Glen or Glenda (1953) is a movie, written, directed by and starring Ed Wood, and featuring Bela Lugosi, and Wood's then-girlfriend Dolores Fuller. The movie is a docudrama about transvestism and transsexuality, and is semiautobiographical in nature. Wood himself was a transvestite,
and the movie is a plea for tolerance. However, it has become a cult film due to its low-budget production values and idiosyncratic style.
The sex reassignment surgery of Christine Jorgensen made national headlines in the US in 1952, and this was the inspiration for George Weiss, a Hollywood producer of low-budget films, to commission a movie to exploit it. Ed Wood persuaded Weiss that his own transvestism made him the perfect director despite his modest resume. Wood was given the job and took the money, but
instead made a movie about transvestism. When the finished movie was deemed too short and too divergent from what was requested, Wood tacked on a few extra scenes about sexual reassignment.
The producer spliced in two unrelated soft-core sequences, one with some mild bondage, cutting in reaction shots of Wood and Lugosi. The film received a release only because it had been presold to a number of theatres before it was made.
Behind the scenes
Wood persuaded Bela Lugosi, a former star now aged, impoverished, and drug-addicted, to appear in the movie. Wood himself played the eponymous Glen/Glenda, but under the pseudonym 'Daniel Davis'. His girlfriend, Dolores Fuller, played Glen's girlfriend. Fuller was not aware of Wood's transvestism at the time: the nature of the film was not fully explained to her, and Wood rarely wore women's clothing when she was on set. Only at a screening of the finished
product was the truth revealed, and Fuller claims to have been humiliated by the experience.
This was the only movie Ed Wood directed but did not also produce.
In the theatrical trailer, included in laserdisc and DVD editions, the concluding scene of the film, where 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
Directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Produced by George Weiss
Written by Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Starring Edward D. Wood, Jr. (as 'Daniel Davis')