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Glen or Glenda (1953)

PG | | Drama | April 1953 (USA)
A psychiatrist tells two stories: one of a transvestite (Glen or Glenda), the other of a pseudohermaphrodite (Alan or Anne).

Director:

Edward D. Wood Jr.

Writer:

Edward D. Wood Jr. (story and written by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bela Lugosi ... Scientist
Lyle Talbot ... Inspector Warren
Timothy Farrell Timothy Farrell ... Dr. Alton / Narrator
Dolores Fuller ... Barbara
'Tommy' Haynes 'Tommy' Haynes ... Alan / Anne
Edward D. Wood Jr. ... Glen / Glenda (as Daniel Davis)
Charlie Crafts Charlie Crafts ... Johnny (as Charles Crafts)
Conrad Brooks ... Banker / Reporter / Pickup Artist / Bearded Drag (as Connie Brooks)
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Storyline

"Glen or Glenda" tells two stories. One is about Glen, who secretly dresses as a woman but is afraid to tell his fiancée, Barbara. The other is about Alan, a pseudohermaphrodite who undergoes a painful operation to become a woman. Both stories are told by Dr. Alton, who also delivers an earnest lecture on tolerance and understanding. There is a second narrator, called the Scientist, whose commentary on the action contains more philosophical pronouncements than facts. The movie also has flashbacks-within-flashbacks and a strange dream sequence. We meet Insp. Warren, whose investigation of a transvestite's suicide leads him to learn more about men in women's clothes; Johnny, whose wife left him when she discovered what he wears when she's away; Barbara, oblivious to Glen's desire to wear her angora sweater; Satan, who invades Glen's nightmare; and others. Meanwhile, the Scientist will only offer cryptic advice. "Beware!" he warns. "Beware of the big, green dragon that sits on your ... Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's Fantastic! It's Unbelievable! It's True! Most Daring Film of Year! "I Changed My Sex!" See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

April 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Glen or Glenda? See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Screen Classics (II) See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1982 re-issue) | (DVD) | (cut) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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. See more »

Goofs

The headline on the newspaper at the beginning has clearly been taped on. See more »

Quotes

[voice-over during stock footage of cars on a freeway]
Narrator: The world is a strange place to live in. All those cars. All going someplace. All carrying humans, which are carrying out their lives.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Card at beginning: In the making of this film, which deals with a strange and curious subject, no punches have been pulled-- no easy way out has been taken. Many of the smaller parts are portrayed by persons who actually are, in real life, the character they portray on the screen. This is a picture of stark realism-- taking no sides -- but giving you the facts -- ALL the facts -- as they are today... YOU ARE SOCIETY -- JUDGE YE NOT... See more »

Alternate Versions

An alternate take of one scene exists and has been featured in documentaries. It is the scene where Barbara gives Glen her angora sweater. In the alternate take, she throws it at him; in the final film, she hands it to him more gently. According to actress Dolores Fuller, the "throwing" take more accurately showed her feelings about the film! See more »

Connections

Featured in The Cinema Snob: Glen or Glenda (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Czardas
(uncredited)
Music by Vittorio Monti
[plays during the bondage portion of the dream sequence]
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
One of the most bewildering movies I've seen
23 November 2013 | by gizmomogwaiSee all my reviews

I had a particularly masochistic day today, watching both Manos: The Hands of Fate and Glen or Glenda, both of which have at some point been claimed to be the Worst Movie Ever. Watching both movies in one day made Glen or Glenda look good by comparison, but it is, by itself, one of the most bewildering movies I've seen.

I say this not because of its pleas for tolerance in gender matters. That might have seemed odder in the '50s, when homophobia was more mainstream. We've since moved on to debating whether gays can marry. What's really striking about this movie, rather, is the extended surreal dream sequences and the inexplicable narration of Bela Lugosi. Throw Satan in there! Why not? A herd of buffalo stampeding below Lugosi? Why not? Being trampled by the herd would symbolize being run over by society for an urge to cross-dress, wouldn't it? Symbolism! Except the symbolism goes on way too long, one sensing in an effort by Ed Wood to drag his movie over the 60-minute mark. Eventually, it becomes incomprehensible.

And what of that narration? Bela Lugosi, "the Scientist," is kind of like a half-scientist, half-god character, who's also dark. He has skeletons around him for some reason. He says sinister things. Who or what is he? At the same time, a doctor is telling a police officer about Glen and Glenda. I'm reminded of the Nostalgia Critic's criticism of Rock-A-Doodle- who in god's name is telling the story? "The Scientist" or the doctor?

You can find some elements of this style in a movie like Ingmar Bergman's Persona- random flashing of unpleasant things, apparent dream sequences, a kind of god-like "narration" (a boy watching a TV), but that movie was competently done. Glen or Glenda becomes a giant non sequitur- not the worst movie ever, but worth quite the WTF?


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