Glen or Glenda

Year Of Release: 1953
Running Time: 68 Minutes
DVD Released By: Image Entertainment
Directed By: Edward D. Wood Jr.
Writing Credits: Edward D. Wood Jr.
Filming Location: Jack Miles Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA
(studio), Quality Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA (studio)

Starring: Bela Lugosi, Lyle Talbot, Timothy Farrell, Dolores Fuller, Edward D. Wood Jr., Tommy Haynes, Charles Crafts, Conrad Brooks

Tagline 1: He Loved Women So Much, He Dared To Dress Like One!

Tagline 2: What am I... MALE or FEMALE!

Tagline 3: The strange case of a "man" who changed his SEX!

Tagline 4: Strange Loves... of those who live and love but can not marry!

Tagline 5: What Was "His" Sex...? A Daring Expose Of A Modern Problem...

Alternate Titles:
Glen or Glenda: Confessions of Ed Wood (1953)
Glen or Glenda? (1953) (USA) (alternative spelling)
He or She (1953)
I Changed My Sex (1953)
I Led 2 Lives (1953) (UK)
Transvestite, The (1953)

Interesting Bits of Trivia:
Dolores Fuller and Ed Wood were a couple until his drinking caused them to split. After the split, Dolores turned to songwriting and wrote tunes for a number of movies, including the Elvis Presley films Blue Hawaii and Kid Galahad. She also started her own record company called Dee Dee Records and helped to launch the careers of such music notables as Johnny Rivers and Tanya Tucker. Dolores has been very vocal in her disapproval of how she was protrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker in Tim Burton's Ed Wood.

Cast Of Characters
Glen / Glenda: I don't know why. Maybe it's just a guilty pleasure for me, but I just love watching Ed Wood perform as an actor. He's just one of those people that's fun to watch no matter what they're doing. In this film he plays a transvestite by the name of Glen who ended up with a strong desire to dress like a woman because his mother only wanted a daughter. Because he wasn't born a girl, she didn't give him any love, and instead, gave all of her love to his sister. Dressing like a girl was his way of feeling like he was special like his sister was. I'm glad he got cured of it at the end, because he really doesn't make all that attractive of a woman.

Barbara: This is Glen's fiance. I think she's a real life woman, but she has the emotial range of a cardboard cutout, so it's hard to say. It was through her love and understanding that Glen was finally cured of his desire to wear women's clothes. Now Glen should repay her by getting her some acting lessons.

The Scientist: Bela Lugosi is the man! God I love watching him on the screen. Doesn't matter what movie it is or what part he's playing, this man just oozes coolness from every pore. In this film, he plays a wacky scientist that says really bizarre things during in-between sceens that don't really make a lot of sense. What he's actually doing in the movie doesn't really matter. He could be talkin' jibba jabba with Mr. T for all I care. As long as a movie's got Bela Lugosi in it, it's destined to become a cinematic masterpiece.

Dr. Alton: This is the psychiatrist that Inspector Warren goes to after the suicide of the transvestite at the beginning of the film. He's a really smart and caring man who explains the whole phenomenon of transvestism to the inspector. I really do wish he'd shave that moustache though. His upper lip looks like it's got a roof.

Inspector Warren: The inspector is a very sensitive man and when he finds the transvestite after the suicide, he goes to Dr. Alton looking for some answers, and a way that maybe he could help to prevent such tragedies in the future. Now I personally find this rather strange, because you'd figure that a guy like this back in 1953 probably wouldn't care less about some transvestite laying dead in a room somewhere. Kinda makes me wonder what he's really wearing under that shirt and tie and those slacks. A satin bra and pantie set perhaps?

Johnny: This is Glen's understanding friend who gives him some good advice about whether or not to tell Barbara about his cross dressing before, or after they get married. See, Johnny had that same problem with his own wife, except in his case, he didn't tell her and she came home early one day and caught him in a godawful house dress. Let me tell you something. When they showed this guy in some horrible house dress, I got the boo boo jeebies really bad. He needs a visit from the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy guys really bad.

The Devil: This is...well...The Devil, but he's also more than that. This is actually the way Glen sees his own father in his dream. See, Glen's father didn't love him and this is the way Glen thought of him subconsciously, so this is the way he appeared to Glen in his dream. Looks kinda like Freddy Kruger's grandfather don't it?

Screen Shots

"It turned blue? Wait a minute. Let me read these instructions again. Blah blah blah...yada yada yada... Oh here we go. If the test result is positive, the sample will turn... Oh my god! I'm pregnant!"

I wonder if this story was about Eddie Murphy or Danny Bonaduce? Either way, it doesn't change the fact that the headline was obviously pasted onto the page.

"Yup, I seen 'em! Them zombies done went that a way! Wait huh? Oh sorry...wrong movie. Which movie was this again? Transvestites? What is that, some kinda new fangled vampire type a thing or somethin'?"

"Wow, I ust love taking these quizzes in Cosmo. This month's quiz is: Is your man a closet transvestite? I mean, I don't have a man or anything, but the questions sure are interesting!"

"Darling...sweetheart...honey lamb...sugar pop... You know, Mr. Ed told me the oddest thing today. Something about how you've been getting long visits from the milkman...and the postman...and the paper boy. Is there something you wanna tell me?"

"Oh Wilbur, it's nothing. Mr. Ed is just mad because we had an argument and I cut him off completely until he apologizes."

"Oh, well if that's all it is then...wait, WHAT???"

Shaggy: "Zoiks! Like, hey Scoob, we gotta get outta here! When they invited us for dinner, like I didn't know we were gonna be the main course!"

Scooby Doo: "Rust rut up and ret in the pot."

