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Glen or Glenda

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Glen or Glenda

Film poster for Glen or Glenda

Directed by

Ed Wood

Produced by

George Weiss

Written by

Ed Wood

Daniel Davis Dolores Fuller Starring Bela Lugosi Lyle Talbot Conrad Brooks

Music by

William Lava (uncredited)


William C. Thompson

Editing by

Bud Schelling

Distributed by

Columbia Classics

Release date(s)


Running time

65 min.


United States





Glen or Glenda is a 1953 exploitation film written, directed by, and starring Ed Wood, and featuring Bela Lugosi and Wood's then-girlfriend Dolores Fuller. The title was originally I Changed My Sex! and is often given as Glen or Glenda? but the question mark is not present in the film itself. A new musical score for the film was composed in 2010 by Michael Penny.[1] The film is a docudrama about cross-dressing and transsexuality, and is semiautobiographical in nature. Wood himself was a crossdresser, and the film is a plea for tolerance. It is widely considered one of the worst films ever. However, it has become a cult film due to its low-budget production values and idiosyncratic style.


1 Plot 1.1 Glen or Glenda 1.2 Alan or Anne 2 Production 3 Release 4 Details 5 Legacy 6 See also 7 References 8 External links
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Glen or Glenda

Wood as Glen, dressed in female clothing. The first part of the film begins with a narrator called The Scientist (Bela Lugosi) making cryptic comments about humanity. The film properly opens with Inspector Warren finding the corpse of a male transvestite named Patrick/Patricia, who has committed suicide. Wanting to know more about cross-dressing, Warren seeks out Dr. Alton, who narrates for him the story of Glen/Glenda. However, at several points Alton appears to address the viewer rather than Inspector Warren, and the unclear role of the Scientist as narrator makes things even more confusing. Glen is shown studying women's clothes in a shop window. Dr. Alton points out that men's clothes are dull and restrictive, whereas women can adorn themselves with attractive clothing. Glen reads about sex change operations in a newspaper, then meets with Barbara, his girlfriend, who asks if Glen's secret problem is another woman. The film then cuts to the infamous shot of the Scientist shouting "Pull the string!" as bison stampede onscreen. It is not clear what this is meant to mean; perhaps that Glen should act as puppeteer, controlling his own life instead of letting others dictate it. Another transvestite friend of his, John, tells Glen how cross-dressing ended his marriage. A bizarre dream sequence, containing some BDSM vignettes full of flagellation and bondage, reminiscent of the fetish films of Irving Klaw, follows. Glen then decides to tell Barbara the truth. She offers her an angora sweater as a sign of acceptance.

Alan or Anne
The second part is much shorter, and was made to meet the distributor's demand for a sex change film. Alan is a pseudohermaphrodite who fights in the Second World War wearing women's underwear. After his return, Alan undergoes surgery to become a woman.

Shot in four days, the film was loosely inspired by the sex reassignment surgery of Christine Jorgensen, which made national headlines in the U.S. in 1952. George Weiss,

a Hollywood producer of low-budget films, commissioned a movie to exploit it. Originally Weiss made Jorgensen several offers to appear in the film, but these were turned down.[2] Wood convinced Weiss that his own transvestism made him the perfect director despite his modest resume. Wood was given the job, but instead made a movie about transvestism. Wood persuaded Lugosi, at the time poor and drug-addicted, to appear in the movie. Lugosi's scenes were shot at the Jack Miles Studios in Los Angeles. He was reportedly paid $5000 for the role, although some stories state the actual amount was only $1000.[2]Lugosi is credited as "The Scientist", a character whose purpose is unclear. He acts as a sort of narrator but gives no narration relevant to the plot; that job is reserved for the film's primary narrator, Timothy Farrell.[3]

Domestically, the film was limited in release, having been pre-sold to some theaters (under alternative titles such including I Led Two Lives, He or She? and I Changed My Sex. Internationally, the film also had a limited release, and in France and Belgium, the title was translated as Louis ou Louise and in Argentina as Yo Cambi Mi Sexo; the film had a brief screening in the Republic of China.[2]

This was the only movie Wood directed but did not also produce. Wood himself played the eponymous character, but under the pseudonym "Daniel Davis".[3] His girlfriend, Dolores Fuller, played Glen's girlfriend. Wood later returned to Glen or Glenda in his pulp novel Killer in Drag (1963). The plot features a transvestite called Glen whose alter-ego is called Glenda. He is executed in the sequel Death of a Transvestite (1967) after a struggle for the right to go to the electric chair dressed as Glenda. The film had deleted scenes. In the theatrical trailer, included in laserdisc and DVD editions, the scene in which Fuller hands over her angora sweater, is a different take than the one in the release version in the trailer, she tosses it to Wood in a huff, while the release version shows her handing it over more acceptingly. There is also a shot of Wood in drag, mouthing the word "Cut!"

