Now, there's an Off-Broadway musical based on the film. Here's the NYT piece on it, which includes a photograph that should hearten the film's devotees:
That really captures the mood well, doesn't it? From the article:
"Grey Gardens" also developed a following among people, gay men especially, who responded both to the implicit campiness of the film — two faded old biddies, preening and bickering and singing Cole Porter tunes in lah-dee-dah accents — and to the women's eccentricity, originality and uncompromising independence. The two Edies, a cross between the Collyer brothers and Miss Havisham and Estella, are a bizarre version of the American family but ultimately an affectionate and mutually sustaining one. Their admirers include numbers of men who love to watch the film while dressed in drag and reciting the dialogue from memory.Dressed in drag? Well, presumaby you are wearing the skirt on you head, right? It's the perfect costume for the day.
Even before seeing the musical, some of the diehards are charging sacrilege. Scott Frankel, who was the prime mover behind this production of "Grey Gardens" and wrote the music for it, has been accosted on the street by outraged fans of the film saying "How could you!" Doug Wright, who wrote the book for the musical, said recently: "It's like adapting the Bible. You do feel a certain responsibility."...It will be interesting to see how that works. One of the great charms of the film is the way you discover the past, at surprising little moments, like when the camera shows a beautiful oil portrait of Big Edie, who is laughing about how the cat is "enjoying" itself by pissing behind it.
... Mr. Frankel called in Mr. Wright, a Yale classmate and the author of both the movie "Quills" and the Pulitzer Prize-winning play "I Am My Own Wife." Mr. Wright told him he was nuts. "I said I adored the movie, but what you have in mind can't be done," he recalled. "How can you have a two-act musical where nothing happens? It wasn't until they came to me with the tablecloth that I realized there could be a narrative shape."
The tablecloth — a paper one, from Ernie's restaurant on the Upper West Side — was the handiwork of Mr. Frankel and Mr. Korie, who wrote the libretto for "Harvey Milk," among other operas, and who was starting to think about lyrics for the show. It had two boxes drawn on it, one labeled 1941 and the other 1973, depicting the solution the two men had arrived over dinner in the fall of 2003: to create an entire first act set in the past, when Big Edie was in her prime and Little Edie was known in debutante circles as Body Beautiful Beale, and a second set in the actual period of the film.
"We had been playing with the idea of flashbacks, but that just seemed like 'Follies,' " Mr. Frankel recalled. "But then we began thinking about what really happened. What if we saw what life was like at Grey Gardens before it became this hothouse terrarium?"
Do we understand from the musical any more than from the film what brought these women to this condition?
"I kept trying to get a clinical fix on them," Mr. Frankel said, "and my allegiances kept shifting. At first I thought Big Edie was a narcissist who created a sort of bohemian salon for herself at Grey Gardens, and didn't equip her daughter to live an independent, creative life. But then I began to wonder whether Little Edie was ever equipped to deal with the world. Was she mentally compromised? She knows what she should do, and yet she doesn't seem able to make it happen. So maybe Big Edie was in fact providing a safe haven for a daughter who couldn't manage in the world. We kept looking at it as an 'or' proposition, but through talking to Albert we came to see it as an 'and' proposition."Have you figured it out?
Here's the piece NPR ran this morning, which gives you a chance to hear some of the music. The photo at the NPR page, unlike the photo above, is worrisome for a "Grey Gardens" devotee.
Oh, and apparently, we're about to get a "Grey Gardens" movie too. With Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange!