Cinema’s Most Inept Film Director Is Never Forgotten
As more and more films are shot outside of the major motion picture studio regime, with miniscule budgets compared to their blockbuster counterparts, one of Hollywood’s most notorious independent directors never seems to fade from our minds. Especially if you’re transgendered; because Ed Wood was one of us.
In 1950’s Hollywood, Ed was a transvestite – plain and simple. The terms ‘crossdresser’ and ‘transgendered’ were far off on the horizon. Ed had no money, a serious lack of talent, but more sheer energy and stamina than twenty people combined and he LOVED film and filmmaking! Upon finally securing the funds to shoot Glen or Glenda/ I Led Two Lives, Ed Wood not only wrote and directed, but also cast himself in the lead, virtually outing himself right out of the closet.
Now in case you’ve been asleep for way too long, or just awoken into the TG world, Ed Wood was a struggling writer/director in 1950’s California, eager to make a name for himself. Though he did direct or write over two dozen films for theater or television, his name today is synonymous with three words; crossdressing and cinematic crap. He is commonly referred to as the Worst Director of All Time. And although he had the guts, energy and stick-to-itiveness than many in Hollywood even lack now, the product he produced was inevitably… junk. Moralistic, low budget, mistake prone films that the more we watch, the more we love!
Here’s a recent quote from online writer Phillip Martin that says it all:
“How great would it have been had 1950s schlock auteur Ed Wood been given the high-definition digital keys to the kingdom? Wood managed to churn ’em out by shooting his movies on the cheap, rarely filming a scene more than once, no matter what catastrophe occurred during the take.
I always feel a little guilty laughing at Wood’s movies because I understand he was genuinely trying to do good work and he loved the form. It wasn’t so much that he was incompetent, it was just that his world view was so different and the movies he aspired to make so outstripped his talent and resources that disaster was inevitable.”
Ed Wood’s career, or lack of it, is generally based on two of his most infamous masterpieces, Plan 9 From Outer Space and Glen or Glenda. I’ve got both films in my collection, along with another half dozen Wood epics, and they’re always great to pull out once year. They’re unintentionally funny because of filming errors, bad scripts, terrible acting and a lack of budget that sometimes forced an entire Wood film to be shot in a matter of days.
In 1994, director Tim Burton finally brought Ed back to life, via the amazing performance by Johnny Depp as the man himself. And this film did solidify in history Ed’s almost nonstop energy for getting movies made. He had passion, grit, determination, along with an angora sweater. And he lived his life fulfilling his cinematic dreams, regardless of his failures! Many of Ed’s films are available on DVD, and if you’ve never seen one, they’re a must.
So as independent filmmaking is ever increasing, and more movies are being shot on tight budgets with minimal equipment, we can never forget one of our own. A crossdresser who nearly sixty years ago began putting his mark on Hollywood. Sure, his product always seemed hackneyed, rushed and ill thought out, and in the end, was inadvertently hysterical, but it’s his energy we still admire. And no matter how many years have passed, the name Ed Wood is never forgotten!
A Note From Gina Lance:
A lot of people over the last few years have asked me about how my comments on a featurette track of the ED WOOD film with Johnny Depp came about, and why I’m not on most copies.
My own involvement with the Ed Wood film was a commentary section on the DVD. A call went out in Los Angeles for a crossdresser and spouse to appear together and talk about crossdressing and Ed Wood. Needless to say, by time the producers found me, they realized that this was a hard job to accomplish because most CD’s just wouldn’t do it. I personally jumped at the chance because I had always loved Ed Wood films.
I videotaped a segment around 2001 in a studio in Hollywood and being the ‘promo ho’ I am, I spent a good part of the interview plugging GIRL TALK Magazine which I was then publishing. Others featured on the DVD ‘crossdressing’ track were various gender therapists.
When the DVD was finally released, it was immediately pulled back. No one knew why at the time but current belief is that Buena Vista (re: Disney/Touchstone) wasn’t interested in having a real crossdresser on their DVD commenting about a real crosdresser in their film. I guess they were under the notion that it might just shock the home audiences too much. Of course, these audiences would be watching a film about a crossdresser so you figure that one out!
Anyway, many of the original DVD’s released found their way into distribution anyway and somehow, the copies with my comments have become a collector’s item. It’s hilarious to me that in some weird way, my presence on the DVD (and lack of it) has made certain copies much more valuable!
BUY the original Glen or Glenda starring Ed Wood $9.98