Little Edie: Mother, you don't have enough clothes on.
Big Edie: Well, I'm going to get naked in just a minute, so you better watch out.
Little Edie: That's what I'm afraid of.
Big Edie: Yeah, for what, now why? I haven't got any warts on me.
Little Edie: But the movie, the movie!
Big Edie: I haven't got any warts on me!
Little Edie: That isn't the point, mother darling.
Grey Gardens is a 1975 Documentary
focusing on two eccentric East Hampton recluses, near-bedridden Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale
("Big Edie"), and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale
, (known as "Little Edie") as they live their lives in their decaying mansion. The duo were the respective aunt and first cousin of former U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
, and rubbed elbows with America's elite before their fall from grace
, losing their fortune and ending up with only themselves and the house to hold onto.
Once a stately society home, Grey Gardens is now crumbling, full of garbage
, deprived of running water and infested with cats, raccoons and countless fleas, having been left totally neglected by the residents for well over 30 years.
Both Big and Little Edie were delighted to be the subject of Albert and David Maysles' film, which is made up of the two telling anecdotes about their unusual lives, performing for the camera, giving their opinions on various topics and going about their daily routines- be it putting together an outfit from random bits and pieces found around the house
, or tipping a bag of stale Wonderbread out on the floor for the raccoons.
The resulting film is strangely haunting, camp, funny and sad all at once.
As a result of its cult status, an HBO film of the Beale's lives was made, starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. A Broadway musical of the same name also opened in 2006, winning a Tony award.
Grey Gardens contains examples of:
- Age-Inappropriate Dress: What, a swimsuit and fishnet tights isn't a respectable outfit for someone pushing 60?
- Bald Women: Little Edie, who always wears decorative scarves (sweaters or towels also do in a pinch) on her head.
- Blithe Spirit
- Blue Blood: The Beales come from one of the oldest, wealthiest families in America.
- The Care Taker: Little Edie, who came to look after her mother and the house when nobody else would.
- Christmas Cake: Little Edie.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Both ladies, but Little Edie in particular.
- Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder: Little Edie, despite being a Cloud Cuckoolander herself.
- Cool Old Ladies
- Crazy Cat Lady: Could be Ur Example. A lot of the fictional cat ladies in various works have been inspired by the Beales.
- Deadpan Snarker: Big Edie.
- Determinator: Big Edie's wish was to die in Grey Gardens, despite pressure to sell it due to lack of funds. She got her wish a year after the documentary was filmed.
- The Dutiful Daughter: Little Edie sees herself this way.
- Genki Girl: Little Edie, who has an astounding amount of vitality for a 57 year old.
- Kind Hearted Cat Lovers
- I Was Quite a Looker: Little Edie's society nickname was "Body Beautiful Beale", and looking at her old photos◊, it's easy to see why◊.
- Impoverished Patrician
- Living Emotional Crutch: Mother and daughter are this for each other.
- Maiden Aunt
- Man Child: Little Edie is childlike to the point of some people suspecting arrested development.
- Malaproper: Big Edie: "My body is a very precious place. It's concentrated ground. "
- My Beloved Smother: Big Edie. Any scenes Little Edie has on her own usually have her mother calling for her in the background.
- Old Maid: Little Edie, who has conflicting feelings about the matter.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Little Edie, who somehow makes it work for her. Her style has inspired collections from Dior, Galliano and many others.
- The Pig Pen: Big Edie in particular. Little Edie normally looks tidier and cleaner and keeps her side of their shared bedroom neater.
- Trash of the Titans: Grey Gardens itself. The way it appears in the documentary was after a massive clean up, and it still qualifies!
- Vitriolic Best Buds: For all their squabbling, they clearly adore one another.