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I Was a Man (1967)

4.8
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The story of Ansa Kansas, a New York City man who believed that he was a woman in a man's body and travels to Finland to have a sex-change operation.

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Title: I Was a Man (1967)

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Ansa Kansas
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The story of Ansa Kansas, a New York City man who believed that he was a woman in a man's body and travels to Finland to have a sex-change operation.

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The body of a man... The feelings of a woman! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

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Release Date:

10 November 1967 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

I Was a Man: The True Story of Ansa Kansas an Hermaphrodite  »

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User Reviews

Right Mahon for the job
5 February 2015 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

It's tricky playing yourself in a biographical film, as in Muhammad Ali in THE GREATEST. Not so great is I WAS A MAN, sort of relevant given the frequent Bruce Jenner transgendering headlines, but pretty dull as rendered by soft-core pornographer Barry Mahon.

Mahon was the right choice for this project because the subject is prototypical exploitation film fodder, right up there with birthing babies and evils of marijuana. Mahon's primitive, Warholian approach to cinema gives us a straightforward, self-serving account of Finnish individual Ansa Kansas and his finding his/her true self via surgery.

Aimed at adult movie theaters of the '60s, finished film is immediately recognizable as Mahon's work, since he throws in nude figure models at every opportunity, matching his other 60 or so projects. But this time a "male", the odd-looking Ansa, is the center of attention around which all these femme moths hover.

One unnerving aspect of the film reminded me of a favorite obscure film I saw back in 1972, I WANT WHAT I WANT starring Anne Heywood, directed by the noted opera & theater director from England, John Dexter. In it Anne, the sexy star of THE FOX fame, is far more convincing and even attractive as the male character who transforms into a woman by film's end.

Similarly Ansa is a hermaphrodite who lived his life as a man until middle age, getting an operation in Finland to remove his male genitals and bring out his extant female physical characteristics. So he's a real-life woman acting the role of his former male self to emerge as his current female self by movie's end. So many inversions, but like Ms. Heywood, he's more convincing as a man on screen.

Mahon's films, usually about vapid models or bad girls on the loose in the Big Apple in the '60s, are deadly dull, mere excuses to reveal some skin to a deprived audience. I WAS A MAN aimed at the same audience from a thrill-seeking or freak-show point-of-view. I wonder what Barry would think of the explicit "naughtiness" that now plays regularly on TV as in the "American Horror Story" series - certainly he could not have competed with that level of professionalism in the exploitation field.

The content of I WAS A MAN is quite uneventful. Ansa works as a cook on a Finnish merchant marine ship docked in NYC and has trouble socializing with his crew-mates, especially when they're together mixing with women at a bar. Hei's picked up by a B-girl, but resists her sexual advances in an embarrassingly poorly acted scene that reeks of Exploitation with a capital E. A neighbor lady is horny as hell to get him to play post office with her, and a young girl in his apartment building is likewise terribly anxious to be deflowered by Ansa.

When he visits the doctor (who introduces the film in standard white-coater fashion), there are a bevy of Mahon girls looking fine in the waiting room.

After returning home from Finland, his fellow New Yorkers are positively aghast and disbelieving at finding the woman now living in Ansa's apartment. Now a woman, the frumpy femme with wig version of Ansa is too timid to shower with the busty nude figure models at a beauty salon (and of course Mahon doesn't let us lurid viewers see what Ansa looks like under her dress).

She finds integration into the community via show biz: we see her extremely poor lounge act of dull patter trying to be a comedienne; so bad that I doubt if Ansa ever appeared on the late Joe Franklin's TV show.

For viewers more interest in a hot-house lurid approach to the subject, they are directed to the very poor Doris Wishman effort a decade later: LET ME DIE A WOMAN.


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