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The comments posted here are uniformly derisive of this film. It does
not deserve such derision.
I suppose I should confess that I haven't seen the film for about 20 years, or maybe longer, and that I only saw it by chance while channel-hopping one evening, so I suppose my memories of it are somewhat faded. However I was hooked by it, and it's stuck in my mind ever since.
What the other comments overlook about this film is its honesty. It is made with real feeling. It's true that the dialogue is campy and that the attitudes portrayed are stereotypical; but the writer -- who was Christine Jorgensen herself/himself -- lived and believed every word of it, and her sincerity shines through every line.
I'm not saying the film is perfect. Very far from it. I've given it only 6 out of 10. But if you watch it with an open mind, it's quite a revealing portrayal of the mind of a transsexual. I'd be interested to know what happened to the author in later life.
I saw this movie the other evening on a digital cable channel called FLIX. It came on midnight, and I hope they show it again. I got tell you, I couldn't stop laughing, then being shocked. The shock came when I kept checking the year the movie was made...1970!! I have no idea how they got to do all of that in 1970, and today, 2002, Hollywood wont even TOUCH this. There is no way you wont laugh at some of the dialogue and acting. But once you get beyond that, some of the subject matter scenes are WAY ahead of their time. The one thing that I could not get out of my mind was the little boy actor who played Christine. When you see him in that dress putting on lipstick, the first thing I thought was, "Why did this actor's parents allow this child to do this?!?!?" I remember the actor, he went on to play "Butch" in the series "Nanny and the Professor" and in 1982, he killed himself. But if any little child actor today had scenes like this, they would be a star. Same with the adult actor, I had no idea it was an actor, for some reason I thought it was Christine herself. Then there is the director, I thought it was a made up name until I looked here on IMDb and found out he directed one of my favorite films..Now, Voyager! Plus I thought about Tim Burton's Film, Ed Wood and remembered how Ed wanted to direct this script. (Ed only got to do Glen and Glenda which is no where near this!) I thought if Ed Wood got his wish to direct this film, he would have been a more household name. I am so sorry FLIX showed the film so late, I dosed off before the end, and I did not tape it. FLIX has a habit of showing these again, if you've got digital or satellite tv, I suggest you catch it. And I challenge Hollywood today to do a film like this (Independent Feature Film makers would, of course!). And tackle the subject matter, without the camp but with all the inner and outer turmoil George/Christine had.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I heard this was terrible and was expecting to see some sort of camp classic
when FLIX showed it. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying
This is the true story of the first sex change operation of a man to a woman (John Hansen as both). This was shot and treated like some 1950s Hollywood melodrama. There's bright beautiful color, lush music score, beautiful settings and lines that sound like they were lifted verbatim from old movies. It's totally at odds with the subject matter but, surprisingly, it works. The picture is very tasteful about the subject and treats Jorgensen with sympathy.
It does get so bad it's good at the end when a male reporter falls for Christine. Then it leads to some howlingly bad dialogue and actually ends with the couple making love (not shown) in front of a roaring fireplace!
The only reason this has an R rating is because of some (minor) male and female nudity and the scene of a guy and a transsexual kissing--way too strong for a 1970 PG. Also Hansen is very good in both roles. He looks damn good as a woman! Worth seeing.
