Say the words ‘Grey Gardens’ to a certain sub-section of the population and you’re almost guaranteed to elicit a Pavlovian response. Headscarves, (or cashmere sweaters) will be tied tightly around heads, skirts will be put on upside down, costume jewellery applied and one of a dozen quotes will be immediately forthcoming…
Our favourite at Balans Soho Society?
‘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.’
(Little Edie Bouvier)
The extraordinary story of 2 eccentric American women in their shambolic home in the Hamptons, the documentary ‘Grey Gardens’, made in 1975 by Albert and David Mayles, turned its stars, ‘Big’ and ‘Little’ Edie Bouvier into popular culture legends.
And now, look – they’re ba-a-ack!
‘That Summer’ is really a prequel to the making of ‘Grey Gardens’. In 1972, the photographer Peter Beard got the Bouvier’s permission to make a fly-on-the-wall film about their amazing, ramshackle lives and hired the Mayles brothers as the cameramen. Ultimately, Beard abandoned the project, leaving the Mayles to return some years later to make their own movie.
What’s left from the original footage is an hour of Big Edie and little Edie squabbling with each other and health officials threatening them with eviction from their health hazard of a home. Little Edie gives more of her defiant pronouncements, adding to her canon of inimitable quotations with lines like ‘I think any of us would be happy to have racoons who look upon us as friends’. It’s a glimpse of a completely other-worldly life and it’s amazing to discover that their old house still has other rooms left in which to poke about.
Essential viewing, ’That Summer’ is released on the 1st June.