50$: transvestism and sex change operations. His argument that transvestites shouldn’t be forced to the sidelines as social outsiders was obviously a personal crusade; his support for transsexuals was probably founded on his friendship with John ‘Bunny‘ Breckenridge. a former revue performer who spent a lifetime talking about an operation that he never underwent.
Some elements in the film are Ed Wood par excellence — the doctor who asks the cop if he’s come to see him ‘for business or pleasure’: the insertion of stock footage of a buffalo stampede when Glen’s girlfriend asks if there’s another woman involved; the nonsensical split-screen
The moment when Glen’s girlfriend hands him the angora sweater he so desires is one of the most moving and, in all its definitions, climactic scenes in the history of cinema.
sequences. with a God-like Bela Lugosi glowering over busy traffic. melodramatically exclaiming. ‘People! All going somewhere. all with their own thoughts. their own ideas. all with their own personalities.’ Nevertheless, it is a brave piece of self-expression. using techniques that surrealists and experimental filmmakers would applaud. And. for me. the moment when Glen’s (and Wood’s) girlfriend takes off and hands him the angora sweater he so desires is one ofthe most moving and. in all its definitions. climactic scenes in the history of cinema.
it’s easy to dismiss Wood’s films because of their technical inconsistencies. but few others can claim to be pulp genre auteurs on such a diverse level. As writer and/or director. he tackled hard-boiled crime (Jailbait). atomic- paranoia horror (Bride Of The Monster). the juvenile delinquent menace (The Violent Years). the western (Crossroad Avenger) and. of course, science fiction (Plan 9 Front Outer Space) — the entire spectrum of the 50s American B-movie which now is given serious academic consideration. For Ed. it was the story — the entertainment value — that mattered. and his narratives push on regardless of minor flaws and obstacles. Ed Wood was one hell of a showman.
it‘s this side of the man that Burton’s film concentrates on. The real Ed Wood didn’t have the looks of Johnny Depp. but he did have a magnetism that drew people to him and won their constant support. Ed Wood the movie stops on a high — our hero driving off after the premiere of Plan 9. convinced he’s made the best movie ever. The truth was much more sad and sordid. Despite his involvement. often under a pseudonym. in an estimated 30 movies and 75 books. he died from a heart attack in 1978 soon after being evicted from a $30 per month apartment. For years. his only film work had been as a bloated embarrassment starring in low- budget pornos.
By leaving out the tragic iinal act. Burton shakes off the confinement of a regular biopic and aims for the spirit of the man and his milieu. [Ed Wood is a genuine masterpiece. shot in crisply atmospheric black-and-white, and
ED WOOD FEATURE
Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Sara Jessica Parker discuss a scene for “Ed Wood”
boasting a brilliant performance by the Oscar- winning Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi — beyond mere imitation, it’s an emotionally powerful portrait of a faded. drug-addicted star who is still able to grab the attention with a single line of on-screen delivery. Like Wood, Burton also found himself forming an unexpected friendship with a horror idol. when Vincent Price agreed to narrate the young filmmaker’s animated short Vincent and, later. to appear as the inventor in Edward SCiSSOi‘haiidS.
However, it’s probably the sense of working (whether thematically or literally) outside the Hollywood mainstream that draws Wood and Burton together. Both are mavericks with strong. individualistic visions of how their movies should appear. Even when he works for a major studio. Burton is difficult to categorise. And as for Ed Wood, more than anyone else, he’s in a class of his own. 0
latin lover with killer cheekbones: Johnny Depp
odging paparazzi flashbuibs on the way to some opening or other, a guy with cheekbones so sharp they should be classified offensive weapons clasps the hand of the stick-thin beauty at his side. Johnny and Kate, an embryo Richard and Liz for the post-grunge 90$.
Johnny Depp is the kind of modern-day, rock ’n’ roll film star that the tabloids love. He’s got a supermodel girlfriend and trashes hotel rooms when they fall out. He’s got more skeletons in the closet than Glasgow Hecropolis - he married young after dropping out of school, he once had ‘Winona Forever’ tattooed on his person when dating Ms Ryder, he was co-owner of The Viper Room, the club where River Phoenix died . . .
Everything seems perfect for the creation of the ultimate Hollywood bad boy - except the films he makes and the image the gutter papers dwell on don’t correlate. The sensitive small town boy who holds his dysfunctional family together in Lassa
Johnny come lately
Who is that masked man? Alan Morrison proﬁles Johnny Depp.
Hallstriim’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape: the Chaplinesque holy fool who charms a mentally disturbed girl in Benny And Jean; the goth-like human doll caught up in the sweet fairytale romance of Edward Scissorhands- none of these are vehicles for a successor to Mickey Rourke.
The trio of Depp movies that will hit IJK screens over the next couple of months also suggest that the 31-year-old actor from Owensboro, Kentucky, would rather keep out of the clutches of the Hollywood mainstream and concentrate on quirkier, more personalised projects. Emir (Time 0! The Gypsies) Kusturica’s Arizona Dream is Gilbert Grape territory: another take on contemporary America by a foreign filmmaker, with nepp cast as an innocent traumatised by his parents death, who becomes caught in a love triangle with Faye Dunaway and lili Taylor.
First up, however, is Ed Wood, Tim Burton’s portrait of the much maligned Z-grade director. Here, Depp is an amiable bundle of energy and optimism, very much the opposite of the introverted roles with which he’s most associated. The same could be said of his uncharacteristically flamboyant turn as a young man who believes he is a legendary Latin lover in Jeremy Levin’s Don Juan DeMarco.
The media image of nepp is of a gorgeous, but painfully shy young man whose mumblings and unfinished sentences hint at a lack of
expressiveness. His introduction to the book Burton 0n Burton (Faber & Faber, £14.99) gives the lie to this. it’s a vibrant, highly personal account of how Burton’s offer of Edward Scissorhands lifted him out of the pre-packed talent trap: ‘TV boy, heart-throb, teen idol, teen hunk. Plastered, postered, postured, patented, painted, plastic!!! Stapled to a box of cereal with wheels, doing 200 mph on a one-way collision course bound for Thermos and lunch-box antiquity. Hovelty boy, franchise boy. Fucked and plucked with no escape from this nightmare.’ In a mere four pages, Depp proves what those who can see past the good looks already know - this is an actor far more perceptive and talented than his peers, who has the ability to range from slapstick clown to doe-eyed dreamer to swashbuckling lover, and be totally convincing as them all.
Earlier this year, Depp made something of a concession to the Hollywood system, starring in John Badham’s actioner [lick 0! Time, but he’s still keen to distance himself from LA. From mid-July, he’ll be in Ireland with Gabriel Byrne and Don Juan co-star Marlon Brando for Divine Rapture; then, at an unspecified date, it’s off to Scotland for The Gull, written by Donald Gammell. Prepare to swoon. 0
Don Juan DeMart'o opens on Friday 26 May.“ see Screen Test for review. Arizona Dream opens in July.
The List 19 May-l Jun l995 7