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bansi4

"Grey Gardens"

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"Grey Gardens" (1975), is a riveting documentary.

 

Mother and daughter living together in their decaying 28 room East Hampton mansion add a whole new meaning to the term "Shabby Chic".

With innumerable cats, raccoons and opossums as roommates this Aunt and Niece of Jackie O. allowed filmmakers into their mansion to film them living life day to day.

The result was a hilarious, beautiful, sad and moving account of true love and anarchy rule.

 

Both mother and daughter have since passed away.

 

Thank you TCM for another enlightening experience.

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Let's face it, folks. This "documentary" is nothing but crap. It looks like it was made by a first-year film student. It is not interesting.

 

If they want to run documentaries, try "The River" or "Why We Fight" or "The Louisiana Story" or "Triumph of the Will" or "Olympiad" or anything but this.

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Well...it's different. I'll give it that.

 

Some of my fave suggestions for documentaries from recent years are Winged Migration, Murderball, Born Into Brothels, Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, Murder On A Sunday Morning, Harlan County USA, Who Are The Debolts? and Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids, Touching the Void, Capturing the Friedmans, Grizzly Man, March of the Penguins, and the magnificent The Fog of War by Errol Morris.

 

Okay, maybe I watch too many docs...

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Mongo -

I whole-heartedly agree with your assessment.

 

I will be forever indebted to TCM for bringing this film to the general public. I have never been so enthralled with the lives of two women as I was this evening. How lucky the Maysles were allowed to into their world as they were determined to keep the outside world from entering their home.

 

And they were wickedly funny. When Big Edie, lamenting Little Edie's refusals of marriage, said "France fell to the Nazis. France fell but [Little] Edie would not fall.", I could not stop laughing for five minutes. I will be hearing that line for years to come. That line and "The Marble Faun is moving in."

 

This film is a textbook of unscripted non-fiction filmaking. It differs greatly from a written documentary and shouldn't be compared to films that stage action or are written as a historical or a persuasion/propaganda piece. And TCM did show "The River" in the past year as part of an evening of films about the Mississippi (if that is "the River" one is referring to) and has shown both Reifenstaler (sp?) films in the past also.

 

I am left to wonder how much their lives may have been different when the Maylses weren't around. Little Edie obviously was performing for the camera during much of the film. But, as someone who wanted to be a performer, this was her 'big chance'. Can't fault her for taking advantage of it.

 

This was tied to the Broadway opening of the musical and I think it will be a great enhancement to getting people in the Walter Kerr Theater's seats. I think it was important that potential theatergoers see the film first and I am so glad TCM gave the producers that opportunity tonight because I had a great time even though I won't be in NYC anytime soon to catch the show.

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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I couldn't sit through 15 minutes of it. The only reason these women were being filmed was because of being related to Jackie O. Absolutely nothing else of interest about them. We get it, they're eccentric. So are lots of other people.

 

And I'm a semi-**** obsessive compulsive who has to finish what I start, but it wasn't happening this time!.............LOL

 

Message was edited by:

bradtexasranger

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I laughed, I cried. Mostly I laughed. I agree, "The Marble faun is moving in" was a great line. I'm not sure what the purpose was for having this on TCM (promotion, education, entertainment, warning to future crazy cat ladies and wearers of turbans) or if TCM was the place to show it, but I found it darkly hilarious and got a huge kick out of it!

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"Well...it's different. I'll give it that."

 

Thats just it, silentfan. With all the crap going on in the world, it was a change of pace from documentaries about war, Nazi's, pedophiles, strikes, murder, prostitution, poverty, etc.

Although your list of films are of high standard.

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Albert Maysles quote about the Beales in the LATimes Sun29Oct -

"They couldn't be Bouviers and be themselves. But they could be recluses and be themselves. And they could be themselves in front of our cameras. I think that is why it's such an extraordinary experience for some people."

 

Very true.

 

and as an addendum from the LATimes article -

While (Little) Edie talked fondly of her mother during the more than two decades she survived her, one of her last wishes was that she not be buried next to her

 

Kyle In Hollywood

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I enjoyed watching it while I was getting ready for work and will watch it again to give it more attention. I don't like documentaries as a rule, like the ones Fred mentioned and I wouldn't want to see any of those show up on TCM but this is something different (non-Doc) . Only TCM or PBS would have something like this on, no other channel would give something as unique as this air-play because it doesn't have mass appeal.

