Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Review of “Glen or Glenda”
By: Brian Cotnoir
Known as one of the most infamous films in history, Ed Wood made his big screen debut with his film “Glen or Glenda”. “Glen or Glenda” tells the story of a man named Glen, who is living a secret life as a transvestite. Glen is about to marry a beautiful woman named Barbara, but Barbra doesn’t know about Glen’s cross dressing secret. Glen wants to tell Barbra about his secret, but he’s afraid that she won’t accept him for who he is and that she will leave him. Now Glen is left with a difficult decision; does he tell Barbra about his secret or does he continue to hide it from her forever?
This film is just terrible, but it’s terrible in a good way. Ed Wood wrote, stared, and directed this film and he definitely shows why many groups have voted him “The Worst Film Director of All-Time”. The film has very little dialogue—the story is mostly told from the perspective of a narrator—and of course it features Wood’s over-dependency on stock footage and repeat scene usage, but when you actually watch it you’ll just laugh hysterically at how bad it is. “Glen or Glenda” was meant to be a drama, but there’s nothing remotely dramatic about it; it’s just funny. “Glen or Glenda” was also the first film to feature Ed Wood’s friend and only big-name star, Bela Lugosi. To be perfectly honest, Lugosi’s role is totally irrelevant to the plot. When the film starts the first thing you see is Lugosi working in an laboratory-like setting, performing an experiment, and acting like he’s a mad scientist. However, as the film progresses Lugosi’s appearances make less and less sense to the film. Nonetheless, I liked Lugosi’s parts the most in this film because they made me forget how bad the movie really was. “Glen or Glenda” reminded me a lot of those old educational films they used to show in schools back in the 1950’s.
“Glen or Glenda” also gives us a look into Wood’s personal life. Today we know that Ed Wood was a transvestite in real life and liked to wear Angora sweaters, but back in 1953 no one knew that, let alone who he was. This film is an almost biopic; the role of Glen’s girlfriend, Barbra, was actually played by Wood’s then-girlfriend, Dolores Fuller
I think it can be said without argument that Ed Wood’s first film was also his worst and yet I would definitely recommend that people see this film, and even if you’re a person who is serious about film I think Ed Wood’s opus “Glen or Glenda” will definitely make you laugh.