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Glen or Glenda (1953) Poster

Trivia

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Shot in just four days.
Surrealist filmmaker David Lynch called this one of his favorite films. He used the "howling wind" sound effect in Eraserhead (1977).
The film includes almost 14 minutes of stock footage, including the end credits, and 73 seconds that run concurrently with new footage of Bela Lugosi. The stock scenes include "Fake Lightning" (used 6 times), "Pedestrians" (3 times), "Highway Day" (3 times), "Highway Night" (twice), "Playground" (twice), "Superior Court" (twice), "Ridiculous Soft Core", "Natives", "Bison Stampede", "Parking Lot", "Steel Foundry", "WWII", "Ambulance", "Airplane", "Signalman", "Milkman", and "Girls with Fuzzy Hats or Sweaters."
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Bela Lugosi was broke and an addict at the time so readily took on a role in the film for which he allegedly was paid $5000. In reality, this figure was probably closer to $1000.
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In March 1981, Paramount placed a full-page page ad in the New York Times announcing the reissue of Glen or Glenda (1953). It was heralded as a lost trail-blazing masterpiece in the tradition of Citizen Kane (1941), Freaks (1932), The Godfather (1972) and Napoleon (1927). A big New York premiere was scheduled for the reissue, but the date, April 1st, made film buffs suspect that the whole thing was an April Fool's Day joke. Paramount abruptly canceled the premiere the night before, citing the attempted assassination of then-president Ronald Reagan on March 30th. The film was quietly put into limited re-release the next month, and started appearing in TV "bad movie" film festivals soon after.
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The only movie Edward D. Wood Jr. directed, but didn't produce.
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The film was originally intended to be loosely based on the story of sex-change pioneer Christine Jorgensen.
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The film is listed among the Top Ten Best Bad Films ever made in "The Official Razzie Movie Guide."
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While the film had no sequel, Ed Wood used the character Glen/Glenda again in two of his novels. In "Killer in Drag" (1963), Glen/Glenda has become a serial killer. In its sequel "Death of a Transvestite", Glen/Glenda is executed.
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Warren Beatty is purported to have sponsored its 1981 reissue by Paramount, while he was working there making Reds (1981).
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The film was reissued in 1982 when Edward D. Wood Jr.'s stock rose dramatically after the Golden Turkey Awards named him the worst director of all time in 1980.
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Dolores Fuller was Edward D. Wood Jr.'s girlfriend at the time of filming.
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Inspired by the Christine Jorgensen sex-reassignment scandal which had America agog in 1952. Originally Jorgenson was approached to appear in the film but she turned it down.
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The erotic-themed vignettes were not created by Wood. They were reportedly added by producer George Weiss. He needed extra scenes to add to what he felt was an overtly -short film. While not organic parts of the narrative, they seem to tell their own tales of gender dynamics and so fit in the general themes of the film.
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The film was intended primarily for the drive-in market. It was one of a wave of "exploitative, cheap fare" marketed to teenagers.
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The flirtatious and striptease-themed vignettes were typical of 1950s exploitation films and grindhouse films. So was the rape scene.
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Alternate titles included "I Changed My Sex", "He or She", and "I Led Two Lives".
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Did not get a New York City playdate until 1963.
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Producer George Weiss does a cameo as a janitor.
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Producer George Weiss made offers to Christine Jorgensen to appear in the film. She turned him down.
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Ed Wood got the part as the director because of his own experience with gender bending.
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The film was supposed to be about sex change operations, but only the second part features one. The main plot is about transvestism.
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Despite Bela Lugosi being credited as the "Scientist" his role is unclear. He is not the narrator, that role went to Timothy Farrell.
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While Ed Wood played the protagonist, he did so under a pseudonym. The role was credited to "Daniel Davis".
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The second part of the film, titled Alan or Anne, is much shorter, told largely through stock footage, and was made to meet the distributor's demand for a sex change film. Alan is a pseudo-hermaphrodite who fights in the World War II wearing women's underwear. After his return, Alan undergoes surgery to become a woman.
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The film had a limited release in the United States. It was also released to relatively few foreign markets, including Argentina, Belgium, China, and France.
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The erotic vignettes feature several uncredited actors. First a woman is whipped by a shirtless man in a BDSM-themed vignette. Several women "flirt and partially disrobe" for an unseen audience. A woman tears apart her dress in a dramatic manner, then starts a coy striptease. The whipped woman from an earlier vignette appears alone in an autoerotic session. Her pleasure is interrupted by another woman who forcibly binds and gags her. Another woman has a similar autoerotic session and then falls asleep. As she sleeps, a predatory male approaches and rapes her, with the victim seeming partially willing by the end of it.
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

The scene where a man in a fake beard ties up a girl on a sofa was shot separately, before production, and edited in to add 'spice'.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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