Edward D. Wood Jr.
A Tribute To Edward D. Wood Jr.
Worst Director In America
Everyone knows there are great directors. You have got Stephen Spielberg for E.T The Extra Terrestrial, Ron Howard for Apollo 13, George Lucas for Star Wars or and Indiana Jones and or course there is Orson Wells for either Citizen Kane or War Of The Worlds. But have you ever thought who the worst director would be? It may come as quite a surprise to you, but the worst director, In America that is, was and still is Edward D. Wood Jr.
There are two things that most people know about Ed Wood. First, there is a film about the infamous director starring Johnny Depp and Martin Ladau and was directed by incomparable Tim Burton. Second and probably the most known fact, Ed Wood was a transvestite. It was said that "an Ed Wood film without at least one angora sweater can only mean that the director himself was wearing it, probably over a pink brassier."
Ed Wood Look Back In Angora 1994
Incredibly Strange Ed Wood
Edward D. Wood Jr. was born October 10, 1924 in Poughkeepie, New York to Lillian and Edward D. Wood Sr. The Wood Family was your typical basic average normal American family. Edward D. Wood Sr. was a Postal Service worker and Lillian, like all mothers, had big plan for her son. She wanted to either be a doctor, a lawyer or maybe even a dentist. Unlike other mothers, when Lillian Wood did not get the little girl she had hoped for when she was pregnant, she would dress young Edward up like a girl until he was old enough to rebel. "This explains her son's later fascination with feminine wardrobe. In the least, it prepared him for Hollywood."
As Wood grew up his interests were like any average boy's. Wood was into the performing arts, pulp fiction, comics, pulp magazines and he adored movies; mostly westerns and anything involving the occult. "As a result of his obsession with film, he would often skip school in favor of watching pictures at the local movie theater." In fact, Ed Woods's first job was as a cinema usher. When Wood turned seventeen his parents gave him a Kodak "City Special" movie camera. "One of the first pieces of footage he shot was the Hindenburg Disaster; a piece he was endlessly proud of.
The Eccentric Life Of Ed Wood
Patriotic American Boy To Geek In A Traveling Carnival
Ed Wood was a patriotic boy; so he enlisted in the Marines at age seventeen, just six months after Pearl Harbor. While he was in the Marines "he earned a drawer full medals, the obligatory pink underwear underneath his battle fatigues. He lost his front teeth to a rifle butt and took several bullets, from a machine gun, in the leg." "He claimed that he had participated in the Battle Of Guadalcanal." His biggest fear was not dying, but that the medics would find out his secret. After Edward left the Marines all decorated as a war hero and with all his injuries it made him the perfect to play the half-man half-woman in a traveling carnival.
While in the carnival, Wood played many different parts up to and including "a geek." But the part he was best known for was the half-man half-woman. "With rugged facial hair, he donned the woman's clothing and completed the illusion by creating hi own breasts. This was (allegedly) by piercing a nipple and inflating the breast skin with air. This experience resulted in a respect for carnival freak shows and a reinforced adoration of the bizarre." By 1946 Edward had left the carnies and entered a whole new world, Hollywood.
The Causal Company
During 1948, before Edward D. Wood Jr. directed, produced and wrote movie scripts, he put his talents into a stage production that was near and dear to his heart called The Causal Company. In The Causal Company "he played a handsome man and any pretty woman was at risk; particularly if she was wearing and angora sweater. That sweater would soon be off and on Ed" In 1954, 6 years after The Causal Company, Wood figured that the theater life was not for him. Especially since no one came to see the production. He soon turned his unusual skills to his first Hollywood project about Christine Jorgenson. This, however, would also be one of several Edward D. Wood Jr. flops.
