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"Pull the string! PULL THE STRING!"
—Bela Lugosi as The Scientist
The movie consists of two parts, the first following a narrator called The Scientist, played by Bela Lugosi, making cryptic comments about humanity. At the beginning of the film proper, Inspector Warren finds 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.
The second part is shorter, following Alan, a pseudohermaphrodite who fights in the Second World War wearing women's underwear. After "his" return, Alan becomes the woman she always was, through surgery. The third part bridges the two stories by returning to Glen/Glenda as he learns the story of Alan/Anne from Dr. Alton (whom Alan/Anne also visited) before managing to cure his transvestism.
Tropes associated with this work:
- Author Appeal: Ed Wood was famous for being a transvestite and he plays one in his film--which is very up on women's clothing.
- Cross Dresser
- Cure Your Gays: According to this movie, transvestism is something that can be cured.
- Did Not Do the Research: Ed, male pattern baldness is not caused by hats.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: While disembodied, gossply voices talk about the "scandal" of a man dressing like a woman (or getting sex-reassignment surgery), we see a film of a steel mill in which molten metal is extruded into bars and then chopped off.
- Double Standard: For a movie with such a sensitive treatment of transvestism, it still manages to be completely sexist. After Alan gets surgery and becomes Anne, she must now learn how to act like a "proper woman," and certainly can't do any of the soldier/professional things she used to do as a man.
- Values Dissonance: This was the early fifties.
- Dream Sequence: A good quarter of the movie is taken up by a long dream sequence by Glen featuring women in lingerie, light bondage, etc.
- Executive Meddling: The long striptease/burlesque sequences were interpolated by producer George Weiss to pad the films's running time.
- Fauxlosophic Narration
- Interactive Narrator: Dr. Alton.
- Sweater Girl: Including loaning the sweater.
- Wholesome Crossdresser