continuing influence of Grey Gardens
  • Hundreds of behind-the-scenes photographs
  • Trailers
  • Filmographies
  • Booklet with an essay by writer Hilton Als
  • Disc Two: The Beales of Grey Gardens
  • New video introduction by Maysles
  • Booklet with a new essay by cultural critic Michael Musto

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Meet Big and Little Edie Beale—high society dropouts, mother and daughter, reclusive cousins of Jackie O.—thriving together amid the decay and disorder of their ramshackle East Hampton mansion. An impossibly intimate portrait and an eerie echo of the Kennedy Camelot, Albert and David Maysles’s 1975 Grey Gardens has since become a cult classic and established Little Edie as fashion icon and philosopher queen.

Amazon.com

Although it's typically described as a cult phenomenon, Grey Gardens is something more than that by now. The 1975 documentary by brothers Albert and David Maysles (who filmed the proceedings and co-directed with Muffie Meyer and Ellen Hovde) has been turned into a hit Broadway show, with plans for a feature film in the offing; it's also the title of a song by Rufus Wainwright, and has been referenced on TV shows like The Gilmore Girls, The L Word, and even Rugrats. In the process, Grey Gardens has become part of the cultural zeitgeist, at least in the gay community, a circumstance that no doubt had some influence on the decision to package it with The Beales of Grey Gardens, a 90-minute assemblage of outtakes and other unused material from the original film supervised by Albert Maysles and released in 2006.

One wonders if any of this would have transpired had Edith Ewing Bouvier (known as "Big Edie") and daughter Edith Bouvier Beale ("Little Edie") merely been garden variety eccentrics, instead of quasi-celebrities (the aunt and cousin, respectively, of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, nee Bouvier). On the other hand, there's a certain can't-turn-away-from-a-car-accident fascination that comes with watching the two Edies at home in their rundown, squalid East Hampton, Long Island estate (they were ordered to fix the place up before the documentary was shot, but it's still a dump, albeit a large one). With her endless parade of different "costumes," every one of them featuring a scarf, a towel, or some such material wrapped around her head (then in her mid-fifties, she had an oddball fashion sense that's a big part of her now-iconic status), Little Edie is quite a character. Considerably less appealing is her mother, a bitter, poisonous woman who apparently pressured her daughter to move back home and care for her after Big Edie's husband quite understandably abandoned her in the early 1950s. "My whole life, I've been ground down and insulted every minute," Little Edie confides to the camera, but she gives as good as she gets; the two of them squabble endlessly, mostly about past events and the careers they might have had (Big Edie as a singer, her daughter as a dancer and model). There are obviously many viewers who find this sort of terminal dysfunction appealing, even charming. For others, words like annoying and tedious may be more appropriate. And while The Beales of Grey Gardens offers more evidence that the two women actually cared for one another (there's also a good deal more interaction between the Beales and the filmmakers, along with various other visitors), it's essentially just more of the same. --Sam Graham

Stills from Grey Gardens (Click for larger image)


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
321 of 329 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic Documentary December 6, 2005
Format:DVD
"Grey Gardens" is a one-of-a-kind documentary exploring a mother-daughter relationship. These aren't just two anonymous people though; instead, the film chronicles Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter, "Little Edie," who just happen to be the aunt and cousin of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. The filmmakers, Albert and David Maysles, initially intended the film to be about Jackie's sister, Lee Radziwill. However, after being introduced to Edith and Little Edie by Lee, they decided to shift the focus.

What makes these two women so interesting? First, they live in a giant decaying mansion (the titular "Grey Gardens") in luxurious East Hampton. The family was extremely wealthy at one time, until Edith divorced and lost most of her money. She apparently stayed in the 28-room Grey Gardens mansion despite a lack of money for upkeep. The women show pictures of themselves from years earlier, and they were obviously beautiful society scions. However, they became more and more isolated from society as they hunkered down into their mansion At one point, the mansion was even raided by East Hampton officials, who wanted to evict the pair due to the unsanitary living conditions. Jackie subsequently helped them clean up the mansion.

