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A transvestite has killed himself, & inspector Warren (Lyle Talbot), who
can neither understand transvestitism as such nor why the man has killed
himself, turns to his friend doctor Alton (Tim Farrell) for enlightenment. The
doctor tells him the stories of 2 very recent cases he had, & how each of
them went into a different direction:
First there's Glen (Ed Wood), who has liked wearing women's clothes ever
since he was a child, much to the dismay of his sister, whose clothes hi was
frequently wearing. But now he is engaged to lovely Barbara (Dolores Fuller),
who doesn't know about his condition, even though she starts to notice some
signs, like his long fingernails & his sparkling eyes every time they pass
by a shop for women's clothes ...
Glen is in torment, since he is not sure if her love is strong enough to
stand the shock of his predilection, & he gets ever more worried, even his
dreams are haunted by guilt-ridden & almost surreal representations of his
crossdressing, often featuring the devil (Captain DeZita), until one day he
just has to tell her ... & at first she's shocked, but soon she promises
him she will help him work his problems out ...
So they visit doctor Alton, & he helps them on their way to happiness,
& eventually, with the love & care of Barbara, Glen's female alter ego
The second story Doc Alton tells is that of Alan ('Tommy' Haynes), who was
born a boy but brought up a girl. Then war came (second World War that is),
& he served in the army, even got medals for bravery ... but he never could
stop wearing women's cloths ... until he too came to Doctor Alton, & the
doc discovers Alan is a pseudohermaphrodite (meaning he has dominant male sex
organs, but female organs too) & offers to make him a woman (with all the
implications), & as a woman, Anne, Alan winally finds happiness in life.
Brought into being following the sensational reports about Christine
Jorgensen's sex-change, Glen or Glenda is Ed Wood's first feature & maybe also his most personal, since Ed was a
lifelong crossdresser (albeit perfectly heterosexual - like Glen) himself. The
claim of the movie's stark realism in its foreword is shattered nevertheless
when in the first scene we see Bela Lugosi hamming it up as a godlike
puppeteer, delivering some of the funniest lines in film history in his
trademark Hungarian accent.
The movie as a whole is of course not the flaming plea for transvestitism Ed
Wood wanted it to be, it is however a highly entertaining (if often for the
wrong reasons) film consisting of Wood's trademark drivelling & preachy
dialogue, some very weird acting performances (while Bela's hamming is almost
surreal & nonsensical, Dolores Fuller's weird acting is unique), a
very weird sense of continuity & (in the dream sequence) surrealism made on
a shoestring - to put it short: A must-see.