DATELINE: Transvest or Transsex?
Glen, Ed, or Alan Young?
We never thought we’d tackle Ed Wood, figuring it was beyond anything we could tolerate.
You never know until you sample the wares. Perhaps the decades of derision about his schlock-master directing jobs, or worse, being portrayed in a movie by Johnny Depp, has left Edward Wood with a reputation in tatters. He has become synonymous with laughingstock. What a shame.
Glen or Glenda was one of his daring efforts of 1953, on the heels of Christine Jorgensen and the sex-change scandals of that socially calm time.
Looking like a version of Alan Young on steroids, Ed Wood made us think Mr. Ed will show up at any point. However, it was Mr. Ed Wood who played the outrageous Glenda in blonde wig and high heels.
Simplistic and well-intended, the film was way ahead of its time in terms of trying to present a subject that was laughable to society. He likely contributed to the snide attitudes with his masculine “woman” who dresses like his girlfriend.
Indeed, the high point of their relationship is when she understandingly gives him her beautiful angora sweater that he yearns to wear.
The notion that transvestites and transsexuals were similar is debunked here, as well as the notion that transvestites were homosexual. You have to give Wood credit. He was trying too hard to bring legitimacy to the subject matter.
On hand, inexplicably, is Bela Lugosi, sending in his performance from an armchair. You might ask why is he here? Well, box-office and a payday for him could be the answer. He talks a great deal of gibberish in his tacked-on loony scenes.
Mostly the story is a psychiatrist telling Lyle Talbot, as a sympathetic detective who has found a suicide victim (a man dressed as a woman) and he wants to understand. Talbot also added a presence to the film, as he was better known from being the neighbor friend to Ozzie and Harriet on TV!
The low-budget film is in its own way equal to anything Kenneth Anger was trying to do outside the Hollywood system. Wood works with bad actors, bad script, bad sets, and a wacky message, to present something presentable.