User Reviews (440)

  • Miles Charrier21 April 2004
    The Best of Burton-Depp
    Without question it's Tim Burton's best, most complete work and Johnny Depp is superb. Perhaps it's the total understanding of his subject that allows Tim Burton to fly so high here. The beautifully tailored script gives room for some exquisite character drawings, Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi, Vincent D'Onofrio as Orson Wells. "When you re-write a script it gets better and better" tells Ed/Johnny to his girlfriend with a smile full of innocence. What a performance! Johnny Depp is a unique kind of actor, we never had anyone quite like him. How can he manage to disappear behind a character and still bring with him his full bag of tricks, I don't know, but he does. I only wish he wouldn't get lost in mediocrities like "Nick of Time" "The Astronaut's Wife" and "Secret Window" He belongs to the world of real, great filmmakers. Better to risk with an original idea by Emir Kusturica than a "safe", tired, Stephen King thing. Johnny, remember, we're looking at you for clues about ourselves. More Ed Woods , please!
  • JawsOfJosh25 February 2004
    Burton's grand masterpiece, too bad so few have noticed
    As one of the most overlooked films ever made, "Ed Wood" does for Tim Burton what "Malcolm X" did for Spike Lee and "JFK" did for Oliver Stone, it ruins any expectations one can have of Tim Burton, because he has set a standard here that he will never achieve again. An interest in the period in which it is set is essential, given the set decoration is the film's greatest triumph. It's not surprising that Burton's first "biopic" is about someone revered in the b-movie heyday of the 1950s - that spawned Burton himself. Burton must have felt he had to make this picture because without filmmakers like Ed Wood, Burton himself would have never existed. Set in seedy B-movie Hollywood in the mid 1950s - and wisely and beautifully shot in black-and-white, Johnny Depp plays the titular character; a young, talentless, but optimistic auteur who dreams of being a film director; going so far as to model himself after his idol, Orson Welles. Despite an over-reliance on stock footage, a tin ear for dialogue, and a fondness for wacky, exploitative horror and sci-fi fare, Wood wiggles his way into B-moviedom. Casting anyone willing to step before his camera, Wood cranks out a series of cheesy movies.

    When he has a chance encounter with horror film legend Bela Lugosi, now a 74 year-old, foul-mouthed morphine addict wrecked by his lost fame, Ed sees his meal-ticket. Quick for his next fix, Lugosi doesn't seem to mind that Wood is also an out-and-proud transvestite with a particular fondness for Angora sweaters, and soon begins starring in Wood's features. Lugosi, played by Martin Landau, gives the story its biggest jolts of energy. Landau is hysterical in scene after scene utilizing the "dirty old man" routine. Remember, there is nothing funnier on earth than an old man who likes profanity. A gentle - albeit somewhat fictionalized - bond forms between Wood and Lugosi. Depp does a spectacular job of fleshing out Wood's quirky innocence and unbridled passion for moviemaking. This may also be the only Johnny Depp film where you actually see him smile!

    What ultimately makes this film so stellar is the impeccable production and costume design and the crisp B&W cinematography; it literally transports you back to the clean-cut, wide-eyed days of the 1950s. I cannot recommend this film enough if you have an interest in the world of 1950s B-movies that produced titles like "Teenagers From Outer Space" and "Project Moonbase". This film functions quite well as a time warp. I liken "Ed Wood" to epics like "JFK" because like those films, this movie doesn't seem to be about what happens as much as how it FEELS to be there; and that's what draws me to the film every time I see it. With "Ed Wood", I'm not always interested in following the story, but I'm totally fascinated with being inside that world. Tim Burton did the best job that anyone could in taking you there.
  • axlgarland24 August 2005
    Nice to meet you Mr. Wood
    It is a well known fact by now that Johnny Depp is a subtle, tender, beautiful force of nature. Tim Burton has been able to create universes that Johnny Depp can inhabit with the strange naturalness of someone who belongs. "Ed Wood" is the ultimate demonstration of that theory. You're introduced to the world of someone who appears almost a figment of someone's imagination to realise that there is something of him in you and me. What is incredible is that the realisation comes hand in hand with a personal discovery. That funny weird kid represents more than something but the best of you and me. Angora sweaters and childish dreams. The purity of an artist with a talent that is concentrated in his heart. Remember the Salieri of "Amadeus" torturing himself cursing God for giving him the gift of recognising the talent in others without having any of his own. Ed Wood, as told by Burton and Depp, is so far away from that pathology that to watch his films after having met him with Johnny's face is an entirely different experience. Everything makes sense. Strangely enough (or not) "Ed Wood" died at the box office but as it happens more often than not, "Ed Wood" is more alive today than many of the greatest moneymakers of all time. Yes, that business of time never fails. Greatness prevails.
  • Peter Kendell26 April 1999
    An Unlikely Masterpiece
    I hear that ED WOOD took just $6,000,000 on its initial cinematic release in the USA. I'm not surprised. The extraordinary thing is that the film was financed and released at all. Had it not been for the prestige that Tim Burton had already earned from his previous projects, ED WOOD would no doubt have foundered long before the cameras began to roll. The result could have been another 1941 – but it wasn't. What came out of Tim Burton's fascination with the `Worst Director of All Time' was something very rich and strange – perhaps the most un-Hollywood Hollywood picture of the 90s.

