I suppose a lot of us have been waiting to see HBO's GREY GARDEN'S. Frankly I was disappointed after watching the documentary and seeing the wonderful musical on Broadway and falling in love with the Beale women and their hideous house, the zillion cats, the raccoons and their singing and Little Eddie's erratic dancing 'just for her own pleasure'.

The fashions were incredible. Little Eddie and her towels over her head clasped by Cartier brooches...she sat the paradigm for unique and individual using 'found items'

I would have even put on the flea collar around my ankle should I have had the privilege of visiting Grey Gardens.

Seriously the love story between this Mother and Daughter transcends logic and reason and defines the ethereal.

Here's some pictures from 'their book'.


paul said...

Hello Courtney,

Thanks for these pictures! I saw the Maysles Brothers "Grey Gardens" for the first time last week. It instantly became one of my favourite films... it's more poetry than documentary, dream-like, mesmerizing and moving. I'm a fan of their "Gimme Shelter" so heaven knows how I passed it by until now.

Got hold of the follow up "The Beales of Grey Gardens" yesterday... have you seen it? It's another hour and a half of footage unused in the original film, almost equally essential! There is much more of the flirtatious dance between Edie and the Maysles, with the camera as the go-between.

I gather you've moved in some rarified circles... did they ever overlap those of Big and Little Edie?

courtney said...

Unfortunately, no - butI would have loved had they overlapped as I think I would have enjoyed their altered perception of life.

In fact, I've never been to the Hamptons at all -
Paul thanks, I'll look up the the "Beales of Grey Gardens" - what a magical talent the Maysles' had - to take what would have been a laughable, camp subject and turn it into a love story.

Through the camera I can see them falling in love with the Beale women - even though it is 'candid' it has an elusive, beautiful quality.

There is no pity. There is no judgement. There is no excuses or rationales for how and why these women lived this way but for whatever reason you understand all the above - subtlely.

I don't think the HBO movie had that same 'bent'.

I used to frequent Reno Sweeney's in NYC and I wish I had been there to see Little Edie as it was a small intimate venue where the perfomer had domain but eye contact with the audience.

Thanks for stopping by, Paul - do you have a blog? If so, then link me.

paul said...

Yeah, their "altered perception"... I've always had a fascination (if not an affinity!) with outsiders/transgressors but usually it's those from "the wrong side of the tracks" - people who are rarely privileged with choices rather than those born into opportunity, but I too fell in love with Little Edie. There still seems a little mystery to what seemed a fairly sudden retreat into those walls.

You're dead right about the unblinking but respectful (loving) nature of the Maysles' camera - eye. They don't pretend they are actual flies on walls (acknowledging their presence with shots of themselves in mirrors and so on) but give their subject room to breathe and play and live... you can tell I'm still reeling from these films!

I'm reluctant to see the HBO thing now... don't wanna wake from the dream!

Don't have a blog but we're fellow followers of TOTLB and probably other related sites!


paul said...


If only it had been the Maysles and not Hendrickson!

courtney said...

Wouldn't that have been the kewl, kewl, definative documentary on Manson!

I saw "Inside the Manson Gang" or whatever it is called on Brian Davis' website - I'll find the link - it was free -

It lacks the complexity and paradoxical side of the story. The interest that I have is in the dicotomy of 'what was a cute chick like you doing in a flea bitten place like that'...

I would love to see what was edited out of that one -

The girls I've always been most interested in - the marginal characters like RuthAnn, Dianne, etc. are not even seen - except for a few nude shots -

We all know how the crazies felt and acted - but what brought the sad little girls that weren't sociopaths to stay with a group like that is the 'root of the root of the tree of life' (I borrow that phrase from ee cummings.

Don't see the HBO movie on the Beales - you will be as disappointed as I -

However the Broadway play was magnifient -

paul said...

I've seen 'Manson' (which is on B.D.'s site). From what I gather 'Inside the Manson Gang' is mostly the unused footage unfortunateIy overlaid with a "My descent into the Heart of Darkness" style cornball voiceover. Then again, I've only seen the trailer as both DVDs are only available within the U.S. He has such fantastic, unique historical footage that he's essentially just sat on for almost 40 years and all he can do is run around threatening people who share his stuff because they can't buy it, whilst banging on about "Rag-heads" (yep, he uses that phrase on his site!) stealing his art! Ferchrissakes Robert! Charge whatever you think you can get, but it's your duty to make it available, you could be making money!!

Uh, rant over!

As to the presence of those girls, I think that ennui; boredom intense enough to lead to violent depression is an underrated factor. That, combined with the modish and almost certainly erroneous notion that "everything is possible" and a swashbuckling philosopher-outlaw figurehead... well...


"If rape, poison, daggers, arson
Have not yet embroidered with their pleasing designs
The banal canvas of our pitiable lives,
It is because our souls have not enough boldness.
But among the jackals, the panthers, the bitch hounds,
The apes, the scorpions, the vultures, the serpents,
The yelping, howling, growling, crawling monsters,
In the filthy menagerie of our vices,
There is one more ugly, more wicked, more filthy!
Although he makes neither great gestures nor great cries,
He would willingly make of the earth a shambles
And, in a yawn, swallow the world;
He is Ennui! — His eye watery as though with tears,
He dreams of scaffolds as he smokes his hookah pipe.
You know him reader, that refined monster,
— Hypocritish reader, — my fellow, — my brother!

Oh yeah, I found this, an audience with Al Maysles, including extensive clips from their early Capote film:


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