The 1976 cinema vérité classic Grey Gardens, which captured in remarkable close-up the lives of the eccentric East Hampton recluses Big and Little Edie Beale, has spawned everything from a midnight-movie cult following to a Broadway musical, to an upcoming Hollywood adaptation. The filmmakers then went back to their vaults of footage to create part two, The Beales of Grey Gardens, a tribute both to these indomitable women and to the original landmark documentary’s legions of fans, who have made them American counterculture icons.
With his brother David, Albert Maysles became one of the chief exponents of the “direct cinema” school of documentary filmmaking. The brothers began working as a team in 1957, each having previously been involved in film in very different ways—Albert making a documentary on Soviet mental institutions and David working as production assistant on two Marilyn Monroe movies. The Maysles brothers designed their own portable equipment to help in their goal of capturing the raw, spontaneous flow of experience, without intruding into the situations being filmed and were influenced by Robert Drew and Richard Leacock, with whom they had worked on “Primary” (1960).
Born and raised in Massachusetts, this son of Russian Jewish immigrants developed a childhood interest in photography. After receiving his MA in psychology, Maysles traveled to Russia and shot photographs inside mental hospitals. Although he was unsuccessful in selling those pictures, he did manage to obtain a movie camera from… read more
Documentary filmmaker David Maysles and his brother, Albert Maysles, played important roles in the development of cinema verité, designing highly portable cameras and sound equipment that gave filmmakers minimal intrusion while documenting their subjects. Before teaming up with his brother in 1957, Maysles worked as a production assistant on two Marilyn Monroe features. The Maysles brothers formed their own production company in 1962 and went on to make many documentary films for both the big screen and television. Their best-known documentaries are Salesman (1969) and Gimme Shelter (1970); the latter was a disturbing, controversial chronicle of a Rolling Stones concert during which four people were killed by the Hell’s Angels hired by the band to keep fans off the stage. The Maysles captured one of those brutal murders on film, repeatedly showing it throughout the documentary. In 1974, David Maysles was nominated for an Academy Award for Valley Curtain, the first of three documentaries… read more
Loved seeing this extra footage. It left me with a newfound understanding of a certain human element that lied beneath the legendary personae that were established in the original film. This is the sort of project that only comes around once in an era... a wonderful work of cinema that serves an emblematic benchmark in the history of documentary filmmaking...