Grey Gardens (1976)

Forty-four years ago today, the film Grey Gardens premiered at the New York Film Fest. This is one of my very favorite documentaries. So much so that I just don’t trust anyone that hasn’t seen it. It is life-changing, life-affirming, and just plain beautiful. There are so many quotes that you can use in your everyday life, I suggest stitching them on a pillow. It’s almost always available on one of the streaming services, it’s easy to pop in and watch a bit of it now and then.

Directed by: David Maysles, Albert Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer
Produced by: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Susan Froemke (associate producer)
Starring: Edith “Big Edie” Ewing Bouvier Beale, Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale
Cinematography: Albert Maysles, David Maysles
Edited by: Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer, Susan Froemke
Production company: Portrait Films
Distributed by: Portrait Films
Release date: September 27, 1975 (NYFF), February 19, 1976 (United States)
Running time: 95 minutes
Box office: $36,923

This is the best thing to wear for today, you understand. Because I don’t like women in skirts and the best thing is to wear pantyhose or some pants under a short skirt, I think. Then you have the pants under the skirt and then you can pull the stockings up over the pants underneath the skirt. And you can always take off the skirt and use it as a cape. So I think this is the best costume for today.

Grey Gardens is a 1975 American documentary film by Albert and David Maysles. The film depicts the everyday lives of two reclusive, formerly upper class women, a mother and daughter both named Edith Beale, who lived in poverty at Grey Gardens, a derelict mansion at 3 West End Road in the wealthy Georgica Pond neighborhood of East Hampton, New York. The film was screened at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival but was not entered into the main competition.

Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer also directed, and Susan Froemke was the associate producer. The film’s editors are credited as Hovde (who also edited Gimme Shelter and Salesman), Meyer and Froemke.

In 2010, the film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. In a 2014 Sight and Sound poll, film critics voted Grey Gardens the joint ninth best documentary film of all time.

But you see in dealing with me, the relatives didn’t know that they were dealing with a staunch character and I tell you if there’s anything worse than dealing with a staunch woman… S-T-A-U-N-C-H. There’s nothing worse, I’m telling you. They don’t weaken, no matter what.

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