Glen or Glenda (MRA) (1953)

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Released 17-Mar-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1953
Running Time 66:28 (Case: 80)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Edward D. Wood Jr.
Studio
Distributor
Screen Classics
MRA Entertainment
Starring Bela Lugosi
Lyle Talbot
Timothy Farrell
Dolores Fuller
Edward D. Wood Jr.
'Tommy' Haynes
Charles Crafts
Conrad Brooks
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $9.95 Music William Lava


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

"Only the infinity of the depths of a man's mind can really tell the story."

    Despite being filmed by the "worst director of all time", Edward D. Wood, Jr., Glen or Glenda (a.k.a I Changed My Sex, a.k.a He or She? - take your pick) is one of the most enjoyable films I have come across. A somewhat misguided but sincere plea for understanding on behalf of transvestites the world over, ("the less fortunate Glens"), Wood's film is a pseudo-documentary, relating Glen's (Wood himself) struggle with cross-dressing as he tries to reveal his secret to his fiancé Barbara (Dolores Fuller). We are led to understand that cross-dressing is quite common among men and to be expected: as the narrator suggests, for example, since men's hats are so tight and can cause baldness, we should hardly be surprised that some men prefer to wear a loose fitting woman's hat. And women's underwear is just simply much more comfortable. In Wood's world, being a transvestite is about tactile sensation and enjoying the touch of an angora sweater.

    Hovering in the background as a strange kind of narrating mad scientist (though most of the story is narrated by Glen's sympathetic psychiatrist (Timothy Farrell)), Bela Lugosi rants and raves about green dragons eating "big fat snails" and commands both the characters and the audience to "Pull the string! Pull the string!" while a herd of buffalo stampede across the frame. Similar episodes of bizarreness and odd dialogue fill the entire film, including a creepy dream sequence in which the devil marries Glen and Barbara, and a poorly inserted "pornographic" scene demanded by the film's producer. Wood even manages to find a way to insert war footage.

    As inept as it all sounds, though, it's the bizarre elements that makes Glen or Glenda so enjoyable to watch. It's badly acted and pieced together in ridiculous ways, though it sometimes makes you wonder if Wood didn't do it all on purpose as some kind of clever joke. Either way, it's great fun and, with its low RPI, is highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Glen or Glenda's video transfer is watchable, but is let down by poor source materials. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, close to its original ratio of 1.37:1.

    Sharpness and contrast are weak. Shadow detail is very limited and, as most of the film is shot in low lighting and in black-and-white, faces and objects tend to blend into the background. Low level noise is present throughout, though never distracting. It is most visible at 12:33. Pleasingly, though, macro-blocking remains relatively under control, the worst example occurring, again, at 12:33. Brightness fluctuates constantly.

    Posterization is plentiful, particularly on faces (10:18). I noticed some aliasing on the bookshelf in the psychiatrist's office (7:27) (although not in every scene in which they appeared) and on Bela Lugosi's chair (3:59). The transfer is plagued by film artefacts: black and white marks of all sizes and scratches are present in every shot. Reel change marks and vertical lines also appear. The worst damage, in the form of multiple horizontal scratches from top to bottom of the screen, begins at 18:55 and lasts, with varying visibility, for most of the film.

    The major disappointment of the transfer is the intermittent appearance of an MRA watermark. The watermark is not embedded in the transfer, in the sense that it appears at different times in each viewing. I thought I had imagined it the first time it appeared (when I rewound, I couldn't see it anymore) but it made two more appearances. Even though barely visible, such a practice is both unnecessary and highly irritating.

    A subtitle stream marked English is on the disc: it is, however, empty.

    This is a single-layered disc and has no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Glen and Glenda's soundtrack is as lacklustre as its video transfer. A single Dolby Digital 2.0 track is provided approximating the original mono.

    Dialogue is fairly clear and audio sync is accurate. Hiss is heavily present during dialogue but absent during voice over segments. On the whole, the audio-track comes across as very thin, although Lugosi's scenes, naturally accompanied by thunder, sound very muddy. There is also some occasional distortion (19:05) and audio drop-outs (21:19), as well as a sudden increase in volume at 00:24, inherent in the film source.

    Non-original music is credited to William Lava. I wasn't able to discover how much of the score is Lava's or who else contributed. Mostly swelling strings (with a jarring change in music during the inserted "pornography"), the score blends pleasantly into the background and suits the film well.

    There is no surround or subwoofer activity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Glen or Glenda is also available in Region 1 from Image (individually and as part of The Ed Wood Box). From screen-caps I have seen, the Image disc has a much more detailed and sharper transfer. The same disc has also been released by Image in the UK (Region 0). Image's version does, however suffer from censorship issues.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 (and Region 2) version of this disc misses out on;

    The Image disc's transfer makes it a winner, though some may want the MRA with its more complete cut (although it too has been censored).

Summary

    Glen or Glenda is highly enjoyable in its own bizarre way.

    The video quality is poor, though not unwatchable.

    Audio quality is poor.

    The disc has no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Atkinson (read my bio)
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S336, using Component output
DisplayLG Flatron Widescreen RT-28FZ85RX. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V357
SpeakersDB Dynamics Belmont Series: Fronts: B50F, Centre: B50C, Rears: B50S, Sub: SW8BR

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
I watched this - cztery
Puppy dog tails - Neil
Bevare... - cztery