Albert and David Maysles, who directed the poignant Rolling Stones documentary GIMME SHELTER, were asked to make a documentary about the two Bouvier sisters, Jacqueline Onassis and Lee Radziwell. While in the process of experimenting with the idea, they discovered the Bouvier’s aunt Edith Bouvier Beale and cousin Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale, who were living in a dilapidated mansion in East Hampton, New York. Vastly more interesting than the socialite Bouviers, the Maysles brothers found two fascinating eccentrics that live life uniquely.
Along with directors Ellen Hoyde and Muffie Meyer, the Maysles brothers virtually moved into the crumbling mansion, which has holes in the walls, no running water and raccoons living throughout the house. In the opening of the film, we see newspaper reports of the Beales fighting with the local government and neighbors over health code violations and the unkempt look of their property, which sits in the middle of other beautiful estates. The filmmakers just watch as the two women tell the tales about their lives and feelings — often bickering about every detail. It’s amazing to see photos of them when they were younger and lived life closer to the norm.