Grey Gardens (1975)

This poignant and strikingly original documentary is a tribute to two women who, for more than 20 years, colored outside the lines and did it beautifully. Once the queens of society, Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter, also named Edith Bouvier Beale, withdrew from the world in the ’50s only to be rediscovered by pioneering documentarians Albert and David Maysles. The brothers originally set out to do a film about Princess Lee Radziwill, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ sister. When they met the Beales during their research, however, they were so intrigued by the world they had created in their decaying East Hamptons mansion they decided to make a film about them instead. One of the Maysles’ greatest gifts in films like Gimme Shelter (1970) and Salesman (1968) is to take themselves out of the picture, and that gift is evident here. In filming mother and daughter, “Big Edie” and “Little Edie,” they let their subjects shape the film through their daily routines, reminiscences, spontaneous musical performances and frequent bickering. The result is a poetic, often comic evocation of eccentricity and of two women who never stopped being themselves.

Presented in collaboration with Janus Films and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Dir. Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Muffie Meyer

In attendance: Albert Maysles, Michael Pogorzelski