Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 1970. Edward Small Productions. Screenplay by Robert E. Kent, Ellis St. Joseph, based on the autiography by Christine Jorgensen. Cinematography by Jacques R. Marquette. Produced by Edward Small. Music by Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter. Production Design by Frank Paul Sylos. Costume Design by Moss Mabry. Film Editing by R.A. Radecki. Podcasts: BGM: Bad Gay Movies/Bitchy Gay Men.
Christine Jorgensen was a sensation when her story hit the newsstands in the early fifties, prompting a producer to ask Ed Wood to direct a movie about her which, thanks to Wood’s wonderful imagination, ended up as Glen or Glenda. Jorgensen, who was born George Jorgensen and became headline news after a greedy civil servant leaked her passport application to the press, eventually wrote an autobiography that forms the basis of this stodgy, uninspiring biopic that encapsulates her life in a series of scenes that feel like bad dinner theatre. John Hansen does a serviceable job in the lead role, narrating his childhood before rushing through the experiences as a young adult that eventually led to her transformation at twenty-seven into the woman she was meant to be. There’s plenty of medical talk, the themes are all bolstered by doctors allaying mainstream audiences’ fears by insisting that Christine had to do this cause she just couldn’t help it. In reality, Jorgensen was quite the dazzling performer, seeing her photos and watching videoclips reveals a classy woman with plenty of poise, and it’s an insult to her legacy that the film insists on her being portrayed by someone who always looks like a man in a bad wig. While it’s a relief that plans to turn her story into an exploitative fifties B-movie never materialized, the eventual sober drama that was made goes the complete opposite direction and, in its desperation to attract a respectable audience, saps the story of all its personality.