    I see two main themes in ED WOOD. The first is the dreadful fear that hovers over everyone who enters the creative arts – `Am I any good?' `Is my work any good?' `How do I know if it's any good?' `What if I think it's good, but everybody else thinks it's rubbish?' Artists use all kinds of strategies to deal with these fears – some become eccentric, others arrogant, others diffident. Without the right to fail, no artist is likely to take the sort of risk that sometimes, just sometimes, leads to great work. Tim Burton knew this.

    Edward D Wood Jnr believed himself to be a creative artist. Oh, how he believed. But he still failed to create anything worthwhile. And this leads to what I believe to be the second theme of the movie, and the reason why I think it failed commercially.

    Look at all the things Ed did right. He believed in himself. He followed his dream. He worked hard. He was an entrepreneur – he did his best to make others believe in his dream and help him to turn it into reality. In short, he did all the things that the self-help books, the daytime TV shows, the junk ballads and the feel-good movies tell us will give you success. Just wish upon a star, work all the hours there are to turn your vision into reality and you will succeed. Ed did all of these things. And still he failed. He died short of his 60th birthday, living in a crime-riddled apartment building, drunk, broke, supporting himself and his loyal wife Kathy by writing formula pornography and making sex instruction flicks on 8mm.

    America doesn't want to hear this. Hollywood doesn't want to tell America this – that you can try and try and try and still get nothing but heartbreak. This is why ED WOOD is such an un-Hollywood film – and why it's one of the best Hollywood films of the 90s.
  • oshram-36 December 2004
    The one he'll be remembered for
    It's sort of embarrassing to admit it took me ten years to see this film. I'm not really a big fan of Tim Burton, and while I never had anything against him, I've only recently started to enjoy Johnny Depp's work. Given the subject matter, this just wasn't a movie I was interested in for a long time. But sometimes good things really are worth the wait.

    Ed Wood, of course, chronicles the Hollywood career of its eponymous subject, truly one screwed up individual; a cross-dresser with a fetish for angora, Wood churned out one horrifically bad film after another, culminating with Plan Nine From Outer Space, before descending into crappy porn films toward the end of his life. It isn't necessarily a happy story, and Burton wisely only tells a small sliver of it, from Ed's first movie, Glen or Glenda, through the premiere of Plan Nine.

    But the love that Burton has for Wood and his movies shines through in every frame. Though I find Burton needlessly artsy as a director, here that tendency serves him frightfully well, as he manages to do the near-impossible; make a film about someone that plays like one of their films (the abysmal Dragon is a shining example of how NOT to do this). Shot entirely in black and white, we see all of Wood's weirdos not as they were, but rather as Ed probably saw them, through the bizarre filter he must have viewed life with.

    Depp is simply brilliant here, probably even better than he was in Pirates of the Caribbean. He captures Wood's enthusiasm and slanted viewpoint, but he does so in a loving, positive way. Wood accepts, as we must, that he was a screwed-up hack, but it never drags him down; in fact, Depp has him reveling in it, and it is that very passion that buoys up the movie. It doesn't hurt that nearly everyone else is very strong too, from Jeffrey Jones' crank 'psychic' Criswell to Bill Murray's Bunny Breckenridge, who often talks about having a sex change but never goes through with it. George 'The Animal' Steele captures Tor Johnson perfectly, and even Lisa Marie is excellent as Vampira. But the true great performance of the film, outshining even Depp, is Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi. He won the Oscar for this, and deservedly so; he presents Lugosi at the end of his life, a washed-up has been, a shell of a man who was once a great star but is now no more than an addict. Landau virtually disappears in the role, and all you get is Lugosi, every tragic inch of him. Again, we see him not only as he was, but how Wood and even Burton see him, and the effect is masterful. One speech in particular, where Lugosi repeats a speech that Wood wrote for him about once being the master of the world but now on the verge of coming back is particularly haunting, and Landau is simply riveting.