This attempt at a serious presentation of the story of Christine
the first person to undergo a sex-change operation, comes across now as
unintentional camp. The movie traces the life of George Jorgensen, a
confused young man who has always had the impulses of a female, from his
difficult childhood to his army stint and success as a fashion
to his journey to Scandanavia and the subsequent operation. Along the way
we're dished up a brain-broiling stew of equal parts overripe soap opera
freakish psychodrama. As a child, George secretly dresses up in his
dresses and plays with her dolls. As he grows older, George tries to
suppress his feminine impulses by joining the army. During basic training,
he hallucinates that the sandbag he is supposed to practice bayonetting is
doll he once pined for in a shop window as a child. After the military, he
becomes a photographer. While on a location shoot, he is nearly raped by
closeted boss and finds sympathy in one of the models("The only people we
can confide in are strangers," she informs him). Seeking answers to his
problem, he becomes a research assistant to a biologist doing work in
hormone studies, from whom he learns he has higher than normal levels of
estrogen--big surprise! Under the guise of a photo shoot, George travels
Denmark, where he stays with an aunt who is(conveniently)a dressmaker, and
confides in her his real reason for coming to visit. Auntie is
and graciously agrees to create a new feminine wardrobe for
George/Christine. The movie now descends into soap opera territory, as
Christine falls for a reporter who is sent to interview her for a
and we're treated to shots of the two kissing, shot throught the flames in
I saw this precurser to brain seizures on TNT's 100% Weird and had the foresight to tape it, and am I glad I did. Otherwise nobody would believe such a film exists. It's hard to believe that this movie got made, given the subject matter, which really couldn't be made in any way that wasn't exploitative. Star John Hansen sports bleach blonde hair with long bangs, speaks in an effeminate whisper, and wears tons of pancake makeup. Even weirder are the scenes post surgery, where he puts on a blonde wig, squeezes himself into a corset that pushes his pectoral muscles up in a most voluptous manner, and sashays around in filmy dressing gowns and heels. This guy looks good in drag! Along the way there are various humiliations, including an army shower scene("Hey George, what are you going to do tonight?" asks an army buddy. "Line up with all the other girls!" howls another in the shower), a botched visit to a prostitute, and the aforementioned attempted rape. This last scene comes as a total surprise: it's hard to believe the censors(or what was left of them in 1970)let that pass, seeing as how such a scene would have trouble playing even now. My only explanation is that this film must have had a limited release, or one that only played to the grindhouses. Definitely a film to see if you're tired with the mediocre bad films playing perpetually on cable and pine for a true JOLT!! John Waters, have you caught wind of this one?
It's hard to believe that the director of the classic 'Now Voyager' directed this wastebucket. The story of the world's most famous sex change recipient (THIS WAS NOT THE FIRST SEX CHANGE! NOT EVEN CLOSE! Sex change operations had been happening since the 1920s at least! Can't people research things? Jorgensen was the first Sex change celebrity for sure.) is so very bizzare. We are first introduced to little George Jorgensen Jr. played by the uber creepy Trent Lehman (Butch on 'Nanny & The Professor', Who later at the age of 20 commited suicide by hanging himself with his belt from a middle school fence) Little Georgie grins like a maniac while looking at a eye rolling doll through a toy shop window and endures the taunts of his pudgie playmates who proclaim that his name is "Georgette" while making stereotypical limp wrist gestures (This is very odd, given that nothing in Lehman's mannerisms is particularly effeminate!) After abandoning his erector set (!?), Georgie decides he would rather play with his sister's dolls. After being discovered with a doll at school, his parents start to worry. Years pass and Creepy Trent has grown into a Hetero Surfer dude who seems to be doing a mediocre wispy gay imitation (Inconsistent with Lehman's performance). Chubby playmates give way to bitchy fashion models and taunting prostitutes. The burly bleached blonde George decides to consult with some kind of hormone expert and soon is off to Denmark to be changed into Grace Kelley's stunt double. Our hero/heroine soon finds brief romance with a handsome tabloid reporter (Quinn K. Redeker, a few years after his riveting tour de force in 'The Three Stooges Meet Hercules') Poor Christine finds the people back home in America to be ignorant, simple minded and insensitive (As does most of Europe). I have to stop here, as words are inadequate to describe this overly melodramatic soap opera/train wreck. I will say this, it is never boring!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Irving Rapper, the director who gave us two of Bette Davis's best
films, NOW VOYAGER and THE CORN IS GREEN, as well as other classics
such as THE BRAVE ONE, sadly closed out his directing career with two
major embarrassments: this 1970 disaster and his final film, 1978's
I don't know what possessed him to make the latter film, but I can see how the subject of this one might have sparked his interest. As a gay man, Rapper might have identified on some level with George/Christine; while being gay and being transsexual are not the same thing, there may have been a feeling of solidarity that drew Rapper to the story. Unfortunately it seems that the Rapper of the 1940s was long gone; the man who directed this mess had no idea how to make a credible movie.