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I was a fascinated by "Grey Gardens" this time as I was the first time I saw it. I think people who were expecting a conventional documentary may have been confused.

 

"Grey Gardens" is *not* a documentary -- it is a non-fiction film. We saw a great many such excellent films in the 60s, and those who are not used to them might not have enjoyed this one, since it is not an informational film, and not a scripted film, but something else. The whole point of these films is the lack of narrative comment -- the subjects speak volumes by just being themselves. The fact that these two women are "Bouvier Beales" becomes incidental to their charm (on again, off again as it may be), their articulateness, their interesting histories, and the amazingly eccentric way they lived.

 

When I first saw this in the 70s, I was so saddened by Little Edie's tale of how her mother thwarted her chance to get married. Last night I recognized that perhaps Little Edie's bizarre behavior had very likely evidenced itself many years before, and maybe Big Edie was trying to prevent a marriage that might have erupted into a huge scandal and/or a terrible ordeal for her daughter and herself. Those are conclusions we are left to draw for ourselves.

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mongo,

 

I noticed during the "Grey Gardens" intro credits the same production team made the 1970 documentary "Gimme Shelter".

 

mongo...have you watched "Gimme Shelter"? If you have watched the thing, please...your opinion of "Gimme Shelter"?

 

While I am here, here is my "take" regarding "Gimme Shelter". I know Mick Jagger and the rest of the Rolling Stones enjoyed playing up their bad boy image, but "Gimme Shelter" made the Stones look bad. And I mean bad in a not good way. I cannot for the life of me, understand why the Rolling Stones allowed the movie (in particular, the footage of Jagger and other Stones watching the footage of their Altamont concert) to be released to the public.

 

While I am here, my "take" regarding "Grey Gardens"...one Beale was crazy, the other Beale was not crazy.

 

I see the same production group made a documentary about the artist Christo. I just looked up the Maysles brothers on IMDB. Man, I think Christo is a heroic person. Also, Christo is one of the great artists working today. I think I will search out and try to find the Maysles' Christo documentary.

 

Rusty

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I'm with ya jarhfive, Gimme Shelter is like the dark slithery underbelly of Woodstock and Monterey Pop. Necessary viewing for all music fans. Keith Richards is like a Timex watch, takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'.

 

You know what I'd just love TCM to show? Apted's Up Series - oh boy, do I love these! The latest one is coming out on November 14th and my video rental store has double and triple promised me they'd hold a copy for me, bless their hearts. I think they would fit in with the TCM aesthetic, and it's film making of the highest order.

 

Mongo, thought up a few more for you - Hearts and Minds, The Sorrow and the Pity (which TCM has shown), Gates of Heaven, Buena Vista Social Club, 4 Little Girls, Paris Is Burning (I see this on the Logo channel from time to time), Brother's Keeper, and don't forget Hoop Dreams, or essential for any film lover Z Channel - A Magnificent Obsession.

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Jarhfive, I found "Gimme Shelter" to be a harrowing documentary, although it is a truly fascinating piece that unfolds with a consistent, unsettling sense of dread, even with the knowledge of what will occur. The film builds to the events at the Altamont Speedway, and ultimately becomes a palpable taste of the period for a modern audience, but for audiences in 1970 it represented more of a visualization of the cultural chaos that had engulfed the country.

 

Silentfan, I saw most of the documentaries that you listed. And "Brother's Keeper" is a disturbing film.

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I saw Grey Gardens last night and I was appalled.

This was nothing but exploitation. I think from the

film crew all the way to the top. I'm very upset with the media today, the news shows the whole nine yards, no privacy for anyone, no respect at all. I just had to say something. Those women wouldn't have been of interest to any one, but carrying the Beale-Bouvier name, that did it. Shame on the entertainment industry!

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Hi Shotsie,

 

I'm not sure.

 

But when I want to post a message to everyone in general, I usually start off by saying:

 

Everyone:

 

or

 

Hi All:

 

Or something like that.

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> Excuse me I'm new at this, how do you post a message without having to reply to one person's comment?

 

Hi, Shotsie, welcome to the boards. Just click on the "Reply to this Thread" link at the top.

 

If you're trying to start a new thread go to the Forum Home, select the catagory you wish to start in (General Discussions, Hot Topics, Technical Issues, Genre Forums, etc.) and once there click "Post New Thread" link at the top.

 

Good luck.

