Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mourning Wood, Part II: "Glen or Glenda" (1953)

This movie is not just bad, it is "step out in front of a bus" bad.

Inspector Warren (Lyle Talbot) goes to see shrink Dr. Alton (Timothy Farrell) after a transvestite kills himself dressed to the nines in a print frock. Alton then relates the story of Glen (Wood, acting under a pseudonym), a transvestite who is keeping his cross dressing secret from his fiancee Barbara (Dolores Fuller).

Glen leads a normal life, except for his penchant for sheer negligees, and is afraid Babs won't understand why he is constantly stroking her Angora. Bela Lugosi plays "Scientist," an omnipotent somebody who yells at the players. I am not sure what his function was here. Alton then tells Warren about Alan/Ann, a man who did have a sex change operation and now is much happier for it. But will Barbara accept Glen? Will she lend him her sweater? Will they live happily ever after? Well, yeah.

Probably the most infamous part of this thing is the dream sequence, complete with bondage fetish footage, the devil, and a possibly inebriated Lugosi trying to follow direction from a sitting position. The film is shot in quasi-documentary style, begging its audience for understanding for these poor creatures.

For me the funniest moments seemed aimed at me: a balding heterosexual male. Male pattern baldness is blamed on the tight hats men wore then. If men were allowed to wear loose fitting women's hats, baldness would be cured! Also, watch for the subtle steel mill scene, as two characters talk about how sick a man must be to get a sex change operation while footage rolls of giant molten iron beams get chopped in half by heavy machinery.

Oh, baby, it's bad, but not as inept as other Wood efforts. The same cast, sets, and even automobile appear here and in the earlier reviewed "Jail Bait." Despite a lack of ineptitude, the film is still awful, ranking near the bottom of the barrel.

I could sit and argue the demerits of "Glen or Glenda" all day, but that would be a waste of breath. Some people like bad movies, I don't. I have only ranked a movie "so bad it's good" once, and I cannot remember which one it was. I should go, I am getting fitted for a pillbox hat and my bra should be done drip drying in the bathroom. "Glen or Glenda"? Neither. (*) out of five stars.