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Washington "Gotta Dance" Cube

Little Edie didn't have a happy ending. She sold the house to Sally Quinn (former party girl) and Ben Bradlee (former editor of Washington Post) with the request the structural shape be retained. She moved around, drifted, and wound up in a condo in Florida, where upon her death from heart attack, her body wasn't found for five days until a "fan" went looking for her.

Lee Radziwill contends Jackie O never went out to Grey Gardens, nor paid for it's repair. I do remember she gave up some money for utilities and such and some dumpstering, but I don't think many improvements were made to the house.

In The Washington Post recently Sally (now a Georgetown doyenne with a large house that covers a sizeable portion of a city block, and an Eastern Maryland shore house AND Grey Gardens,) wrote a piece about buying the house and getting all of these family bits of memorabilia with it. It came across as so....snobby...."and then the house was redone in a year" ...yeah...$$$$...that people completely slammed her for writing it, telling her in their comments they remembered her when. NOT the effect she was going for, I think.

Bradlee's first wife was Tony Pinchot, who was sister to Mary Pinchot Meyer who was having an affair with JFK and was found murdered (unsolved) on the Georgetown Canal walkpath (implications being CIA did it.)Sally was a B-reporter in the Style pages of the Post who nabbed herself a rich husband. Blonde trophy wife #2.

Funny how all of these people are connected. Jackie through her father, and Black Jack Bouvier stole the Bouvier trust money for his children, leaving Big Edie short. The Pinchots. The Meyers. The Sedgwicks (and another Edie...Warhol's.) It goes on and on. There was another eccentric beauty named Rosamund Pinchot that was once considered the most beautiful woman in America. She's even more fascinating in terms of kicking off the traces of that Long Island Lockjaw world and seeking a new one on her own terms.

Chris

I love Grey Gardens! The Criterion Collection has even more footage than the original. I can't wait to see the movie. (I don't have HBO so my sister recorded it for me and it is on its way!

Jubbs

I did not think when I saw the original doc on cable in the mid 90's that anyone would be talking about it still in 2009, much less making movies and plays based on it. Weird. I do remember my jaw being dropped throughout the whole film back then.

A Fan

RE: Lee Radziwill contends Jackie O never went out to Grey Gardens...

Isn't there footage in the original doc which includes Jackie O at the house?

emmanuel

i saw it on the big screen (entertainment weekly hooked it up). it was an artistic smash, yo

spazmo

Aw Rich, thank you! You got the Grey Gardens ball rolling for me during the ANTM season with Jade (good times), and I'm so happy you've sorta completed the circle with this review.

I tried to be staunch, I really did, but when that beautiful, touching score swells up near the end and you see Little Edie's face fall as the Maysle boys drive away...I started to cry. Not because the movie manipulated me into it, but because those two women were real people, and I realized how much I'd come to love them.

And if you tell anyone what a sap I am, I'll knock you right under that god-damned bed.

Stephanie

I too got to see it on the big screen, which I'm really thankful for.

And I have to agree with you about seeing the doc first and loving it before you see this movie. Part of the brilliance in this movie is how well they recreated scenes from the doc and how amazing the actors were in their speech and mannerisms. Without having seen the doc, about 70% of the greatness of the film goes over your head. I dragged my boyfriend to see it at the theater on my birthday, and he just didn't get it. It depressed him. And I understand the depression, but if you've seen the doc already you can get past that in a way and enjoy how masterful all the other elements of the film were.

David

I don't know how many people watched all the way through the credits, but there was a great voice over by Drew Barrymore at the very end, doing her Edie impersonation: "No animals were harmed during the making of THIS movie!"

Stacey

Thanks for the fantastic review. I watched this the other night and wanted to do a piece on it for Pajiba, but couldn't articulate exactly why I loved it so much. The biggest shame was that this was an HBO movie. This film fully deserved a major box office release.

emily

I really thought Drew Barrymore was amazing, and, quite frankly, never in a million years did I expect those words to come out of my mouth. Major kudos on the accent and, overall, for giving such a loving, respectful, nuanced, funny portrayal of Little Edie. (However, I hate age make-up. Even at its best it looks ridiculous.)

