The Beales of Grey Gardens
I finally finished watching Albert & David Maysles and Ian Markiewicz's The Beales of Grey Gardens. It's taken me 3 months. Not a film that's easy to watch in one sitting, and I've done it in about 10 different viewings. It's hard to find words to describe this documentary, other than AMAZING!
From the wacky outfits, to the cat obsession, the furs, the non sequiturs, to the oblivion for appropriateness ..... yup, I'm still cognitive enough to realize this. I knew there was a reason that out of the 100 or more documentaries that my friend Corey has been collecting, the first one that he'd pop in for our viewing was The Beales of Grey Gardens.
1915: Grey Gardens, of 1975 documentary fame, now home of editor Ben Bradlee
and Sally Quinn
Little Edie at Gray Gardens in 1975
From Still Crazy After All These Years? by Michael Musto:
"The Beales are back, and their squalor is making lives brighter all over again! I've always worshipped the gals and their strangely powerful fashion choices and nutty but often spot-on philosophies. Having fallen off the society pages and into total disarray--coexisting with racoons, cats, and uninvited ghosts in their run-down East Hampton mansion -- Edith and Little Edie instantly became my favorite cautionary tale, one that chilled my spine yet still seemed as dangerously inviting as a walk through pre-Rudolph Giuliani Times Square. If I ever had to sink that low and love everything but the house, I'd want to do it their way, with sass and charisma surviving in the wreckage, at least whenever a camera was on. After going through the biggest social and mental crash landing since the decline of the Romanovs, the Beales came off as daft but somehow zingy, messy but still gorgeous, and always amazing company. Their banter is right out of an Edward Albee play, but just like Albee's George and Martha, there's some genuine affection amid all the screechy name-calling and rude finger-pointing. They need each other even more than they needle each other -- and years later, it turns out the discerning public still needs them and all the variations on what was obviously the world's first superbly twisted reality show. "
Their story has been made into a musical, which I find appalling. Not that they're not good material for one, but it just seems so ridiculous when the film is the real deal and without the forced corniness of the musical apperatus. It's also being made into a film with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange written and directed by Michael Sucsy. Again, SAD.
Big and Little Edie