29 January 2001 | thomandybish
supposedly serious story of first sex change is campy and bizarre
This attempt at a serious presentation of the story of Christine Jorgensen, the first person to undergo a sex-change operation, comes across now as unintentional camp. The movie traces the life of George Jorgensen, a confused young man who has always had the impulses of a female, from his difficult childhood to his army stint and success as a fashion photographer to his journey to Scandanavia and the subsequent operation. Along the way we're dished up a brain-broiling stew of equal parts overripe soap opera and freakish psychodrama. As a child, George secretly dresses up in his sister's dresses and plays with her dolls. As he grows older, George tries to suppress his feminine impulses by joining the army. During basic training, he hallucinates that the sandbag he is supposed to practice bayonetting is a doll he once pined for in a shop window as a child. After the military, he becomes a photographer. While on a location shoot, he is nearly raped by his closeted boss and finds sympathy in one of the models("The only people we can confide in are strangers," she informs him). Seeking answers to his problem, he becomes a research assistant to a biologist doing work in hormone studies, from whom he learns he has higher than normal levels of estrogen--big surprise! Under the guise of a photo shoot, George travels to Denmark, where he stays with an aunt who is(conveniently)a dressmaker, and confides in her his real reason for coming to visit. Auntie is understanding and graciously agrees to create a new feminine wardrobe for George/Christine. The movie now descends into soap opera territory, as Christine falls for a reporter who is sent to interview her for a newspaper, and we're treated to shots of the two kissing, shot throught the flames in the fireplace.
I saw this precurser to brain seizures on TNT's 100% Weird and had the foresight to tape it, and am I glad I did. Otherwise nobody would believe such a film exists. It's hard to believe that this movie got made, given the subject matter, which really couldn't be made in any way that wasn't exploitative. Star John Hansen sports bleach blonde hair with long bangs, speaks in an effeminate whisper, and wears tons of pancake makeup. Even weirder are the scenes post surgery, where he puts on a blonde wig, squeezes himself into a corset that pushes his pectoral muscles up in a most voluptous manner, and sashays around in filmy dressing gowns and heels. This guy looks good in drag! Along the way there are various humiliations, including an army shower scene("Hey George, what are you going to do tonight?" asks an army buddy. "Line up with all the other girls!" howls another in the shower), a botched visit to a prostitute, and the aforementioned attempted rape. This last scene comes as a total surprise: it's hard to believe the censors(or what was left of them in 1970)let that pass, seeing as how such a scene would have trouble playing even now. My only explanation is that this film must have had a limited release, or one that only played to the grindhouses. Definitely a film to see if you're tired with the mediocre bad films playing perpetually on cable and pine for a true JOLT!! John Waters, have you caught wind of this one?