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Glen or Glenda

Film poster for Glen or Glen
Directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Produced by George Weiss
Written by Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Starring Edward D. Wood, Jr. (as 'Daniel Davis')
Dolores Fuller
Béla Lugosi
Lyle Talbot
Conrad Brooks
Music by William Lava (uncredited)
Cinematography William C. Thompson
Editing by Bud Schelling
Distributed by Screen Classics
Release date(s) 1953
Running time 65 min.
Country United States
Language English

Glen or Glenda (title changed from I Changed My Sex!) is a 1953 exploitation film written, directed by, and starring Ed Wood, and featuring Bela Lugosi, and Wood's then-girlfriend Dolores Fuller. The film is a docudrama about cross-dressing and transsexuality, and is semi-autobiographical in nature. Wood himself was a crossdresser, and the film is a plea for tolerance. However, it has become a cult film due to its low-budget production values and idiosyncratic style.

Contents

Plot

Glen or Glenda

The first part of the film begins with a narrator called The Scientist (Bela Lugosi) making cryptic comments about humanity. The film proper opens with Inspector Warren finding the corpse of a male transvestite named Patrick/Patricia, who has committed suicide. Wanting to know more about cross-dressing, Warren seeks out Dr. Alton, who narrates for him the story of Glen/Glenda. However, at several points Alton appears to address the viewer rather than Inspector Warren, and the unclear role of the Scientist as narrator makes things even more confusing. Glen is shown studying women's clothes in a shop window. Dr. Alton points out that men's clothes are dull and restrictive, whereas women can adorn themselves with attractive clothing. He also makes some bizarre statements, such as that baldness is caused by hats. Glen reads about sex change operations in a newspaper, then meets with Barbara, his girlfriend, who asks if Glen's secret problem is another woman.

The film then cuts to the infamous shot of the Scientist shouting "Pull the string!" as bison stampede onscreen. It is not clear what this is meant to mean; perhaps that Glen should act as puppeteer, controlling his own life instead of letting others dictate it. Another transvestite friend of his, John, tells Glen how cross-dressing ended his marriage. A bizarre dream sequence, containing some BDSM pornography, follows. Glen then decides to tell Barbara the truth. She offers her angora sweater as a sign of acceptance.

Alan or Anne

The second part is much shorter, and was made to meet the distributor's demand for a sex change film. Alan is a pseudohermaphrodite who fights in the Second World War wearing women's underwear. After "his" return, Alan becomes the woman she always was through surgery.

Origin

The sex reassignment surgery of Christine Jorgensen made national headlines in the U.S. in 1952, and this was the inspiration for George Weiss, a Hollywood producer of low-budget films, to commission a movie to exploit it. Originally Weiss made Jorgensen several offers to appear in the film, but these were turned down.[1] Wood persuaded Weiss that his own transvestism made him the perfect director despite his modest resume. Wood was given the job and took the money, but instead made a movie about transvestism. Working titles during the film's production included Behind Locked Doors and Transvestite.[1] When the finished movie was deemed too short and too divergent from what was requested, Wood tacked on a few extra scenes about sexual reassignment. The producer spliced in two unrelated soft-core sequences, one with some mild bondage, cutting in reaction shots of Wood and Lugosi.

Lugosi's scenes were shot at the Jack Miles Studios in Los Angeles. He was reportedly paid $5000 for the role, although some stories state the actual amount was only $1000.[1]

The film received a release only because it had been pre-sold to a number of theatres before it was made. The film had a number of alternative titles during it's sporadic release, including I Led Two Lives, He or She? and I Changed My Sex. The film also had a limited international release. In France and Belgium, the title was translated as Louis ou Louse and in Argentina as Yo Cambie Mi Sexo. The film even had a brief screening in the Republic of China.[1]

Behind the scenes

This was the only movie Wood directed but did not also produce. He persuaded Lugosi, at the time poor and drug-addicted, to appear in the movie. Wood himself played the eponymous character, but under the pseudonym "Daniel Davis".[2] His girlfriend, Dolores Fuller, played Glen's girlfriend. Fuller was not aware of Wood's transvestism at the time: the nature of the film was not fully explained to her, and Wood rarely wore women's clothing when she was on set. Only at a screening of the finished product was the truth revealed, and Fuller claims to have been humiliated by the experience.[citation needed]

In the theatrical trailer, included in laserdisc and DVD editions, the concluding scene of the film, in which Fuller hands over her angora sweater, is a different take than the one in the release version — in the trailer, she tosses it to Wood in a huff, while the release version shows her handing it over more acceptingly. There is also a shot of Wood in drag, mouthing the word "Cut!"