All of this action, though, occurs before the film starts in 1975 (some of the back story is presented in pictures and newspaper stories). In fact, in the documentary, not much new happens: the women continue their bizarre existence in the mansion and argue. They argue a lot. Every conversation is filled with their remembrances of better times, when Little Edie was desired by wealthy men and Edith carried on an affair with a pianist. This life is so far removed from their current surroundings, and their regrets about that disparity quickly surface.
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139 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Searching for Grey Gardens January 27, 2002
Format:DVD
This stellar portrayal of two women, a mother and daughter, who spend their days in a run down house and are ironically aunt and cousin to Jackie O, displays documentary film-making at its very best. Although much has been said about the film, the focus always tends to emphasize the sordid living conditions that Edith Bovier Beale and her unmarried daughter, Little Edie inhabit, in an old estate in Easthampton, New York. Their house has been condemned by officials in Easthampton, and they live with cats and raccoons, but they don't give a damn about it. They are virtual recluses in their upscale community, "full of nasty Republicans." However, the film is not about the squalor that most of us would balk at in conventional situations. Their surroundings are only a backdrop and metaphor for the lost opportunities, and isolation that the women are subjected to as societal outcasts. Whether this is by choice, or due to their eccentricities is a mixed bag, but "Big Edie" and "Little Edie" are such magnetically charged women, it is fair to say that they are their own superstars within the world they have created.
Much of the film's pathos is magnified by the mother and daughter relationship. Little Edie, once a gorgeous, brilliant young woman feels she has been forced to sacrifice her life and a potential career as an entertainer, to look after her mother. Big Edie, once a veritable beauty in her day, was written out of her father's will for her aspirations to become a singer, and after her divorce retreated to her sea-side estate to spend the rest of her days. It is apparent that both women are extremely co-dependent, but in spite of their inherent needs to look after each other, Little Edie is full of resentment over the arrangement.
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105 of 111 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
The Maysles Brothers' famous 1975 documentary of a former society mother and her grown daughter (both former cousins of Jackie Onassis and both named Edie Beale) falling to pieces in their similarly-dilapidated East Hampton mansion has acquired a consider cult following over the years due to the Miss Havisham qualities of its subjects, who once both were great wealthy beauties and have fallen to bare subsistence living (and who both seem clearly mentally ill). The Maysles have been greatly criticized for showcasing these women as circus oddities, but as little Edie makes clear in a tape-recorded interview included in this beautiful Criterion Collection edition, both women loved the chance to have the attention given to them; the film also made it possible for little Edie to follow her dream of moving to NYC to work, albeit briefly, as a cabaret star.

But it would also seem wrong simply to characterize the two women as free spirits doing their own thing and being fabulous, as many of the films' cultists are mistakenly wont to do: GREY GARDENS at times seems a genuine hell for the women as well as for the viewer, who must endure the mother and daughter occasionally shrieking menacingly at one another over one another's words. And Little Edie seems like a lost fourth sister from Chekhov, bemoaning her lost chances at matrimony and escaping to the big city. But both women seem intelligent despite their moments of mental confusion, and Little Edie's editorializing during a Dr. Norman Vincent Peale radio broadcast (one of the film's highlights) shows her sharpness as well as her wicked sense of humor. And it is precisely the discomfort that the film occasions -- its refusal to sentimentalize these down-but-not-yet-out society survivors -- that makes it seem so memorable, and such a comment on the American tendency to trash the past even while nostalgically clinging to its wreckage.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movies.
Published 1 day ago by Helen Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fab
Published 17 days ago by rebcca parris
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
Grey Gardens is Lovely and so are the Beals.
Published 1 month ago by Marilyn Brady
4.0 out of 5 stars when the nutty rich become poor and a bit more nuts
a bit of look at what can happen when the money runs out to even the very well off . without servants how could they run the house? it leave you wanting to know how it would end . Read more
Published 1 month ago by R. L. Wyrwitzke
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but depressing
I thought this was interesting and tragic, all at the same time. I had to remind myself that mental health issues weren't dealt with quite as openly in the mid 70's as they are... Read more
Published 1 month ago by metcalf1991
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Interesting.
Published 1 month ago by LibbyL
5.0 out of 5 stars Must see documentary!
One of my all time favorite documentaries! Recommend watching the Grey Gardens film with Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore for amazing performances.
Published 1 month ago by Ms. Susan Farrell
4.0 out of 5 stars Real Life Strange
This is the bizarre but true documentary of an upper class family and the strange, eclectic pair of Big Edie and Little Edie Beale. Watch this and them the movie version... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Toasha
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Thank you for a good product.
Published 1 month ago by J. L. Lasko
1.0 out of 5 stars Not at all what I expected. It was totally ...
Not at all what I expected. It was totally a documentary of Jackie Bouvier Onassis's deranged/eccentric cousin that had been living in a run down house in the Hamptons that had far... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Debra Perkins
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