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Starring: Ed Wood, Timothy Farrell, Dolores Fuller
Director: Ed Wood
Running Time: 71 mins
Glen Or Glenda is an American film about the story of a man who wears women’s clothing, and serves as an example of the often-mocked community of cross-dressers in the United States, as well as men who wish to change their sex to that of a woman.
Often placing in lists of the ‘worst movies of all time’, and directed by B-movie legend himself, Ed Wood, Glen Or Glenda seems like a perfect movie to put on and laugh at.
Cinematically, the film is far from a masterpiece, but despite the derision of past decades and the controversy the reigned when it was first released, Glen Or Glenda is actually a rather sweet film.
Acting as a pseudo-documentary on ‘the transvestite’, the film gives an interesting and undoubtedly passionate account of the trials and discrimination faced by cross-dressers, telling a story that certainly doesn’t feel a million miles away from the world we live in today.
While more sensitive viewers might not be able to handle the perfectly innocent and objective use of what’s now rather outdated language, Glen Or Glenda is a film that’s firmly behind a group of people who were almost exclusively mocked at the time of its release.
Director Ed Wood, a cross-dresser himself, stars in the lead role, which sees ‘Glen’, an everyday man engage in cross-dressing, becoming ‘Glenda’.
The comparisons to schizophrenia and the overarching themes of attempting to ‘solve’ transvestism is a little strange from a modern perspective, but Glen Or Glenda does try its best to explain its core themes without simply attacking those who disagree, or calling them out as stupid or backwards.
It’s likely that this kind of discourse may not hold up as well in the modern day, but you can be assured that there’s real passion and a tender love for this issue behind the camera.
That being said, Glen Or Glenda still isn’t the greatest film you’ll ever see. As heartfelt and genuine as it is, the film struggles to tell its story in the most captivating way, and its attempts to act as a pseudo-documentary are more distracting than anything else.
With classic Ed Wood-esque audio issues and inconsistencies, the film is far from a masterpiece, though Bela Lugosi’s sparing appearances so always spark some joy.
Overall, however, I have to say that I rather liked Glen Or Glenda. It’s not the so-bad-it’s-good film you might expect, but it is a heartfelt tale, and a bold one for its era. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.2 overall.