Grey Gardens

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Ratings: 7.63/10 from 24 users.

Storyline

Grey GardensAlbert and David Maysles, pioneers in the cinéma vérité movement of documentary filmmaking, chose for their subjects of this film a mother and daughter with celebrity connections. Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie (or, as they are called by the brothers, Big Edie and Little Edie) are aunt and cousin to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. In the early '70s, their 28 - room mansion in Long Island's tony community of East Hampton was found to be a health hazard, and the two women, in their seventies and fifties, were threatened with eviction. Jacqueline Onassis paid for the house to be put in good order, and two years later, the Maysles paid the ladies a series of follow-up visits. This is not fly-on-the-wall filmmaking; the brother are sometimes shown on camera, and both women talk directly to them.

Big Edie reminisces about her husband (from whom she has long been separated) and her youthful singing career, Little Edie ruminates over memories of her thwarted romances and confides that she has to get out of Grey Gardens (the name of their estate), although she has been living there since 1952, and the two women pick at each other for transgressions past and present.

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25 Comments / User Reviews

  1. teresa

    I though this documentary was very heartbreaking.It should how smothering love can be so destructive.I don't doubt that
    these two women loved each other,but the mother was so selfish and controlling and denied her daughter a life even thou she herself would allow no one to control her. I hope
    that they have both found peace in the big stage in the sky
    and that Little Edie is finally free!!!

  2. big mama

    where were her sons in all this. why didn't they help. i think that that sons should have made to be ashame of themselves. this wouldn't not happened to no money hundrysob.

  3. Lucy - Canada

    I recently watched this doc on the Movie Network along with the new HBO film "Grey Gardens". Shocking! Unbelievable! Deeply Touching! Such stories are probably not totally uncommon in the world, but we may only hear about them if the individuals are, like these two were, connected to a famous name. Sad! Sad! Very Sad Indeed!

  4. goober

    I've tried numerous times to view this film to no avail. I have the divx player insstalled, but whether I click download or play nothing works. What's up with thwt?

  5. mazzy

    This is one of my favorites. Strange to see how little Edie's style carried over into the outside world. She used any piece of clothing she could to make her outfits. It reminds me of playing 'dress up' with my little sister a long long time ago =)

  6. e

    what an awful mother

  7. bella

    I don't see why people blame the mother. I see two equally mentally ill women.

    Sad.

  8. Lisa

    Hi all! It's been quite some time ago I watched the movie "Grey Gardens" on HBO I think it was. Sometime after that I watched maybe 5 videos of the documentary on youtube before it unfortunately got removed from youtube. I was thrilled to find it on this site. I just fell so "in love" with this story. I could personally relate to this story especially the relationship bet the mother and the daughter. Before you make judgmental comments especially about the mother you must try to have a deeper understanding of the mother. She wasn't awful. And I'm not sure you should call them mentally ill either. They do not seem severely mentally ill anyways. They certainly do not appear dangerous as most mentally ill people are probably not. I think both of them seem like pretty cool people. They seem very nice and down-to-earth. I would have liked to have met them though they were before my time. More so the mother then the daughter. The mother passed away in the seventies I think and the daughter passed away in the 90's if I'm correct. I was happy that Little Edie was finally able to escape that Grey Garden's prison, get to live some different places and have a happier life. I suppose it's not hard to believe that the neighborhood folk in the area didn't offer to help them. I have to wonder why none of the local churches did anything once news had gotten out of their poor circumstances. At long last their relative finally came to help them. Better late then never. The newspapers said she (Jacqueline) turned a blind eye to it. But why was that I wonder. (?) Why do people just not care about the misfortune of others. It's beyond sad that no one came to their rescue until within a couple years of Big Eddie's passing. They had only $150 per month to live on for 30 years or more. Well it would be like 20 years or more for Little Edie. Anyhow I found (still find) the story intriguing.

