‘Ed Wood’: Tim Burton’s Earnest and Endearing Tribute to Legendary Filmmaker Edward Wood Jr.
“Ed Wood” (1994) is a uniquely endearing biographical depiction of legendary 1950’s-era filmmmaker Edward Wood Jr., widely considered the single worst director of all time. Johnny Depp portrays Wood as a blithe yet struggling young screenwriter who, in 1952, enjoys a fateful encounter with fading Hollywood legend Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau).
Initially working with producer George Weiss (Mike Starr) on a biography of famed transgender actress Christine Jorgensen, Wood is able to piece together the absurdist docudrama “Glen or Glenda” based in large part on his own fondness for women’s apparel. The film is roundly thrashed by critics and moviegoers alike, though Wood is resourceful enough to find support for his subsequent science fiction-horror films “Bride of the Monster” and “Plan 9 from Outer Space”—both starring an aged Lugosi while earning unfortunate distinction as two of the worst films ever made.
Written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (“The People vs. Larry Flynt”, “Dolemite is My Name”) and directed by Tim Burton (“Batman”, “Edward Scissorhands”), ‘Ed Wood’ is a strikingly earnest and roundly affectionate commemoration for a filmmaker entirely beset by historical contempt and discredit. Kudos to the Alexander, Karaszewski and Burton for delving beyond the ridicule to tease out a warm and expressive depiction of Wood, in all of his whimsy, quirk and peculiarity. Remarkably underappreciated upon release, it's a high-quality 90's-era sleeper film ripe for rediscovery.
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