I agree that somewhere Little Edie thinks the whole thing is just divine.

John-John

You know, when i was a kid..i remember seeing them on tv and thinking they were crazy. But after seeing the movie, I understand. You have to be a little eccentric to deal with all the stuff they had to deal with.

Sara

Rich-I don't know which is more awful- that you took 5 days to review Grey Gardens 2009 or that I was waiting with baited breath for you to.

You summed it up so well-at first the movie took some of the "shine" off the documentary, but I realized that it was almost as if the women had been living their entire lives up to that point to become the most perfect documentary subjects.

Huzzah.

StickyKeys

God bless you Rich, I was hoping I wasn't nagging by harassing you to write something about this ;)

I'd briefly saw the docu years ago, but after watching the movie was so enthralled I had to watch it again. I am completely enamoured by these women. That sense of absolute glee at their humour and wit and fancifulness, coupled with a sense of gloom for their break from reality.

One thing the movie did kind of leave out is that the women were not completely alone. One man even stayed around for close to ten years. I think that fact added to the sadness. I also noticed that a lot of Edie's dramatic regret was left out, but I was actually okay with that.

Love it.

Also, I think Lil Edie had a great ending. She had fans and got to perform in Reno, and swam every day. There's a bit at the end of the documentary that has a call between one of the Maysles and Edie in 2002 (? maybe before?) and Edie proclaims she was always so in love with him and wanted to marry him. It was bittersweet, but still very much Edie.

THIS MOVIE HAS CHANGED MY LIFE! I AM ABSOLUTELY PULVERIZED BY THIS LATEST THING! ;) I'll go now, thanks for the write-up.

Jackie

Horray for the good review!

I was hoping you would like the new movie. The only reason I even know about the original "Grey Gardens" after reading your blog and you mentioning it so many times, that I Netflixed it. This was a few years ago. And when I saw the new "Grey Gardens" Ive been waiting, waiting, waiting for you to mention it.

My favorite scene was Edie talking about her "costume" and the skirt. I was glad to see that re-done for the new version, as well as the odd exchange of glances, behind the camera.

cassie

I haven't seen the HBO film yet, but I have to be honest: I want to hate it.
I'm protective of my Beales and I can't call myself a fan of Drew Barrymore. But after reading this blog over the years, and generally agreeing with your critiques, I have a terrible feeling it's probably worth watching. Damn it.

Courtie

I feel weird about this, b/c everyone loved this movie so much.
I am a huge fan of both the original Grey Gardens and The Beales of Grey Gardens, and I liked the movie, but I was very disappointed with Drew Barrymore's portrayal of Little Edie. It was -- the best way I can articulate it is to call it thin. The voice was there, the mannerisms were there, but it wasn't all-encompassing like Jessica Lange's. Drew isn't a very good actress, and this is better than some of her performances, but I don't know...I liked it okay.

arnold

Have you seen the musical? It's actually not very good.

Heard great things about this movie though. Your review just gave me the final push to actually see it.

Lex

I LOVE the documentary, and overall enjoyed this film much more than I thought I would. I agree that if you aren't already an Edies superfan, this version may not be as interesting. One big critique though - where was Jerry?!

nene

I've been obsessed about 1975's "Grey Gardens" for almost a week (I've seen it 5 times now, plus "The Beales of Grey Gardens" and the HBO movie - I do think Drew Barrymore could have captured Little Edie better. Jessica Lange was amazing) and it's all thanks to you, my darling Rich! This movie is a masterpiece and it touched my heart in a way I never thought it would. It is so much more than a documentary. Thank you so much for bringing the fenomenal Edies into my life.

CJ

HBO Canada aired the movie, then the doc right after. During the doc, I saw the clip from the "my hero" part of your site (which I had looked at several times and pondered who that odd-looking woman in the headscarf was).