  9. Lisa

    To goober, you have to click download for the player. But then you must close all your windows except the little one showing the ___.exe I think it is. Then you have to click that for the player to install. You might have to restart your computer for it to work. Anyways I hope I helped you. I hope you'll be able to watch this wonderful Grey Gardens documentary. I've only watched a little of it so far; I'm going to watch it all the way through but probably not in one night. I think it's kind of long.

  10. LR

    A really interesting documentary. Sure there were many unanswered questions or details or segments left out but it was still an interesting documentary. What I hate, is when certain people in the world are offered better living arrangements/potentially better lives; they stubbornly refuse; inevitably making their lives even more difficult, harsh, sad and poor. I've learned that many of the people like these two women that refuse better living arrangements, usually have mental issues as well and that's the main reason they make such bad decisions regarding their well being. I saw the film as well starring Drew Barrymore. It was a typical Hollywood bio but it did fill in a few unanswered questions/important details the documentary makers left out.

  11. Lisa

    I'd like to point out to LR that Little Edie wanted to move out of Grey Gardens and out of state like her brothers suggested. But her mother adamantly refused to let her sons sell the property. The property was in the mothers name so the daughter was kind of stuck since she didn't want to go out and work. Like her father said she was more then capable of doing secretarial work. It was the mother using very bad judgment not the daughter. Big Eddie loved her home and thought there was no other place better then that. You have to understand if you love something it's hard to give up even if it would be the best thing. If it would have been me I wouldn't have had to think twice about selling. Little Edie should have put up more of a fit and maybe her mom would have given in. I guess Big Eddie just wasn't looking down the line at the impossibility of their situation. She's lived on $150. per month for 10 years and then for another over 20 years (I think) the $150 wasn't near enough for even basic bills like groceries, utilities and the upkeep of the house and property.

  12. kate

    neither of them seem terribly unhappy to me. they sing and drink and smoke and lay about in the sun...yes, the house is filthy, but they could clean and they don't. yes, they are undoubtedly mentally ill, but i just don't see how everyone thinks this is sad. i found it quite entertaining.

  13. Tanya

    This movie goes to show that you need to follow your dreams. If Eddie Sr's husband embrased her signing and allowed it then I doubt this would've happened to them. I too had an aunt that had to stay and take care of her mother. She never married and when my Grandmother died, she didn't have anyone. No friends, children or immediate family. Although, they were clean freaks but reminded me of those two.

  14. dawn

    Grrrr I have downloaded...stopped and restarted my computer and the movie keeps stopping, saying buffering!! I am able to watch anything else I want online...why not this? :(

  15. Beth

    I wouldn't exactly call the Edies 'happy'. More like living in a state of denial which morphed into depression and eventually acceptance and fear of change. A lot of people live their lives going through these stages, even tho it may not manifest in such outwardly obvious problems. I'd say initially it was the mother who was selfish and emotionally manipulative, likely all through her children's lives. That's why Little Edie's brothers never felt confident enough to put their foot down or take on the problem. And it's hardly the responsibility of the community; but it becomes a community problem when your neighbours are too irresponsible to look after themselves. This irresponsibility and denial turned into what seems like mental illness to me, or at the very least, depression - the cat-collection thing even has a name in psychology. Big Edie was undoubtedly a product of her generation and priviledged background. Women of her era from well-to-do families were never expected to think responsibly or to take care of others - they had servants for that. So she didn't have the life skills to live a poor life. And she didn't teach her daughter the skills she didn't have herself. But they were both smart enough to know what was happening, likely long before it got to an impossible situation. That's when most people decide they need to grow up. That no one is going to do it FOR you - it's up to you. Perhaps if you know you have a relative with more money than the gods, you figure you can just wait it out. And guess what, it worked. Jackie O. didn't really have a choice but to give them money, being in the public eye, unless she was willing to take critism, so she bent to the pressure and bailed them out. But really, how slimey is that, letting yourself get into such a state that you give other people no choice but to bail you out?

