Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Would Rather Lose My Genitalia Than Watch This Again...No, Really: "Let Me Die a Woman" (1977)

Doris Wishman, who makes Ed Wood look like Steven Spielberg, directs this pseudo-documentary about sex change operations.

The film switches back and forth between Dr. Leo Wollman, who guides transgendered people to surgery; Leslie, a male to female postoperative who musters all of her seventh grade education to hope none of the children she adopts in the future turn out to be homosexual; and a bunch of softcore scenes involving trannies recreating different experiences from Wollman's patients' pasts.

Wishman's film is a technical nightmare. Footage shot from 1971 to 1978 is used, causing jarring discrepancies in Wollman's appearance. The camera often (literally) drifts from its subject, and the editing is atrocious. When Wollman isn't reading off cue cards, he is heard on voiceover, obviously reading a script.

The "cast" of transgender subjects are a bunch of freaks. Reenactments of problem patients use fake trannies (and porn star Harry Reems as a Moroccan cab driver...you don't want to know) here and there, but real trannies as well. One depressing sequence has real transsexual Debbie, 38 years old but looking 50, talking about her proud and understanding teenage daughter, her appearance on a David Susskind show, and her stint in the U.S. Navy when she was a man. Debbie is then poked and prodded by Dr. Wollman before he inserts a large metal dildo into her still developing vaginal cavity. Don't pluck your eyes out yet, or you will miss Debbie cavorting on a bed with an unnamed actor, generating the unsexiest sex scene in film history, outside of fetish bestiality rape videos. Hey, Deb, is your daughter still proud now?

"Let Me Die a Woman" is a nightmare of a film. Doris Wishman has left us, a sweet old lady who used to make exploitation films. Too bad all those films sucked. (*) out of five stars.