In 1980, Wood was posthumously given the accolade of 'Worst Director of All Time' at the Golden Turkey Awards, and revival of interest in his work followed. This led to Glen or Glenda being reissued in 1982. This cut of the movie included six minutes of additional footage. One of the restored scenes features Glen rejecting a pass made to him by a gay man. At this point the film was reviewed seriously, and reclaimed as a radical work, by Steve Jenkins in the Monthly Film Bulletin. The critic, Leonard Maltin, names Glen or Glenda as "possibly the worst movie ever made," a dubious honor previously held by another Wood film, Plan 9 from Outer Space.

In 1994, Tim Burton chronicled the troubled production of Glen or Glenda in Ed Wood. The film includes recreations of several key scenes, most notably Lugosi's ponderous narration and Glen's plea for his girlfriend's understanding at the end of the movie. A pornographic remake of the film, entitled Glen & Glenda, was released the same year as Ed Wood and featured much the same script as the original film, as well as explicit sex scenes.[4] In 2004, the horror film, Seed of Chucky, main character Chucky and his bride Tiffany decide to call their child "Glen or Glenda" as it lacks genitalia. In 2006, the distributed operating system, Plan 9 from Bell Labs, had a mascot, Glenda, the Plan 9 Bunny, named after Glen or Glenda and Plan 9 from Outer Space.

See also

Transgender in film and television Cross-dressing in film and television List of films considered the worst Edward D. Wood, Jr. filmography


The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (1996), documentary film directed by Brett Thompson Rudolph Grey, Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (1992) ISBN 978-0-922915-24-8

1. ^ Michael Penny website 2. ^ a b c Rhodes, Gary D. (1997). Lugosi: His Life in Films, on Stage, and in the Hearts of Horror Lovers. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0257-1. 3. ^ a b Peary, Danny (1988). Cult Movies 3. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc.. pp. 97 101. ISBN 0-671-64810-1. 4. ^ IMDB entry

External links
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Glen or Glenda

Glen or Glenda at the Internet Movie Database Glen or Glenda at AllRovi

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Edward D. Wood, Jr.

Feature films directed

Glen or Glenda Jail Bait Bride of the Monster Plan 9 from Outer Space Night of the Ghouls The Sinister Urge Take It Out in Trade Excited The Only House in Town Necromania The Young Marrieds Trick Shooting with Kenne Duncan Final Curtain The Night the Banshee Cried The Sun Was Setting Crossroad Avenger: The Adventures of the Tucson Kid Boots The Violent Years The Unearthly The Bride and the Beast Anatomy of a Psycho Shotgun Wedding Orgy of the Dead One Million AC/DC The Love Feast Venus Flytrap The Undergraduate Drop-Out Wife Class Reunion The Snow Bunnies The Cocktail Hostesses Five Loose Women The Beach Bunnies Hot Ice Crossroads of Laredo (filmed 1948, released 1995)

Short films directed

Television films directed

Films written; not directed

Posthumous films

Hellborn (filmed mid-1950s, released 1993) Take it Out in Trade: The Outtakes (filmed 1970, released 1995) I Woke Up Early the Day I Died (written 1970s, released 1999) Bela Lugosi The Golden Turkey Awards Dolores Fuller Conrad Brooks Paul Marco Tor Johnson Vampira Bunny Breckinridge The Amazing Criswell Stephen C. Apostolof Tom Mason Ed Wood (biopic)

Related articles

Retrieved from "" Categories:

1953 films Docudramas Films directed by Ed Wood Transgender in film Cross-dressing in film Sexploitation films English-language films Films shot in Los Angeles, California Black-and-white films

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