Rent Grey Gardens (1976)

3.6 of 5 from 135 ratings
1h 34min
Rent Grey Gardens Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Meet Big and Little Edie Beale: mother and daughter, high-society dropouts, and reclusive cousins of Jackie Onassis. The two manage to thrive together amid the decay and disorder of their East Hampton, New York, mansion, making for an eerily ramshackle echo of the American Camelot. An impossibly intimate portrait, this 1976 documentary by Albert and David Maysles, codirected by Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, quickly became a cult classic and established Little Edie as a fashion icon and philosopher queen.
, , Brooks Hyers, Jack Helmuth, , , Jerry Torre,
Ellen Hovde, , , Muffie Meyer
Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Kim Hendrickson, Tanja Meding
Voiced By:
Norman Vincent Peale
Classics, Documentary, Special Interest
Release Date:
Run Time:
94 minutes
English Hard of Hearing
DVD Regions:
Region 0 (All)
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
  • Original Theatrical and TV Trailers
  • Albert Maysles On Grey Gardens: An exclusive new interview filmed in 2006 (32 min)
  • Jerry's Cab: Albert finds 'the Marble Faun' driving a New York taxi, 2005 (10 min)
  • Past And Present: Albert and 'the Marble Faun' revisit Grey Gardens, 2005 (10 min)
Release Date:
Run Time:
94 minutes
  • Audio commentary for Grey Gardens, featuring Maysles, codirectors Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, and associate producer Susan Froemke
  • Introduction to 'The Beales of Grey Gardens' by Maysles (2006)
  • Audio excerpts from a 1976 interview with Little Edie Beale
  • Interviews with fashion designers Todd Oldham and John Bartlett on the continuing influence of Grey Gardens
  • Behind the Scenes Photographs
  • Trailers
  • An essay by critic Hilton Als

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Reviews (1) of Grey Gardens

People Are Strange - Grey Gardens review by Count Otto Black

Spoiler Alert

If it was fiction, this movie would be camp grotesquery along the lines of "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?" or "Sunset Boulevard", and perhaps very good indeed. But since it's a documentary, it's a "cult classic", meaning that most viewers won't enjoy it much, unless they're the sort of kidult who deliberately watches bad films ironically.

This glimpse into the extremely limited lives of two half-mad recluses who happen to be the aunt and cousin of one of the richest and most famous women in the world, yet deliberately live in disgusting squalor in a fast-disintegrating 28-room beachfront mansion, exerts a kind of horrible fascination, and might be of great interest to psychiatrists, but in the end, what's the point? The most dramatic event in the story - the health department forcibly cleaning the ground floor with fire-hoses - happened a year before the camera crew arrived, and everything else of real interest occurred even longer ago, so what we get is two extremely self-centered poor little old rich girls locked into a very unhealthy relationship talking, shouting and singing at each other almost constantly, mostly at the same time.

By the way, the squalor really is disgusting. Their eight scrawny flea-ridden cats are neither allowed out of the house nor provided with litter trays, but that's OK because Edith Senior likes the smell. Little Edie doesn't, and repeatedly says she wants to get out of this place, where she's apparently been trapped for a decade. But come on lady, you were already middle-aged when you let your loopy miser of a mother persuade you to live with her as a social outcast in the world's biggest cat lavatory! How did these women who once partied with the world's élite, and have relatives who still do, get this way? And why have the rest of their mega-rich family given up on them so completely for so long? A story like this needs lots of background, but we get none at all except what the two women provide, and they almost always contradict each other, usually while the other is still talking.

I suppose you could view this as the bittersweet tale of a symbiotic relationship between an aging control-freak and the only person she can still control, her spoilt daughter who at the age of 56 behaves like an adolescent because she never learned how to take responsibility for anything including herself. But for that to really work, you'd need dialogue by somebody like Samuel Beckett or Harold Pinter, instead of letting these not particularly bright and very loud crazy cat-ladies improvise for an hour and a half. Well before the end I felt they'd made their own bed and thoroughly deserved to lie in it, feline by-products and all.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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