  16. Ronda

    This caught my attention while reading many books about the Bouvier families, JFK etc... As sad as the situation was I do see mental instability in both and coming from a family w such stature, it blows my mind that someone did not step up to the plate and help. Coming from a middle class family, I have learned that those that have less seem to want to give more. Had this been my Auntie, cousin or any other family member I would have not turned a blind eye to them, especially if I had the means to help them. I do see Love in that old home amongst the hoarding and filth. As it saddens me to watch this and somewhat w a level of embarrasment, acceptance for who they were and what they had become really cant be judged. This Mother and Daughter are at peace now...

  17. Alice

    I agree with Kate. I found these two wonderful characters to be happy with their lot in life. None of us are completely happy with our situations but the Edie's were quite content and happier than most people I believe. I didn't get a depressed feeling from either one of them. I just love the Beales.

  18. Beverly

    I would not say that the Beales' were mentally ill. Just a little dysfunctional. They made the best of a bad situation...Little Edie kept that old woman going by aggravating her. And big Edie irritated her daughter enough to keep her mind off her troubles (at times). Jerry Torre took their minds off their problems and they entertained and encouraged him. What a great documentary...I watch it often and wish I lived next door to them when they were alive....Well I'll just have to wait to see them in heaven.

  19. joanna

    Heartbreaking, sad, and beautiful. What a selfish mother.

  20. RaggedVixen

    The Maysles were the most astonishing documentarians. Such gentle social commentary on the crumbling remnants of bygone eras, disintegration of the aristocracy which these two women personify - metaphor is unnecessary, what with the cats literally pooping behind the portrait and raccoons filching stuff and storing it in the attic. Funny, poignant, and above all, the filmmakers never seem disrespectful of nor laughing at their subjects. Just showing them living their lives. The best of documentary does exactly this. I return to Grey Gardens at least once a year; I never tire of it. I also love this site! Thanks for bringing us these great films.

  21. Nelco

    That is what real freedom is all about.

  22. satie

    Basic groceries? Ice cream and caviar were delivered to the house regularly. While viewing the movie, I noticed Edie emptying canned tuna, not cat food, into the cats' bowl. Canned tuna is expensive. $150.00 went a lot farther back then but come ON... caviar? According to Lois Wright, the ragamuffin who attended Big Edie's birthday party and who lived with the Beales for over a year, dead cats were left on the bed until a "proper burial" could be performed. Disgusting, I know. Entertaining, unfortunately yes.

  23. Luxia

    I loved Big Edie and Little Edie...And Big Edie wasn't selfish and didn't ruin her daughter's life. After the trust fund ran out Little Edie had no other choice but to move back to Grey Gardens as her mother had no means of supporting her dream to become a singer, actress and dancer while she lived in New York. Once the money ran out....Little Edie had no were else to go, there was no other option. And I love how even though they're lives had fallen apart due to fate, they still had spunk and spirit despite all of those years of isolation and feelings of abandonment by other family members. These woman were at one point the Kardashians of they're day...except they had way more class. Instead accepting the fact the luxurious and pampered lives they once lived were gone and getting jobs like normal people. They chose to stay stuck in the past of what could have been...living in they're own dream worlds both slowly slipping into deep eccentricity. SHAME on Big Edie's two sons for not helping they're obviously mentally ill mother and poor big sister who was trapped in her mother's house.

  24. JoAnn Barrick

    You guys that are real Grey Garden fans need to come to Facebook and join us. Little Jerry is very often on and keeps us updated on his life.
    Big E would be so proud of him, he has grown up to be a wonderful, sweet,beautiful ,talented man. He shares every new piece of his art work.
    We have a great group of people that still love to share our thoughts. There are tons of pictures and stories that have been gathered over the years.

    Just go to FB and put The World Famous Grey Gardens in the search box.

  25. Cynthia

    Such a sad story. Deeply moving and fascinating nonetheless. Interesting how at one point in time these women were considered "American Royalty", yet ended up living in squalor. Such a wonderful/heartbreaking tale.

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