Glen or Glenda/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Glen or Glenda

If you've ever heard someone describe a film as being so bad it's good, there's a good chance they're talking about the "masterpieces" of the immortal Edward D. Wood, Jr. And if you want to see just how bad "bad" can get, watch "Glen or Glenda." It's so bad you'll alternate between uncontrollable laughter and mind-numbing, jaw-dropping amazement. Bless him, his heart was in the right place, but his brain must have been orbiting Pluto. (Where on earth did he get the idea that wearing hats makes men bald, anyway?) Wildly incongruous montage sequences, dialogue (and acting) that wouldn't pass muster in a junior-high school Christmas pageant, and Bela Lugosi's somber ranting make this film a unique experience, if nothing else. Add to that an out-of-nowhere sadomasochistic dream sequence set to frenetic violin music, and you're off on a chaotic (and scary) journey through Ed Wood's mind. At times, the trip has the morbid appeal one gets from viewing a train wreck.


So why do I love this film? Well, being a transsexual, I have to look for sympathy where I can find it, and Wood is indeed sympathetic in his own ham-fisted way. I could have done without the loopy psychoanalysis (featuring the most implausible movie shrink in history). Did Wood, a crossdresser himself, really think that the love of a good woman was all someone like him needed, or was he simply trying to make this mess more palatable to 1953 audiences? I get the feeling even HE wasn't sure.


An interesting side note--Wood was "inspired" to produce his magnum opus at the urging of grade-Z movie schlockmeister George Weiss, who wanted to cash in on Christine Jorgenson's recent sex change (but couldn't get Jorgenson to appear). Not to be outdone, Wood replaces Christine's story with the story of Glen, a crossdresser about to be married, living in terror of what his fiancee might think if she knew his secret. Before we even get to this part of the story, we are treated to lengthy narration on the tightness and roughness of men's clothing. (Which makes me wonder how much time Wood really spent in women's clothes--he apparently never wore a bra for any length of time). In what was obviously a move to keep Weiss from strangling him, Wood does devote the last ten minutes or so of the film to an actual transsexual, (I think?) Alan/Ann. Miraculously, this is probably the most coherent part of the entire film, and does indeed give the audience a glimpse of what a transsexual must go through (it hasn't gotten that much easier in half a century).

Reviewed by Biohazard


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