Idiosyncrasies

Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide names this film as "possibly the worst movie ever made," a dubious honor previously held by another Wood film, Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Lugosi is credited as "The Scientist", a character whose purpose is unclear. He acts as a sort of narrator but gives no narration relevant to the plot; that job is reserved for the film's primary narrator, Timothy Farrell.[2] The Scientist is surrounded by horror movie trappings such as skulls and test tubes as he exhorts the audience to "beware of the big green dragon that sits on your doorstep".[2] Stock footage of rampaging bison are superimposed over The Scientist's face at one point for no obvious reason. There are also various long, surreal dream sequences during which Glen is haunted by a devil-like character.[2]

Legacy and references in popular culture

Due to its many flaws, Glen or Glenda? has become a touchstone for bad filmmaking.

An intensely personal film for its director, Wood later returned to Glen or Glenda? in his pulp novel Killer in Drag (1963). The plot features a transvestite called Glen whose alter-ego is called Glenda. He is executed in the sequel Death of a Transvestite (1967) after a struggle for the right to go to the electric chair dressed as Glenda.

After Wood was posthumously given the accolade of 'Worst Director of All Time' at the Golden Turkey Awards, a revival of interest in his work followed. This led to Glen or Glenda being reissued in 1982. This cut of the movie included six minutes of additional footage. One of the restored scenes features Glen rejecting a pass made to him by a gay man.

In 1994, Tim Burton chronicled the troubled production of Glen or Glenda? in Ed Wood. The film includes recreations of several key scenes; most notably Lugosi's ponderous narration and Glen's plea for his girlfriend's understanding at the end of the movie. A pornographic remake of the film, entitled Glen & Glenda, was released the same year as Ed Wood and featured much the same script as the original film, as well as explicit sex scenes.[3]

In Seed of Chucky (2004), Chucky and his bride Tiffany decide to call their child "Glen or Glenda" as it lacks genitalia.

See also

References

  • The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (documentary, dir. Brett Thompson, 1996).
  1. ^ a b c d Rhodes, Gary D. (1997). Lugosi: his life in films, on stage, and in the hearts of horror lovers. McFarland. ISBN 0786402571. 
  2. ^ a b c d Peary, Danny (1988). Cult Movies 3. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc.. pp. 97–101. ISBN 0-671-64810-1. 
  3. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0137784/

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Glen or Glenda is a 1953 film about a police inspector who, upon discovering the suicide of a known transvestite, seeks enlightenment from a psychiatrist familiar with the phenomenon. It is widely regarded as a cult film and one of the worst movies ever made.

Written and directed by Ed Wood.
He Loved Women So Much, He Dared To Dress Like One! taglines

Contents

Scientist

  • Man's constant groping of things unknown, drawing from the endless reaches of time, brings to light many startling things. Startling because they seem new...sudden...but most are not new to the signs of the ages. A life...is begun! People...all going somewhere. All with their own thoughts, their own ideas. All with their own personalities. One is wrong because he does right...one is right because he does wrong. Pull the strings! Dance to that, which one is created for. A new day is begun. A new life is begun. A life...is ended.
  • Pull the string! Pull the string! A mistake is made. A story must be told.
  • Beware...beware! Beware of the big green dragon that sits on your doorstep. He eats little boys...puppy dog tails, and big, fat snails. Beware, take care....beware!