I watched the movie twice today while packing my house for a move, and I loved it, loved the doc, loved loved both. As an above poster said, I'm not sure Little Edie had a super happy ending but regardless, the movie was amazing (how great did Barrymore get the voice?!).


Loved it all. I'll watch it over and over, no matter how often HBO Canada airs it.

Kane

I have not seen the documentary, but my mother is enough of a Camelot camp-lover that I knew all about it from an early age.

I loved the HBO film, and I hope it does for Drew Barrymore what Introducing Dorothy Dandridge did for Halle Berry: give a pretty gal with a lightweight reputation a measure of artistic credibility for her labor of love.

I'm not sure why people had such low expectations of Drew. She understands camp, she understands crazy, and who else could play Little Edie with such wide-eyed hope and such confused sadness but the last surviving star of an Old Hollywood dynasty who went through rehab before going through puberty?

And, as my mother and I (now victorious roommates following her divorce) have faced the mental illness demons of depression, agoraphobia, anxiety, hoarding, isolation, and the nearly terminal condition of Never Getting Out of The Rut Into Which You Skidded, watching this film was like a fascinating, deeply sad horror movie where I saw all the mechanisms fall into place like tumblers in a lock. To watch Little Edie's face when she is first forced to return home and she sees her mother's mess was heartbreaking.

I know precisely what it is like to be so engulfed in interior misery that you become blind to the disarray (or even squalor) around you. It's an easier line to cross than most people imagine.

Little Edie's comment about how hard it can be so sort the past from the present broke every part of my heart, because I've seen that happen to someone who had basically given up and become isolated in her own head.

I think it was important for me on a personal level to see this film before the documentary. It sounds like the documentary isolates a specific time in the Beales' lives, and since they seem like unreliable narrators, it is never clear if they were always unwell or if things were once some semblance of normal. I think the documentary sounds like it would have been too frustrating and not as kind.

My mother and I are quite proud of the fact that we are both keeping the (increasingly aggressive) raccoons at bay. Those fuckers keep trying to carry off the heavy bin of birdseed.

Monica C.

Rich, thank you! Were it not for you, I might have never found the documentary (although I do find (and love) some very obscure ones). This film really brought the documentary to life in an amazing way. I loved seeing how these women got to where they were when the documentary was filmed. This movie also provided great insight as to why the women would agree to making to documentary to begin with (and it wasn't because they were just crazy, or being exploited, as some suggested upon the documentary's release).

I thought Drew B. did a great job of portraying Little Edie. Little Edie's natural personality was rather flat - at least in her voice and tone - so maybe that's what's bothering some. I'm just glad that, for once, perhaps I will have seen one of the Oscar-favorited movies!

Jocasta Rashid

"But even more than the little winks this movie gives fans, I love that Little Edie gets a happy ending...and then a happier one. To know little Edie is to know why this is crucial. If you don't get that, well, you wouldn't understand: it's a Grey Gardens thing."

If you love Big Edie, too, well, then you might feel a lot differently about the HBO movie...at one point it became glaringly clear that the director was some kind of bourgeoisie homosexual with "mother" issues...a Mommy Dearest fanatic or something.

It's sad how that filmmaker saw The Great Singer Big Edith Bouvier Beale...

It's also sad how the film refused to entertain the possibility that Little Edie was such a mess that she had to go back home. There's enough information in both Maysles' films to safely assume Little Edie had at least one "episode" (which, clinically, one would call it, I don't know).

I always thought it was pretty obvious watching the first Grey Gardens that Little Edie was never really going to audition for Max Gordon. Besides, Big Edie makes more than one mention the Traphagen...so much of this film was presented from Little Edie's fantasy life as if it were truth/history/fact. And that's a shame. really. To all parties...

Tbtsetoc

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Buster

You'll be pleased to know that the film has garnered 17 Emmy nominations!

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