    Ed Wood is a rare beast – it's a Tim Burton film that doesn't go overboard, it's a movie about Hollywood (sort of) that isn't self-indulgent, it's a nostalgia trip that manages not to be sappy but is still very warm and caring, and overall it's just a strikingly well-done film. I was impressed on many levels, most particularly with Depp and Landau, but really with the whole movie, that such a truly screwed-up human being could be shown in such a positive, indeed, loving way. Ed Wood is nothing less than a tribute to its subject, and in that, as in many other ways, it succeeds marvelously. If somehow you've missed this film, as I had until recently, you owe it to yourself to see it. It's simply a wonderful piece of film-making that should not be missed.
  • Kristine28 February 2005
    The worst director of all time seen through the eyes of one of the best directors of all time
    This was the movie that Johnny Depp should have been nominated for! He was amazing! And seriously, this movie deserved so much more than just make-up and best supporting actor. "Ed Wood" is a terrific movie that every film fanatic will love. It has humor, drama, and romance. The thing is, I had heard a lot about Ed Wood, and was curious on what his life was like. My sister recommended this movie, and I think I might steal it from her. Just kidding! But it's worth not only a watch but a buy as well.

    Everything about this movie is perfect. I don't think there is a way you can change it to make it any better. I would highly recommend this movie any time. Especially if you want to learn about the crazy and interesting life of "Ed Wood".

  • editorbob9 March 2004
    More than merely a biography, or an homage
    I am a Johnny Depp fan, and this film only reinforced my enjoyment of his genuine talent. He's whatcha call a real actor. He's on record ("Inside the Actor's Studio" & elsewhere) as saying that his characterization of Wood was a mixture of "the blind optimism of Ronald Reagan, the enthusiasm of the Tin Man from 'The Wizard of Oz' (1939) and Casey Kasem." Well, I must add that either he left out channeling Jon Lovitz or that's where Lovitz got his inspiration, too. It is at moments positively eerie how well it works, and without feeling like Depp stole Lovitz's act--his overall character is so much more, so much else, that the Lovitz echo becomes a small part of a larger coherent whole, although it never disappears entirely.

    Sarah Jessica Parker and Patricia Arquette as the principal women in Wood's life are each endearing and effective in their own separate ways. Bill Murray is fun as always, and the secondary and bit players are very well cast.

    Martin Landau . . . well . . . Martin Landau simply left me awestruck. Depp is all over the screen doin' his best wacky movie guy and chewing the scenery, Parker, Arquette, Murray, and the rest are obviously having a real fun time backing him up, and Martin Landau is shuffling around in the foreground muttering in Romanian and writing a book called "How to Steal a Movie." Mind boggling performance, and absolutely deserving every award it got him in 1995, which included a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG Awards, and the American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. (Incidentally, his daughter Juliet, better known to millions of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans as the vampire Drusilla, is one of the supporting players.)

    If I weren't already a Tim Burton fan this movie would have made me one. He here makes an almost perfectly crafted period piece (anachronisms noted--see the "goofs" page--and dismissed), half cheesy fake scifi B movie and half period noir thriller, as a cinematic biography about the quintessential cheesy fake noir scifi thriller B movie guy. This film goes beyond pastiche, and beyond homage to a genre, although it is both. With this film Burton genuflects--no, prostrates himself--before the gods of 1950s low-budget black and white, and the gods are pleased indeed. It seems like he must have watched every movie made in America for under a million dollars between 1948 and 1962. I lost count of the echoes and parodies and pastiches and mini-homages that fill, I think, every darn frame of the movie, and which by no means are mostly of Wood and his work.

    As with, I think, every movie biography, there's the odd gratuitous fact changing (see the "goofs" page again)--you know, the "Why'd they do that when the truth wouldn't make any difference?" kind of stuff, and as glowing as this review obviously is I must also say that it is in some ways an imperfect film--it glosses over Wood's later career, for example. But it it so obviously a labor of love and joy for all involved that in my opinion its imperfections are inconsequential. Ed Wood stands proudly, with that slightly odd gleam in its eye, with the best movie biographies made.
  • Scritzy27 June 1999
    Kinship with a Fringie
    The theatre wasn't exactly filling up fast: so far my husband, a friend and myself were the only ones seated. Just before the movie began, a young couple walked in. And shortly after the movie began, they walked out. I wonder if they asked for their money back. I hope they didn't get it.

    The movie was ED WOOD, Tim Burton's homage to trash-film director Edward D. Wood Jr., which only played in Greenville for two weeks and did not show up at the second-run movie houses. Apparently no one wanted to see it. Their loss.

