grey gardens

I took a break from working on the case against Desert Moon this weekend to sit down with Linette and watch the Criterion Collection’s release of the 1975 documentary “Grey Gardens.” The film, if you haven’t heard of it, concerns the odd relationship between a mother and daughter (relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) who, although born to wealth and power, find themselves isolated and living like squatters inside a crumbling old mansion. It was thoroughly compelling.

From the minute we enter the house of Edie Bouvier Beale (pictured abover) and her mother, Big Edie, and the filthy room they share, we’re in a world that they’ve created. And, there’s a certain kind of madness – not an overt wiping poop on the walls madness, but a more subtle kind of madness, a What Ever Happened to Baby Jane “let’s sing and dance like we’re children” kind of madness. These are lovely, bright, articulate women… who happen to feed the raccoons that live in the walls of their home, and wear their clothes in ways they weren’t intended to be worn. (Little Edie, the daughter, wears her skirts upside down, and her sweaters wrapped around her shaved head. It’s absolutely inspired.) They aren’t just relatives of Jackie O who happen to be down on their luck, they’re visionary artists. There is clearly insanity to some degree, but the film doesn’t play on that. To its credit, the film never lets you forget that these women have dignity and live worthwhile lives. I was trying to think of how to describe it and the best I could come up with was this — It’s part Citizen Kane and part Tennessee Williams. It’s a story about wealth and sadness, about never following one’s dreams, about society and decay.

I could write about this all night, but I have other things I need to do. If you haven’t seen the film, please take my word for it and rent a copy, or, better, yet, order the “Grey Gardens” DVD from Amazon. (The commentary track is great.)

Seriously, don’t wait for the play

For those of you who have seen the film, I just had an idea for what I think might be a really good Crimewave article. I was thinking that it might be interesting to track down the young man who spends time at their house in the film, the one that Little Edie calls the Marble Faun, and interview him… I’d be really interested to hear what he has to say about the Edies and their tenure at Grey Gardens. (Grey Gardens is the name of the estate on Long Island where they lived.)

Oh, and speaking of Desert Moon, I just did the math and it seems as though they owe us in excess of $3,600. The more I think about this, the more pissed I am at myself for not demanding payment earlier. (They haven’t paid us a dime for either of the last two issues that we sent to them for distribution.)

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14 Comments

  1. Brian
    Posted January 31, 2005 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    What an odd post to find, considering I should be getting this movie in the mail tomorrow.

    I read about it a while ago, and it sounds amazing, and in an odd way, heartfelt.

  2. mark
    Posted January 31, 2005 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Leave a comment here and let me know how you like the film, Brian…

  3. Posted January 31, 2005 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    This movie is incredible. Debbie and I watched it over, and over, and over. We loved it. In fact, Todd Oldham – designer – said that this film influenced him a lot in his work… Worthwhile watch, for sure! They also have/had it at the Ypsilanti Public Library on Michigan…

  4. me
    Posted January 31, 2005 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    I found it very hard to watch, but could not stop. Kinda like playing with a bloody hang nail.

  5. Posted January 31, 2005 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    I will certainly have to get this soon.

  6. mark
    Posted January 31, 2005 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t had a chance to start my search for the Marble Faun yet. (I think his name was Jerry.) I’ll try to get on it later this week.

  7. todd
    Posted February 2, 2005 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    this movie is terrible and amazing and terribly amazing.

  8. dorothy
    Posted February 2, 2005 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    if you want to read about mother-daughter madness, try “the secret life of the lonely doll.” this is an absolutely riveting story of edie and dare wright who were both beautiful and talented, but lived the most peculiar lives imaginable.

  9. chris
    Posted February 2, 2005 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Alas, Grey Gardens was sold recently. Search NYT, interesting article. Apparently, the new owner’s had to gut most of the house due to the cat/otherwise urine soaked floorboards. I was kind of pissed to hear that it was altered from its original state, no pun intended.

  10. ILLSeaBass
    Posted November 9, 2005 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I watched GG last night for the first time and enjoyed it a lot. That has to be one of the most messed up Mother/Daughter relationships ever.. probably more common than we think. Is Edie still living? I know the mother died right after this movie was released..

  11. Drat Rampage
    Posted November 13, 2005 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    A friend recently lent me her cory of this film and while watching I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to Jerry a.k.a. “The Marble Faun”. So I “googled” and came up with your web site. Keep us informed on your investigations….

  12. mark
    Posted November 13, 2005 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Edie is dead. She died not too long ago. I think that she was living in Florida at the time… I’m not sure about the Marble Faun. I like that my site comes up when he’s googled. Perhaps one day that will lead him here. I’ll certainly let you know if he springs the trap.

  13. schutzman
    Posted January 23, 2009 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dcchelovek/542961288/

  14. Brackache
    Posted January 23, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Just today I was wondering, “what ever happened to schutzman?”

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