Archive for January 1953

Glen or Glenda?

January 1, 1953

Ed Wood’s fledgling effort (documented in Tim Burton’s biopic Ed Wood) is exquisitely awful yet, on some level, touching. Under the pseudonym “Daniel Davis,” Wood also stars as Glen, who doesn’t know how to tell his fiancée Barbara (Dolores Fuller, Wood’s first wife) that he feels most comfortable in women’s clothing. What Wood comes up with is like a ‘50s science reel on acid, with absurd stock footage punctuated by Bela Lugosi (without whose waning star power the film wouldn’t have been financed) as some sort of omniscient Spirit intoning “Bevare of the big green dragon that sits on your doorstep….He eats little boys….Puppy-dog tails! Big fat snails!” There are at least two huge laughs every minute, guaranteed — this is best seen with an audience, or at least in a living room full of your friends staring gobsmacked at the TV as Wood goes into his preposterous dream sequence. (This segment is hysterical yet sometimes genuinely surreal.) Underneath the ineptitude, this is an impassioned plea for tolerance. Many of Wood’s points, ridiculously presented though they are, make sense. So our laughter is tempered with sadness — regret that a truly one-of-a-kind filmmaker with so much on his mind and in his heart had so little talent to express it. What he does express, though, makes for fabulous, fascinating viewing.