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Laramie Movie Scope: Ed Wood

A story of some glorious losers

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 7, 1994 -- ``Ed Wood'' is a truly weird movie by Tim Burton, but wait, that's redundant. It is about a man who is almost universally regarded as the worst movie director of all time (for more background on this, see the film ``It Came From Hollywood'').

In the 1950's era of grade-z drive-in movies, Ed Wood directed two of the worst, ``Glen or Glenda'' and ``Plan 9 from Outer Space.'' Wood was, like Quentin Tarantino, a man who lived to make movies, but unlike Tarantino, had no talent. Wood (well played by Johnny Depp) couldn't say no to any shot, every take was ``perfect.'' In his defense, he made films on shoestring budgets in a matter of days. He wrote his own scripts and even starred in one film as well as directing it.

Even more curious than Wood himself (he was a transvestite) were his small band of conspirators who helped him make his films, fellow transvestite Bunny Breckinridge (played by a subdued Bill Murray) and Wood's long-suffering fiance, Dolores Fuller, played by Sarah Jessica Parker.

Wood is also befriended by a couple of television personalities, the Amazing Criswell (Jeffrey Jones ``Stay Tuned'') and Vampira (Lisa Marie) as well as a pro wrestler, Tor Johnson (played by George ``The Animal'' Steele).

His real meal ticket, however, came about because of a chance encounter with the great horror actor Bela Lugosi (at a funeral parlor of all places). He becomes Lugosi's best friend at a time when Lugosi, a drug addict, had been utterly rejected by the Hollywood establishment. Using Lugosi's friendship, he is able to leverage some movie deals.

The bleak, black humor of this black and white film manages to celebrate Wood's passion for filmmaking. Martin Landau's performance as Lugosi is inspired. He should win an Oscar for it. The rest of the film, unfortunately, is not that good. It moves painfully slow in places. The story itself is interesting and tragic, but hardly compelling, because Wood deserves no success in his chosen field and doesn't have the brains to know it. It rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)