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GLEN OR GLENDA (1953) + BLACK MASS (Messe Noire) (1928)

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GLEN OR GLENDA (1953):
 
Glen or Glenda (title changed from I Changed My Sex!) 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 is often given as Glen or Glenda?, but the question mark is not present in the film itself.  The film is a docudrama about cross-dressing and transsexuality, and is semi-autobiographical in nature.  Wood himself was a crossdresser, and the film is a plea for tolerance.  However, it has become a cult film due to its low-budget production values and idiosyncratic style.  The film was rated Adults Only. 

The first part of the film begins with a narrator called The Scientist (Bela Lugosi) making cryptic comments about humanity.  The film proper 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.  He also makes some bizarre statements, such as that baldness is caused by hats.  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 pornography, follows.  Glen then decides to tell Barbara the truth.  She offers her angora sweater as a sign of acceptance.

This was the only movie Wood directed but did not also produce.  He persuaded Lugosi, at the time poor and drug-addicted, to appear in the movie.  Wood himself played the eponymous character, 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.  (69 mins.  IN ENGLISH AND VERY GOOD QUALITY).

 

BLACK MASS  (Messe Noir) (1928):

1928 French film purportedly showing a Satanic ritual, though anyone with a knowledge of Black Witchcraft would probably get a good giggle out of it, since the film seems to portray what those who are not Satanists would believe goes on in such meetings.  Sort of like a film a propagandist would make, who wanted to show what Freemasons did in their back rooms, but in reality never met one in his life.

The six-minute film, rather incredible for its time when you consider what was actually showing in theatres during the 20s/30s, apparently uses the "Satanic" label to show things, which would otherwise be too blunt, daring and challenging to social norms to show:  vampirism, BDSM, lesbianism, etc.  Within its short length, the film goes from bondage/discipline with a veneer of the occult thrown in to justify its title to outright porn film.  Not the kind of film you want to show while the kids and grandparents are around.

We have put these two films on the DVD to represent a subtopic of "unsual and bizarre" within the GAY/LESBIAN and OCCULT topics in our store.  There are most likely people out there who would consider these films to be no more "unusual and bizarre" as they would be in any way related to "gay/lesbian and/or the occult".  Nonetheless, our intention is not to offend or challenge, but to credit to topics most people might associate this DVD with.  (6 mins.  SILENT FILM.  VERY GOOD QUALITY).

 

APPROX.  75 mins. AND IN VERY GOOD QUALITY. 

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