Shaggy: "Like Scoob, you wouldn't eat your best pal now would ya?"

Scooby Doo: "Roo betcha!"

Oh no wait second, I was wrong. This isn't Scooby Doo at all. It's Soul Train! I also want to mention that I can't look at this screenshot without thinking that this chick looks like she's trying to shake hands with Mr. Happy.

"Ok, I'll tell you what. I'll give you five bucks for your soul, but when you come down to hell, you gotta wear that white angora sweater you look so totally hot in. Deal?"

Best Quote

"Bevare...bevare...bevare of the big green dragon that sits on your doorstep. He eats little boys, puppy dog tails and big fat snails. Bevare...take care...bevare..."

- This was the little cut scene with Bela Lugosi right before Glen has his bizarre dream. - (Reviewer's Note: Hey Bela, you really need to stop eatin' those funny mushrooms before you come on set. You were weird enough to begin with.)

Video Clip
When prompted, enter bmovie for the username and central for the password.

Glen or Glenda
This is an excerpt from Glen's dream that he had while he was struggling with whether or not to tell Barbara about his transvestitism. I still don't know if it was his inner struggle that brought the dream on, or if he was eatin' some of Bela's funny mushrooms, but the whole sequence was pretty bizarre.

Summary and Conclusion

Ed Wood made Glen or Glenda as a semi-autobiographical outlet for him to express things that he had dealt with in his own life, and as a tool to help others understand why some men feel such a strong desire to wear the dressings of the opposite sex. Many people associate cross dressing with homosexuality, and I think this film goes a long way to clearing up that misconception.

I would have to say that this is probably my favorite Ed Wood movie. It's shot in a documentary style, mixing dialogue with narration, and it has a way of drawing you into the story, letting you identify with the characters and the inner struggles that they're dealing with, while at the same time, giving you all the goofy fun that you would expect in an Ed Wood film.

The movie starts out with the suicide of a transvestite. He leaves a note behind saying that he'd already been arrested four times for being caught in public wearing women's clothes. He said that wearing women's clothes was something that he must do, and that if he kept doing it in life, it would only lead to another arrest, so he had no choice but to end it all. The police inspector that was handling the case went to speak with a psychiatrist who dealt with these types of men in an effort to better understand why these men felt the need to dress in women's clothes and how these types of tragedies could be prevented in the future. The psychiatrist told him the story of Glen and his fiance Barbara, which comprised the main bulk of the movie, and then another story about a man who was a pseudo-hermaphrodite and had finally chosen to surgically become a woman and the struggles he had to go through to learn how to live his life as a woman after the fact. Things like how to walk like a woman, and how to do his hair and makeup and how to act socially. This part of the film didn't have any dialogue from the actor playing the character as it was completely narrated by the doctor.

The acting in this film was kind of a mix between what you'd normally expect to see in an Ed Wood film, and also what you would not expect to see. The police inspector and the psychiatrist played by Lyle Talbot and Timothy Farrell respectively, both did a stellar job, and their performances as the caring cop and the experienced psychiatrist both lent a lot of credibility to the film and really helped the viewer to identify with what's going on. Timothy Farrell did the narration throughout the film as well, giving it the sound and feel of an instructional film you'd see in a college psychology course.

Ed Wood's acting was decent, as usual, and Charles Crafts did a pretty good job as well playing Glen's sympathetic friend Johnny, who also happened to be a cross dresser. There was however one person who's line delivery was just horrible, as it was in all of her other appearances in Ed Wood's film, and that was Ed Wood's real life girlfriend, Dolores Fuller, who played his fiance Barbara. Dolores Fuller's physical acting suits Ed Wood's movies perfectly, but her line delivery is just so plain and unemotional, that it makes it hard to even watch her on the screen. Everything she says sounds like it's being read off a card by someone pretending to be a bad actor as a goof. Fortunately, Dolores eventually found success in songwriting; something where she could write the lines for other people rather than having to deliver them herself in front of a camera.

Bela Lugosi had several "in between" sections in this movie, where he would be sitting in his study with skeletons and skulls and all kinds of weird stuff around him, and he would say something obscure that only pertained to the story in the very vaguest of terms. These in between sections really didn't have much to do with the movie, but they did add to the fun of it and more importantly, they served to give Bela a job in his waning years as an actor. I really hate to hear people saying that Ed Wood's films were degrading to Lugosi. He was good friends with Ed and in the later years of his life when he was hurting very badly financially, Ed Wood gave him work, and provided him the dignity of appearing on film. In fact, between 1953 and 1956, Lugosi only appeared in four films, and three of them were Ed Wood's. So for anyone to say that these films were beneath Lugosi's talent, I say they are wrong, and that these films provided him with a sense of dignity and a small source of income in his final years.

The quality of this DVD transfer is decent. It's not to dark and the sound is good through most of it, although the audio on the stock footage of the war scenes was not leveled properly and it ended up having background static. Basically, like most of Image Entertainment's releases, this one's overpriced for the limited amount of cleanup work they did with it, but it wasn't horribly bad quality-wise to start with, so it's not that big of a deal. I just think that if Image is going to charge so much more for it's releases than companies like Alpha, then they should spend some time and effort to really clean them up as best they can.

This film is goofy, but at the same time it's informative and emotional and it really helps you to identify with the inner struggles and the day to day emotional hardships that people like Glen have to go through. Obviously, a large part of this film's success came from the fact that Ed Wood himself was a cross dresser and really had an in depth knowledge and understanding of the subject, and was able to bring that to the screen. I don't think I've talked to anyone about this film yet that didn't think it was wonderful, and I'm more than delighted to give it my highest rating of...

B-Movie Central's Rating: 5 Bees!

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