The script wasn't much help. Though taken from Jorgensen's own autobiography, Robert E Kent and Ellis St Joseph's screenplay is a muddled series of clichés that seem dated even for a story that took place in the 1950s.
The actors playing the title role not only add nothing, they are actually a liability. Eddie Frank and Trent Lehman make little impact as George at various stages of childhood, and when he grows up and John Hansen steps into the role, the whole mess gets campy. I don't know where Rapper and company found this guy, but he is not terribly feminine as a man, and then after the transformation, in a dress, he is positively butch. Certainly the real Christine Jorgensen was a more convincing woman than this rather-too-muscular young man, who in addition to being too husky for the role, isn't much of an actor.
It is hard to fathom that this film came from the same hand that directed NOW, VOYAGER. Perhaps Bette Davis was not just being bitchy when she commented later in life that Rapper gave so little direction that she and Paul Henreid practically directed the romance part of the film by themselves.
I was channel surfing for Steven King's Christine when Roku surfaced this chestnut from 1970. I was amazed that a movie had been made on Christine Jorgensen. Ed Woods dream come true. But in spite of its high production value and good acting it gave short shrift to gender dysphoria syndrome. In fact the story was almost surreal. It was hard to maintain belief that this was really what happened. Being a physician that treats transsexuals and other syndromes and having known Christine on a personal basis, the film was quite shallow but served a necessary purpose to once again remind the public that this is a medical problem deserving of respect not derision. The story is much more complicated than portrayed. It is not a laughing matter and victims of the syndrome do not have a happy ending. Many wind up in the sex trade, murdered regularly, and victimized by malpractice of surgeons. I'm glad Christine agreed to make the film but it is locked in its time and prejudices. Not up to date if you really want to know about this life shattering disease.
Such a serious subject to turn out so campy and ludicrous. George Jorgenson Jr(John Hansen) realizes at an early age that he is a female trapped in a male's body. This tends to be a bizarre biography of the famed 50s phenomenon first sex change...George becomes Christine. Not exactly and in-depth study and it is strange that George looks more masculine as a female. Go figure. It would tend to be logical that liberties were taken with actuality just to get this oddity on the screen. It does make you want to search out the autobiographical novel by Jorgenson to get the real skinny. Trent Lehman plays George at 7. Also in the cast are: Joan Tompkins, Pamelyn Ferdin, John Himes and Oscar Beregi Jr. as Dr. Dahlman, the sex change doctor. Curiosity is the driving force to tend with. It is a shame this comes across a laughing matter.
This is the first time that I have seen this film, and, having expected to see something along the lines of an Ed Wood camp classic, I was a bit surprised to see a film which was made with some care and professionalism, and an earnest approach to it's subject. John Hansen does okay in the acting department, even if he is a little bulky to be playing this convincingly. (I kept seeing Jethrene from The Beverly Hillbillies). The supporting cast are all good and the direction is excellent. In all, when one considers the year this was released, (1970) this is not a bad film. The print shown on Netflix was in excellent shape and the sound was excellent. Some brief nudity gives this an R rating.
This not to be missed camp classic directed by Irving Rapper is an attempt at a serious, informative and sympathetic biopic on the life of the world's first transsexual, but the result, as stated in a previous post, is genuinely bizarre and campy. Released by United Artists in 1970, the era of Easy Rider, M*A*S*H and A Clockwork Orange, the film seemed dated even then. Lead John Hansen is chubby and broad-shouldered, and as Christine he resembles Peggy Lee. No cliché in film-making, acting or dialog has been overlooked, and that combined with the solemn narration creates unintended laughter and derision. Surprisingly, the NY Times critic took the film seriously and gave it a respectful review. After its initial release. the film lapsed into obscurity. Critic Pauline Kael referred to Rapper's best known film, Now,Voyager(43), as "a campy tearjerker". In The Christine Jorgensen Story, the tears are caused by laughter.
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