    But perhaps I'm being too hard on those who don't appreciate the subtle nuances of Eddie Wood's movies. To me, Eddie was a glittering bead hanging on Hollywood's lunatic fringe. However, Eddie, a transvestite who often directed his masterpieces wearing high heels and an angora sweater, was not exactly your mama's director. He was no Frank Tashlin, who tried to make Jayne Mansfield respectable in THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT. He was no Norman Taurog, who made Elvis look like a dork in countless girls-cars-and-guitars flicks. He wasn't even Russ Meyer, whose exploitation films are legendary in their trashiness. No, Eddie just never seemed to get a break. He wanted to be Orson Welles. He didn't even find the measure of fame accorded to Orson Bean! He remained a pathetic outcast, forever a fringie.

    Perhaps it is appropriate that Johnny Depp was chosen to portray Eddie Wood. Depp has a long history of playing outcasts and fringies -- Edward Scissorhands, Gilbert Grape, Hunter Thompson. Depp makes it clear that Eddie's angora-covered heart was in the right place. He worked hard on his scripts, he gave important roles to spectacularly talentless actors like Vampira, wrestler Tor Johnson and Eddie's own main squeeze, Dolores Fuller. And he was very kind to the drug-addled has-been Bela Lugosi, even dissuading the drunken Drac from committing suicide (which wasn't entirely altruistic, perhaps, as Lugosi had threatened to take Eddie with him). Depp makes Eddie appear almost human.

    Depp's portrayal is just one of several that are outstanding: George "The Animal" Steele as Tor Johnson, Jeffrey Jones as Criswell, Vincent D'Onofrio in his cameo of Orson Welles and Bill Murray as Bunny Breckinridge -- one of the rare times Murray has immersed himself in his character and not been merely Bill Murray with someone else's name. Also delightful is a brief appearance by organist Korla Pandit, 1950's television personality once billed "The Prince of the Wurlitzer."

    However, all the performances in ED WOOD are overshadowed by Academy-award winner Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi. For those enough old enough to remember Landau in TV's "Mission: Impossible," it perhaps isn't surprising that Landau was able to hide so completely behind a spookily accurate makeup job; seeing Landau's Lugosi watch himself on television was eerie because Landau looked enough like Lugosi to make it seem real.

    The film ends on a high note, which Eddie's life didn't -- he died in his sleep, watching a ball game, just a few days after he'd been evicted from his apartment.

    ED WOOD is not a family film. Some of the language is strong, drugs and drink are abundant, and many of the characters are a shade on the bizarre side. It might be hard to explain to one's children why this apparently virile man loves to raid his girlfriend's closets.

    Unfortunately, ED WOOD hasn't exactly burned up the box office. Perhaps it is because so few people can relate to someone as weird as Eddie, with his terrible stories about men in angora sweaters, killer octopi, blank-eyed wrestler slaves and, the piece de resistance, aliens with eight failed plans to take over the universe. I believe Eddie himself felt like those aliens, which is why, viewing PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE, he said, "This is the one I'll be remembered by." And perhaps that very weirdness made the story appealing to me. Having lived as a misfit and outcast, working hard all my life to reach a goal that has remained elusive, I can, to quote someone I don't care for, feel Eddie's pain. It's too late for him, but perhaps there's hope for me yet ...
  • Shawn Watson1 October 2006
    Pull the string?!?!
    If you ever seen Samurai Cop,The Room or even Dolemite you'll know all about cringe-worthy entertainment. These movies are so outrageously bad that you'll enjoy them on many levels and will be quoting them probably for the rest of your life, more so than well- respected movies. But behind every disaster is a director with heart, and a cast in need of a paycheck.

    Call it irony, but Tim Burton assembled a fine cast of character actors and made a film about the worst director of all time and in the process spent more money than Ed Wood could ever dream of. Like Dolly Parton once said, "it costs a lot of money to look this cheap". Say what you want about Ed Wood, but 50 years after his monstrosities were produced, people are still watching them. I doubt you could guarantee this longevity for The Hobbit or any of the current 40 million films that star Benadryl Cabbagepatch.

    Martin Landau carried away an Academy Award, as Best Supporting Actor, as did Rick Baker for his make up effects, but, even with these selling points, audiences never gave it a chance, which is a real shame because the movie needs to be seen to be believed, and for all aspiring or struggling filmmakers out there you will find many familiar problems between yourselves and Mr. Wood, regardless of your talent.