Glen Or Glenda
The Christine Jorgenson Story was to be a sex change film about a woman trapped in a man's body. It was first called The Christine Jorgenson Story, but since Variety Magazine printed the article and title first Movie Classics Studios then changed the name to I Changed My Sex when Ed Wood applied for the directing job. As Movie Classics was in search for a director they were also looking for someone to write a script for I Changed My Sex and Wood thought that this would be his golden opportunity to hit the big times in Hollywood, but Movie Classics wanted to go in a different direction and did not hire Wood on the first go around. It was not until Wood had a chance meeting with one of Hollywood's former classic horror movie star, Bela Lugosi, that Movie Classics even thought to go with Wood. They still had their doubts with Ed Wood, however, since he was able to produce a movie star for $1000 and they did not have to pay extra for a screen writer Wood got the job and changed the name of the film to Glen Or Glenda?. With Glen Or Glenda? underway nothing could beat the optimistic prospective of Wood, that is until the movie was released or rather when it was not released. "Lugosi's horror-scientist character in Glen Or Glenda? is completely out of place for a quasi-documentary on trans-sexuality." Glen Or Glenda? did not draw much of a movie going crowd where it was release for one simple reason--no plot. So with the first flop of the infamous Edward D. Wood Jr. underway, he tried to get money for another try. Teaming up once again with Bela Lugosi, as a mad scientist, for a film called Bride Of The Atom.
Bride Of The Monster
Bride Of The Atom was a film about "mysterious disappearances in the swamp drawing the attention of a nosy lady reporter--who promptly winds up the captive of a mad scientist out to create atom-powered super-men." After the movie was made the critics did not think that Bride Of The Atom was a "punchy enough title" so Wood changed the name to Bride Of The Monster. The reason this film flopped was because of a scene where the Lugosi's character gets eaten by his own octopus. When the scene was made someone forgot the motor for the octopus to make it come alive so Lugosi had to shake and wrap the legs around him to make it look like the octopus was killing him. Needless to say it did not have quite the effect that movie goers and audiences alike were going for. After two flops to his name, Wood did not let it phase him and quit was not in his vocabulary. Onward and upward to the next adventure and possibly Edward D. Wood Jr.'s favorite project Grave Robbers From Outer Space.
Plan 9 From Outer Space
Grave Robbers From Outer Space, also known as Plan Nine From Outer Space, was the final film of Wood's that starred Bela Lugosi. Point of fact Lugosi was only in it for the first five minutes; for one calamitous reason, Lugosi died before Wood ever started filming the movie. However, Ed Wood did not let the fact that his star was dead stand in his way, he hired a double for Lugosi to finish the film. Plan Nine From Outer Space went through hell and back in order to get made. One problem was the South Baptist Church, financiers, did not like the original title Grave Robbers From Outer Space. They suggested Plan Nine From Outer Space to which Wood admitted that that title did sound better. Problems two, three and four was "the Baptists wanted a member of their own church to take a lead role in the film and demanded that every member of the cast (including Vampira, Tor, 'Bunny' and Criswell) be baptized prior to filming. They also removed much of what they considered 'profanity' from the script." In light of that, Plan Nine From Outer Space, is about "stuck-up aliens reanimating the dead in hopes of scaring the bajeezus out of the living! Well, great heaping volumes have been written about this elsewhere."
Documentary: Ed Wood A Look Back In Angora
"Such editing from the South Baptist Church and financiers," in general, "was one of the factors contributing to Wood's depression and was something he personally attributed to his lack of commercial success." Reduced to being a drug addict, an alcoholic and with no one really understanding his storytelling abilities; Ed Wood ended up putting all his skills into pornography. On the glum side of Wood's career he wrote, produced, directed and starred in the porno films; on the bright side, since his death on December 10, 1978 his movies have become cult classics and Wood now has many followers that love his movies. He would be humbled to know that in these modern times there is even a religion based on Ed Wood, because he is loved so much by his fans.
Wood once said, "if you want to know me see Glen or Glenda? That is me, that is my story. No question. But--Plan Nine--is my pride and joy." Even though Ed Wood was America's worst director he never let it stop him or let nay sayers get in his way. He soldiered proving being different never stopped anyone. Something we should all take away from Edward D. Wood Jr.