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Glen or Glenda
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Reviews & Ratings for
Glen or Glenda More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Terrible Movie - But Courageous For Its Time

Author: sddavis63 ( from Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada
5 June 2003

There's a part of me that would like to give this movie a high rating. Considering that it was made in 1953, this is a very courageous movie about transvestites, tackling the issue fairly seriously and sympathetically (and offering the viewer a lot of information on the subject) and trying very hard not to stereotype. The movie clearly makes the point that transvestites are not homosexuals, and that aside from wearing women's clothing they lead a relatively normal life. It deals with the pain of not being accepted in society - the plot revolves around a police officer (Lyle Talbot) desperately trying to understand the issue because of the recent suicide of a transvestite. So, you have to give everyone involved with this movie credit for taking on such a controversial (in the context of 1953) subject.

Having said all that, I'm also sorry to say that this movie is absolutely dreadful. In trying to portray Glen/Glenda's (Edward D. Wood) pain, the movie falls into silly (and at times surprisingly - again given the era - sensual) fantasies that make the story very hard to follow. The acting is wooden at best. None of the dialogue comes across as real; the actors look and sound like people reading speeches written by others. And - worst of all - there was no point to having Bela Lugosi in this movie. This was another of the increasingly embarrassing roles this poor man took on in the latter stages of his career. "Pull the strings; pull the strings," poor Lugosi's character (called The Spirit in the credits, but really coming across as more of a mad scientist) kept crying. And nothing he did really seemed to have much connection with the rest of the movie.

For artistic merit, the movie doesn't really deserve much more than 1/10. However, for the courage involved in just putting it out, I'll give it a 3/10.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:


Author: Kevin ( from Hollywood, USA
2 February 2001

Ooh-la-la, what can I say that hasn't already been said ad nausium? However, I would like to convey a little personal anecdote about "Glen or Glenda":

When I was very young (too young to know, really), I remember stealing furtive glances into my cousin's massive porn-magazine collection. In the back of the sleaziest of these magazines were advertisements for those new-fangled video-tape thingies. One of such was a tape with a painting of a very sexy and statuesque young 'woman' on the cover. The title of this tape was "I Changed My Sex, AKA Glen or Glenda".

Many years later, I viewed this famously 'so-bad-it's-good' classic on public access television, when it slowly dawned upon me that i was watching the film from that silly advertisement! I had to imagine a man, waiting patiently for weeks for this item to come to him in the mail. Feverishly he tears the wrapping away and slides the tape in the VCR. Gazing longingly at the cover, he readies himself for an evening of hot, kinky 'n' perverted porn--and then this thing plays.

As the above thoughts occurred to me, I laughed so hard I fell out of bed!

Cheers! :)

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

This is Ed Wood's most interesting film.

Author: ( from champaign, illinois
16 November 1999

If you know enough to look up this movie, you've probably already seen it. If not, you need to see this now. Poverty-row sets (which always give these kind of movies a creepy realism), lack of conventional acting ability and weirdly-phrased dialogue are in all Wood's movies, but here we also have Bela Lugosi as God, buffalo stampedes, funny disembodied voices, the devil with eyebrow-horns...I could go on. It's the world as it should be.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

surrealism on the hoof

Author: Christopher Petkus
15 September 1999

It's beautiful--a better surrealist film than Blood of a Poet. This movie sends normal filmic logic down on its knees screaming with what Tom Wolfe would call "a great barbaric YAWP! at the skies!" Also note Bela Lugosi's passionate performance. Pull the string!

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Ed Wood's Masterpiece

Author: Mike Salvati ( from New Jersey, USA
27 May 1999

Glen is NOT a homosexual.

That is the most important thing about the film "Glen or Glenda?" Never mind that this film is Ed Wood's masterpiece; a loopy, nonsensical hodepodge of exploitation film narrative, stock footage, and hammy narration from Bela Lugosi. The movie makes little sense. Bela Lugosi doesn't belong in this movie and the bizarre dream sequence that Glen has is more like a stag film and has little to do with the movie. Perhaps Wood was aiming for a Hitchcock-type dream sequence like the one found in "Spellbound." Whatever, he failed.

I repeat Glen is NOT a homosexual.

Never mind that this is one of the most personal statements ever put on celluloid. That Ed Wood was given money to make a film loosely based on the life of transsexual Christine Jorgensen but instead made this ode to cross dressing that begs for acceptance from society is not important. "You are society, judge ye not."

Once more: Glen is NOT a homosexual.

Never mind that Wood actually had the gall to make a totally different film than the one he was commissioned to make that essentially was HIS story. Never mind that he actually starred as a ficitionalized version of himself. Never mind that he actually had his then-girlfriend star as a fictionalized version of herself. Therapy was only for the very rich in the early 50's, you see.

Glen is NOT a homosexual.

Never mind that this is one of the worst movies ever made with some disturbing images to haunt you forever. Particularly the scene where Glen's girlfriend takes off her angora sweater and gives it to Glen. And the aforementioned dream sequence with the devil, women with whips, and women in various poses.

Glen is NOT a homosexual.

Never mind that this film has some of the worst dialogue ever written. Bela Lugosi's narration makes little sense. And the other narration is truly hysterical. One can only guess that Wood did not take a class in screenwriting, or even basic grammar for that matter.

The most important thing about this movie is that although Glen does enjoy wearing women's clothes to make himself feel comfortable, he is NOT a homosexual.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Don't let the low rating fool you - this is a must see!