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Am I the only one who saw the younger Edie as mentally unstable and mistreating her mother in a way that would today be called elder abuse?

 

Surprising that Mr. Osborne did not address mental illness at all.

 

Watching people living in extreme filth is not appealing film-making. It's just sad that society could not help these women.

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> Am I the only one who saw the younger Edie as

> mentally unstable and mistreating her mother in a way

> that would today be called elder abuse?

>

> Surprising that Mr. Osborne did not address mental

> illness at all.

>

> Watching people living in extreme filth is not

> appealing film-making. It's just sad that society

> could not help these women.

 

No, you're not alone. It was evident to me that Little Edie was living in some sort of dream world - she was very immature, and certainly not very realistic in her aspirations. As I mentioned in a post below, perhaps Big Edie thought she was protecting her daughter from institutionalization and scandal by isolating her. I didn't get the sense that Little Edie was in any way in control of the situation. Big Edie may have been just as disturbed at that point, but I really did not get the sense that either woman was living as they did against her will.

 

As I learned when trying to deal with my elderly and very difficult mother, it isn't so easy to "help" people who refuse to be helped. Forcing people, especially non-minors, to be cared for against their wills does't just happen without a struggle, and in most cases isn't even legal. Even as recently as the time this film was shot, people did not discuss their problems outside the family, and even within the family, scandal was to be avoided, if possible. It's a measure of the mental disturbance of the Beales that they consented to participate in this film while at the same time having no intention of changing their lifestyle. I don't think it was a cry for help on their part as much as it was a cry for attention from two wealthy, spoiled women who were used to being the center of attention, but had lost touch with reality.

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Judith, that was a profound response regarding the ladies of "Grey Gardens".

I would imagine that Little Edie was a looker in her day (great legs). It's just too bad that she didn't marry and settle down.

One wonders if the mother was protective of Little Edie, or just being selfish in keeping her by her side?

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matinee,

 

Quote:

"Am I the only one who saw the younger Edie as mentally unstable and mistreating her mother in a way that would today be called elder abuse?"

 

I agree with your opinion of the younger Beale appearing mentally unstable. On the other hand, grabbing a few minutes of two peoples lives for public airing (the Grey Gardens documentary) is not enough information for this viewer to say if the younger Beale was abusing the older Beale. I do think it was irresponsible for the daughter to allow mom to cook meals on her bed.

 

One thing I saw in "Grey Gardens" I know will stay with me for the rest of my life is the wonderful portrait of the older Beale. The expression of Ms. Beale in the painting was truly remarkable and the artist captured her mood perfectly. I cannot put into words the emotion of the portrait...a remarkable work of art.

 

Rusty

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Thank God for a documentary that "merely" makes us think, feel, laugh, cry, and reflect and DIDN'T beat us over the head with some heavy-handed (usually far left/Michael Moore-type) political message; sheesh!!! This was awesome, I taped it, I'll watch it again, and I applaud TCM with both hands and stomp both feet on the floor besides for showing this (okay, they were hawking the Broadway play, but any excuse to see a documentary works for me). I, too, have watched with rapt wonder the Seven-Up series, Winged Migration, Spellbound, Grizzly Man, Supersize Me, Born Into Brothels... Essentially, as I like to say, I'd watch a documentary on paint drying; it'd be more entertaining and enlightening than most of the junk they make today... But this ranks right up there; these women rock. Too many are zombie-like conformists; how refreshing to see true individualists!!!

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I agree, otter. The fact that we are debating the pros and cons of this film and its subjects shows that the filmakers were successful. This is exactly the reaction that non-fiction filmakers intend for us to have.

 

Further on the Little/Big Edie - Big Edie would certainly have been used to being the Queen Bee, and to ordering her staff around. Without a staff, the only one left to be ordered about was Little Edie, and it didn't seem to me that Little Edie really minded that role. I think we had here a classic case of "co-dependency." That term has gone out of style somewhat, but I think it's apt here. As for all the mess, and cooking in bed, eating strange foods, etc. -- these women were used to doing whatever they hell they wanted, and if doing things this way was the easiest thing to do without legions of servants to wait on them, by gum they were going to do it just like that.

 

I was also thinking about the shows on the H&G and other networks about organizing your home, and how one of the organizers always points out that a disorganized living environment indicates much deeper troubles that just laziness or procrastination. "Grey Gardens" is surely a testament to that thesis.

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