Sunday, April 17, 2005

“Bevare… take care… bevare!”

The Movie: Glen or Glenda, 1953 (Edward D. Wood, Jr, screenwriter and director)
Who says it: Bela Lugosi as The Scientist
The context: The Scientist sums up the moral of the story of Glen (Edward D. Wood Jr.), a transvestite, and Alan (Tommy Haynes), a transsexual, with a mind-boggling speech about dragons, puppy dog tails, and big fat snails.
How to use it: As a warning. For full effect, you need to use the Bela Lugosi accent.

Glen or Glenda may be the worst movie of all time. For a while, I thought Battlefield Earth had the edge, but its images don't resonate the way Glen or Glenda's do. The other immortal line from this movie is "Pull the string! Pull the string!" which Lugosi's Scientist says over scenes of war and stampedes that seem unrelated to anything else that happens in the movie, and which you can use to urge irrational action in response to a perceived disaster.

Most filmmakers I know are fascinated with Ed Wood, who embodies the idea that all you need in Hollywood is belief in yourself. They might have been terrible movies, but he got them made, which puts him ahead of many more talented filmmakers. Glen or Glenda is incomprehensible but worth watching, just because Wood's passion for the project is so apparent in every frame of the film. He has something to say, despite having no idea whatsoever of how to say it.

Last Saturday night I got a cold call from a would-be client who had seen my listing in a new directory of editors and ghostwriters. It was the first call I've gotten from this directory, and alarmed me a little. The man seemed unaware that 7:30 on a Saturday night might not be the best time to call about a new business project, and told me he couldn't correspond by e-mail because he didn't have a computer. When I tried to call the number he left me during business hours on a weekday, I got a voice mail maze that made me wonder just what and who this person was.

Clearly, he too had a story he was eager to tell -- but I doubt now that I'll ever find out what it was, and that's probably for the best. As is the fact that this directory only gives my P. O. Box, and not my home address.

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