Dr. Alton/Narrator

  • Only the infinity of the depths of a man's mind can really tell the story.
  • Modern man is a hard-working human. Throughout the day his mind and his muscles are busy at building the modern world and its business administration. His clothing is rough, coarse, starched, according to the specifications of his accepted job. At home, what does man have to look forward to for his body comfort? The things provided for his home. A wool or flannel robe, his feet encased in the same thick, tight-fitting leather that his shoes are made of...these are the things provided for his home comfort. It doesn't look so comfortable, does it? And get the hat - or better still get the receding hairline. Men's hats are so tight they cut off the blood flow to the head, thus cutting off the growth of hair. Seven out of ten men wear a hat, so the advertisements say. Seven out of ten men are bald. But what about the ladies? Yes, modern woman is a hard-working individual also. But when modern woman's day of work is done,that which is designed for her comfort IS comfort. Hats that give no obstruction to the bloodflow, hats that do not crush the hair. Interesting thought, isn't it? Just for comparison, let's go native. Back to the animal instinct. There in the lesser civilized part of the world, it's the male who adorns himself with the fancy objects, such as paints, frills, and masks. The true instinct. The animal instinct. Bird and animal life. Is it not so that it's the male who is the fancy one? Could it be that the male was meant to attract the attention of the female? What's so wrong about that? Where is the animal instinct in modern civilization? Female has the fluff and the finery, as specified by those who design and sell. Little Miss Female, you should feel quite proud of the situation. You of course realise it's predominantly men who design your clothes, your jewelry, your makeup, your hair styling, your perfume. But life, even thought it's changes are slow, moves on. There's no law against wearing such apparel on the street, as long as it can be distinguished that man is man and woman is woman. But, what is it that would happen were this individual to appear on the street? You're doing it now - laughing. Yet, it's not a situation to be laughed at. Thus, the strange case of Glen, who was Glenda, one and the same person. Not half man-half woman, but nevertheless, man and woman in the same body, even though by all outward appearances Glen is fully and completely a man.
  • Glen is not a homosexual. Glen is a transvestite, but he is not a homosexual. transvestism is the term given by medical science to those persons who desperately wish to wear the clothing of the opposite sex, yet whose sex life in all instances remains quite normal. Would you be surprised to know that this rough, tough individual is wearing pink, satin undies under his rough exterior clothing? He is. Then there is your friend the milkman who...who knows how to find comfort at home.
  • Glen and all the hundreds of thousands of other Glens across the nation face quite a problem. Glen is engaged to be married to Barbara, a lovely intelligent girl. The problem? Glenda, Glen's other self. The girl that he himself is, his other individual personality.
  • Glen's problem is a deep one, but he must tell her...soon...She's begun to notice things: his nails, his eyes when he looks into a lady's store window, so many of the little things that are so hard to hide. Soon she will realise. Then there was the time Barbara was wearing the sweater Glen had always wanted to feel on his own body. It was becoming an obsession to him. He must have it.
  • Always the same. He's not had the nerve to tell her. But he must soon come to some conclusion or forget the marriage. Should he tell Barbara of his Glenda now, before the wedding, or hit her between the eyes with it after, when it might be too late for either of them. The world is a strange place to live in. All those cars, all going someplace, all carrying humans, which are carrying out their lives. The world is shocked by a person who changed his sex. Glenda is shocked also, but by another reason: Someone like her had the nerve to do something factual about their situation. There are so many problems for Glen and all the other Glens. Perhaps the fear of discovery of the underthings they wear beneath their regular outer clothing, or that which they wear during their nightly visit to Morpheus, God of Sleep.
  • The homosexual, it is true, does adopt the clothing or the makeup of a woman to lure the members of his own sex. But this is not so for the transvestite. The transvestite is not interested in those of their own sex. The clothing is not worn to attract the attention of their own sex, but to eliminate themselves from being a member of that sex.
  • The end is only the beginning. Time passes, soon, due to a happily married life, the remembrance of the psychiatric treatments, and Barbara's love and understanding, Glenda begins to disappear forever from Glen. Glen has found his mother, his little sister, his wife, and his Glenda all in one lovely package. Thus Glen's case has a happy conclusion.

Others

  • Barbara: Once, long ago, just after we started going steady together, we promised we'd never lie to each other. Are we gonna start now, just because we're engaged to be married?
  • Johnny: Our whole existence is one big problem after another.
  • Glen/Glenda: My mind's in a muddle, like in a think fog. I can't make sense to myself sometimes. I thought I could stop wearing these things. I tried, honestly I tried. I haven't had a stitch of them on for nearly two weeks until tonight. Then I couldn't stand it any more. I had to put them on or go out of my mind. I'm afraid I'll lose her. I don't want that to happen because I really love her.

Dialogue

Alton: I've always heard you to be a hard-hearted policeman, Inspector.
Warren: Isn't that what's thought of most policemen? The laws are written, the policeman is hired to see that those laws are enforced. We have a job to do, as in most jobs there is always someone who doesn't want that job to done. In most factories today, the employer has put up suggestion boxes. Even the employer needs advice once in a while. I think in the case we're referring to, I need advice. Maybe it shouldn't have happened as it did. Perhaps the next time we can prevent it.
Alton: Let's get our stories straight. You're referring to the suicide of the transvestite?
Warren: If that's the word you men of medical science use for a man who wears women's clothing, yes.
Alton: Yes, in cold, technical language, that's the word. As unfriendly and as vicious as it may sound. However in actuality it's not an unfriendly word, not is it vicious when you know the people to whom it pertains.