Author: dbcooper-3 from United States
5 April 1999

This movie is so ineptly made, that it winds up being great. If you have seen the movie "Ed Wood" then with "Glen or Glenda" you can see how idiotic Ed Wood really was and how well "Ed Wood" captured the essence of his films. Crossdressing was undoubtedly dear to Ed's heart and with "Glen or Glenda" he was trying to make an important statement about it. However, even if he had been competent enough to manage that, I doubt that 1953 was ready for any statement about crossdressing. The film is so badly made that it's a hoot! Definitely a lot of entertainment value in this one even if it is a colossal failure. For a better made commentary on crossdressing, which is also quite entertaining, watch "Ma Vie en Rose".

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Jaw-droppingly sincere...

Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
26 November 2005

Ed Wood strikes again! This time, the amateur filmmaker (and open transvestite) makes a plea for understanding the ordinary, everyday man who enjoys dressing in women's clothing. What begins as a hilariously sincere, would-be educational piece about cross-dressing deteriorates soon enough into demented sex-fantasy with S&M overtones. Bela Lugosi is our overly-enthusiastic host, practically foaming over lines such as, "Snips and snails and puppy dog's tails!" More pathetic than amusing, with stock shots of Los Angeles in the 1950s which are more interesting than the movie itself. Wood directed and also stars (under the name Daniel Davis); one assumes his heart was in the right place, but the money-men obviously wanted an exploitation piece and got what they deserved. * from ****

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:


Author: scarlet caulfield
27 June 2002

This is without a doubt Ed Wood's best. While his other films, like Plan 9 From Outer Space, drag a little, this one doesn't contain a single dull moment, although it is a bit long, I'll admit.

Bela Lugosi is the star. His bizarre ramblings/narration and of course Mr. Wood himself feeling women's sweaters create the perfect cinematic experience. The dialogue is just great, and Lugosi has the best lines. The stock footage and the odd dream/porn sequence will have you in stitches.

And the fact that it's not supposed to be funny is what makes it even better. See this film to experience the true brilliance of Wood's work. You'll be an instant fan!

And just remember: Glen is not a homosexual. He is a transvestite.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Take Care.....bevare........PULL ZE STRINK! PULL ZE STRINK!

Author: tom farrell from dublin, Ireland
25 October 2004

"What the Hell is this an actual movie?" says Mr Feldman of Warners after Johnny Depp leaves in his 'little opus' after far more promising titles (The Vampire's Tomb, The Ghoul Goes West, Dr Acula) were given the brush off. We will never know how much Tim Burton's 1994 depiction of 'Glen or Glenda's' open-mouthed reception at Warners' matched the reality, but probably it wasn't too far off. And may the suits be forever despised for their narrow minded lack of vision. It was in 1953, as the guns of Korea fell silent and America got ready for sex, courtesy of Monroe, Dean and Presley. Into this changing world came the pencil-moustacheod, angora-wearing figure of Edward D Wood Junior, a proto John Waters and all American hero who had parachutted onto the beaches of Normandy wearing a brassiere, aware that his bravery would have meant nothing in the face of the dishonourable discharge that would have been automatic had his secret been unveiled. Glen or Glenda was his statement to the world: be tolerant, a few TVs wearing womens' garments at home won't usher in the end of civillisation. We start with a decrept Bela Lugosi warning us to 'bevare of the big Green Dragon..he eats little boys!' Then we find a police officer and shrink chatting over the recent suicide of a transvestite...long-winded dialogue commences before our hero is introduced, Glen. He's engaged to Barbara 'a lovely intelligent girl' but he's got a problem..his other self 'Glenda' Should he tell Barbara (Delores Fuller)? After all, "Glen is NOT a homosexual, he is a transvestite but he NOT a homosexual" Wood's stream of consciousness, admittedly in better form in 'Plan 9' babbles on like stream, taking in ruminations about human nature, western civilization and mental illness, at times simply illustrated by stock footage of streets and factories! Fans of Burton's Ed Wood will know that Screen Classics boss Georgie Weiss originally wanted a 'sex change flick' for 'those repressed Okies' but Wood's script was pretty lop-sided, not being about that til 5 pages near the end. "The rest is about some schmuck who likes Angora sweaters!" The film is a sad reflection of how low Lugosi had sunk at the end and it does make you wonder how accurate was the Depp-Landau portrayal of Wood as a nice, if talentless guy who just wanted to help out his idol. By the standards of 1952, parts of Glen's nightmare scene are a bit saucy and does hint at where Wood eventually went, in the direction of soft porn. It is a pity that he died in 1978. The special effects boom and gender-bending fashions of the 1980s could have let him direct 'Dr Acula' with aplomb.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Worst director of all time...? One of the most daring, brave and insightful movies of all time...?

Author: Souzi Karpouzi from Greece
12 June 2013

Ed Wood is thought to be the worst director of all time.... maybe that's true... "Plan 9 from outer space" is a movie from outer space!!

But that does not change the fact that "Glen or Glenda" is 100% a piece of movie history.

Not so much a movie with the "strict" meaning of the word but rather a dramatized documentary about a subject that even today, 60 years from its time, raises brows, frowns faces, causes unease and creates misconceptions...

The prologue of the movie says it all I think. Yes, all the technical elements are flaky and below mediocre...etc etc... the actors are not top notch.. yeah well, how many low budget movies now days "suffer" from that and on top of it have absolutely nothing to say!! And even high budget movies with superstars still have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO SAY! Nobody can "accuse" Glen or Glenda and ultimately Ed Wood of such a "film crime"... on the contrary. It will give you and your company PLENTY to take into consideration and talk about!

Ed Wood hit home run with this one and he deserves to be acknowledged for it even now.... Sure, he hit the ball half naked, barefoot and dirty, staggering drunk, with his eyes half closed and with an awful haircut but he certainly hit a great home run!

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