YMMV / Glen or Glenda?


  • Accidental Innuendo: Dr. Alton's description of Anne's anatomy is rather... detailed. It can give the impression that Alton had a crush on her, and make you wonder just far he went in teching her to be a woman in every way.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Every single time Bela Lugosi appears, he's sitting in a chair in a room full of horror-movie props while giving bizarre monologues with very little relation to the previous scene. During the notorious "pull the string!" moment, there's also Stock Footage of stampeding buffalo superimposed over Lugosi.
  • Clueless Aesop: There is nothing wrong with crossdressing, but Glen should stop it anyway, except it doesn't matter as long as his girlfriend loves him, though him quitting it is still treated like a happy ending. What?! Dr. Alton's statement that every case requires a different solution only goes so far in trying to explain the message.
  • Ending Fatigue: Kind of — in the scene when Glen tells the truth to his girlfriend, the music at the end of the scene gives the impression that this is the end of the movie, but then...
    Inspector Warren: Is that the end of the story?
    Dr. Alton: Not quite. I'll get back to it in a minute.
    • Of course, Dr. Alton did say that he was going to tell two stories, but the audience may have forgotten this by this point, or they might assume that this is the end of the first story, even though it isn't.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: The Scientist is without a doubt the most popular character in the film. Ed Wood seems to have predicted this, as his actor was marketed as the star of the film.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Satan, while taking the form of Barbara.
  • Fair for Its Day: The movie has a fair share of Values Dissonance, though considering when it was made, it was actually very forward-thinking.
    • It manges to avert Trans Equals Gay, a trope that is still persistant to this day, but does so in a way that implies that homosexuality isn't "normal," but crossdressing is.
    • Glen's story ending with him "curing" his crossdressing comes of as rather ignorant today, but unlike other, similar examples of this trope it is said that this should only be done under certain cicumstances and with the patients consent. His "condition" is also treated more akin to a drug addiction than a mental illness, and is seen more as a symptom of a problem than a problem in and of itself, which mostly explains the portrayal of crossdressing in the film. (That is, the movie argues that crossdressing is usually harmless, but if it's hurting you and/or the people closest to you, you should stop it.)
    • Anne's story, which has her leave the army and becoming a housewife has some strong Stay in the Kitchen vibes, but it is still a clearly positive portrayal of a transgendered woman, and Dr. Alton feels that letting her transition was the best solution to her problems. Considering that the movie was made around the time when the fact that sex changes existed was front page news, this is quite remarkable.
    • The portrayal of indigenous people can also come of as rather racist, as they are treated as more "primitive" than the "normal" people in the civilised world. Though while Dr. Alton sees them as less civilised, he doesn't look down on them for that, and actually argues that - in certain ways - they may be more "natural" than people in modern societies have become.
  • Fridge Brilliance: From a Meta perspective, it makes sense that the Scientist is so surprised when the erotic scene starts. He is supposedly reading the story from his book, and this part wasn't in Ed Wood's original script. The Scientist understands that he is supposed to be all-knowing, and is shocked to see the plot go Off the Rails for five minutes.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The ending, where Glen and Barbara - played by Ed Wood and his real-life girlfriend Dolores Fuller - get married and live Happily Ever After becomes this when you consider that Ed and Dolores never got married, and separated a few years later.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Ironically enough, one completely unrelated to any LGBT themes. Glen's sister says that she doesn't want any of her boyfriends finding out about Glen's crossdressing. She probably means "boyfriends" as in "male friends," but her wording can get the impression that she Really Gets Around.
  • Ho Yay: Surprisingly little, though there is some of it in Glen's dream.
  • Memetic Mutation: PULL THE STRING!!
    • Beware of the big green dragon...
  • Narm: This movie is loaded with it.
  • Narm Charm: Bela Lugosi's scenes have no connection with the plot, but every single line he delivers is fantastic.
    • The scene where the suicide note is read out is actually rather effective, despite the seemingly random shot of a radiator and the fact that you can see that the "corpse" is breathing.
    • The speech about the Big Green Dragon actually becomes rather creepy when it is said by Satan, who stares at the viewer and apparentely communicates with them telepathically.
  • Noble Bigot: By today's standards, Dr. Alton comes across as one. He is clearly trying to be tolerant, and he is very open-minded towards transgendered people for his time, but he still manages to be rather insulting towards other groups, such as gays and indigenous people, and even feels that - in certain cases - the best course of action is to "cure" his clients crossdressing.
  • So Bad, It's Good: In large part thanks to Bela Lugosi's monologues.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Crossdressers are often perfectly nice people who deserve to be treated with respect, not looked down upon or laughed at.
    • It's better to stay true to who you truly are inside than to live a lie.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Ed Wood, of course. He took what could have been a simple exploitation film and tried to turn it into a great, character-driven story with a plead for acceptance, but he didn't quite have the talent or the budget to really pull it off.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Pretty much unavoidable, as the film was deliberately made as a portrait of the then-present day. For instance, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone today who remembers a time when airplanes and cars where seen as unnatural.
  • Vindicated by History: To a certain extent. It is still not seen as a good movie, but it is a least somewhat appreciated for having a very brave message that was ahead of its time.
  • Values Dissonance: The trope is Discussed In-Universe when Dr. Alton points out that there exists several tribes in the "less civilised parts of the world" where it's seen as perfectly normal for men to make themselves look pretty for their wives and not see it as "unmanly" at all. He also points out that cars and airplanes were once seen as wierd and threatening, but are now an essential part of today's society.
  • Values Resonance: While the film does have some Values Dissonance, some of its messages are still relevant.
    • The suicide scene arguably hits harder today than it did back then. The movie portrayas Patrick/Patricia as a Justified Criminal who really didn't deserve to die like that, but a modern audience might see him/her more like a victim of discrimination who couldn't take it any more.
    • In general, the portrayal of crossdressing is rather nuanced. It's said that people do it for a variety of different reasons, and that they should be judged on a case-by-case basis, as even people who seem very similar can require completely different kinds of help.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Some of the more surreal parts of the film qualify.
  • What The Hell, Casting Agency?: As Look Back in Angora stated, "Only Ed Wood would have cast Dracula... as God!"
    • Though in fairness, Lugosi does a pretty good job. The problem is that his scenes are utterly bizarre and that his character only seems to exist to give him somebody to play.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/GlenOrGlenda