Warren: I'd like to hear the story to the fullest.
Alton: Only the infinity of the depths of a man's mind can really tell the story.
Scientist: Dr. Alton. A young man who is...speaks the words of the all-wise. No one can really tell the story. Mistakes are made. But there is no mistaking the thoughts in a man's mind. The story...is begun...

Narrator: One might say, there but for the grace of God go I. Why is a modern world shocked by this headline? Why? Once, not so very long ago, people were saying:
Woman: Airplanes...ha! Why it's against the Creator's will. If the Creator wanted us to fly, he'd have given us wings.
Narrator: But we fly. Maybe some of you remember an even sillier remark:
Man': : Automobiles? Ah...they scare the horses. If'n the Creator hadda meant for us to roll around the countryside, we'd have been born with wheels.
Narrator: Silly? Certainly. We were not born with wings, we were not born with wheels. But in the modern world of today it's an accepted fact that we must have them. So we have corrected that which nature has not given us. Strangely enough, nature has given us all these things, we just had to learn how to put nature's elements together for our use, that's all. Yet the world is shocked by a sex change.
Woman: If the Creator had wanted us to fly, he'd have given us wings.
Man: If the Creator hadda meant us to roll around the countryside, we'd have been born with wheels.
Young Woman: If the Creator had meant us to be boys, we certainly would have been born boys.
Young Man: If the Creator had meant us to be girls, we certainly would have been born girls.
Narrator: Are we sure? Nature makes mistakes, it's proven everyday. This person is a transvestite. A man who is more comfortable wearing women's clothing. The term transvestite is the name given by medical science to those persons who wear the clothing of the opposite sex. The title of this can only be labelled Behind Locked Doors. Give this man satin undies, a dress, a sweater and a skirt, or even the lounging outfit he has on, and he's the happiest individual in the world. He can work better, think better, he can play better, and he can be more of a credit to his community and his government because he is happy. These things are his comfort. But why the wig and makeup? He dares to enter the street dressed in the clothes he so much desires to wear. But only if he really appears female. The long hair, the makeup, the clothing, the actual contours of a girl. Most transvestites do not want to change their life, their bodies, many of them simply want to change the clothing they wear to that as worn by the opposite sex.

Glen: My sister let me borrow her dress.
Father: You want to borrow your sister's dress?! What for?
Glen: I want to wear it the Halloween Party.
Father: There are names for boys who go around wearing girls' clothes.
Mother: Oh, don't be silly Darling. You go ahead and wear your sister's dress, Glen. You always did look much better as a girl than you do as a man.
Narrator: Glen did wear the dress to the Halloween party. He even took first prize. Then one day it wasn't Halloween any longer.

Sheila: When things like this go wrong with someone so close, and in your own family, it's so hard to believe.
Friend: It's not really hard to believe, it's just hard for you to accept!
Sheila: Well of course it's hard for me to accept! Suppose I were to come home with Roy or one of my other boyfriends some night, and find Glen like I did last night.
Friend: Yeah...that would be hard to explain.
Sheila: That's the understatement of the year. Just how does one go introducing your friends to your brother when Brother's wearing you best sweater, your skirt, and makeup to boot?!

Glen: G'night.
Barbara: That's the sixth time you've said goodnight.
Glen: I guess it is.

Warren: Then the way I get it, this Glen and the character he created, much as an author creates a character in a book, was invented as a love object, to take the place of the love he never received in his early youth, through lack of it from his parents. The character was created and dressed, and lives the life the author designs for him to live, and dies only when the author wants him to die.
Alton: Correct, except that for the character Glenda to die the elements must be right.

Barbara: Should I let him continue to wear girls' clothing, or should I put my foot down?
Alton: If you put your foot down he'd only go behind closed doors. Love is the only answer.

Alton: Therefore two entirely different cases, handled in two entirely different ways have a happy ending.
Warren: Yeah, those two. But what of the hundreds of other less fortunate Glens, the world over?
Scientist: Yes. But what of the others, less fortunate Glens, the world over? Oh, snips and snails and puppy dog tails.

Taglines

  • He Loved Women So Much, He Dared To Dress Like One!
  • What am I... MALE or FEMALE!
  • The strange case of a "man" who changed his SEX!
  • Strange Loves... of those who live and love but can not marry!
  • What Was "His" Sex...? A Daring Expose Of A Modern Problem...

Cast

External links

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