    Chronicling the events of the mid-Fifties, through the production of three of Wood's classic disasters, Tim Burton's biopic achieves the impossible - we side with Ed, we identify with him, we wish him and his eccentric gaggle of pals only success and happiness in his cozy little world of half-baked ideas and misguided optimism. Success eluded Wood, but he achieved a greater fame and lasting appeal beyond his short life and this eccentric movie, which will make you faceplam for most of its running time, is our portal into Wood's oddball mind.

    Alternately hilarious and touching, our sympathies lie with Wood and his ever loyal, declining co-star Bela Lugosi (a barely recognizable Martin Landau). Other characters pop up, including the hairy-as-hell Tor Johnson (George 'The Animal' Steele), wannabe transsexual Bunny Breckinridge (Bill Murray), a very, very buxom Elvira-type (Lisa Marie), Criswell - the most famous predictor in the land (Jeffrey Jones), and a beleaguered Orson Welles (Vincent D'Onofrio) - an atypical assortment of rejects, failures and weirdos.

    Burton is inclined to produce a flop, when he indulges too much. Just as the audiences stayed away from Mars Attacks!, they never even considered Ed Wood, because of the black-and-white photography, which was a truly inspired decision. One cannot imagine how much the movie's legitimacy would have been lessened if it was in color. I must assure you that, no matter how offbeat and strange it looks, this film is an absolute classic that begs to be seen. It may not be to everyone's taste, but it has a wicked sense of humor and is sure to have you in stitches.
  • Boba_Fett113814 March 2005
    A brilliant movie about a not so brilliant man.
    When you see an Indian organist playing in a meat-house with the meat still cooling in it, while a transvestite is performing a belly dance without his teeth and is making Bela Lugosi swing, you know're watching a Tim Burton movie.

    The movie brilliantly tells the story about Edward D. Wood Jr. widely know these days as the worst movie director of all time. It tells the story with lot's of humor but it never gets disrespectful, or makes fun of Wood. Instead you actually will gain lot's of respect for his passion and his will power to make just that one movie that he would always be remembered for. The story of Edward D. Wood Jr. is tragic but the movie never becomes sad. It is the perfect homage and tribute to this unfortunate director. You can see by watching this movie that Tim Burton in a way really admires Wood's life and his work.

    We get to see Wood as a filmmaker and as an individual. We get to know his weird lifestyle and his eccentric famous friends

    OK the movie might no be a completely fair biography about Wood. It takes lot's of liberties with telling the story and it only shows the bright days of Wood's life but as movie it works really well and is next to "Edward Sciccorhands" Burton's best movie till date, truly a masterpiece!

    The cast is terrific. Johnn Depp in a Tim Burton movie is always jackpot. Sarah Jessica Parker impressed me and Martin Landau truly is perfect as Bela Lugosi. Bill Murray does what he can best, acting crazy! The Danny Elfman like music by Howard Shore is really great and also great as an homage to the 50's horror soundtracks.

    The movie works both as a comedy and as a drama. It knows to find the perfect balance but mainly still the movie is just extremely fun to watch. The movie really has tons of laughs and is filled with some incredible crazy character's but like I said before, it never becomes disrespectful to anyone.

    I must say that "Ed Wood" really changed my life. It got me interested in not just only Ed Wood movies but 50's horror movies in general. It also made me a big fan of the famous Hammer film's.

    A brilliant, strange, tragic, fun homage to the man who will always be remembered as the worst director of all time.

  • Coventry3 June 2003
    A masterpiece about failure
    It's truly ironic that Tim Burton was able to make such a great masterpiece out of the life story of Edward D. Wood Jr. The least you can say is that his life wasn't. What makes this film so great is that Burton never makes fun of Ed Wood. His way of film-making, his lifestyle and his vision of things are always shown with respect. It's obvious that Burton didn't intend to make a comedy about Hollywood, but a drama about a man with a dream to make films. And he won't give up that dream, no matter what. I'm a great fan of Tim Burton. Especially when he casts Johnny Depp in the leading role. Edward Sciccorhands, Sleepy Hollow and this Ed Wood can easily make the top 50 films of ALL TIME. There's chemistry on the screen, when those 2 work together. And Johnny is not alone this time. The Oscar that Martin Landau received for his role of Bela Lugosi is perhaps one of the most deserved ones in the history of the Academy Awards. He's very creepy as the washed up actor, but very pathetic at the same time. It really is an outstanding performance. Patricia Arquette is just adorable as Kathy, the woman who stays with Edward in good and bad days. She's always giving him support, believes in him, accepts him as he is ( his confession to her in the spook house is really heartbreaking ) Lisa Marie is really sexy as Vampire. People can think she receives all her roles because she sleeps with the director, but she really can act. Very well as the matter a fact. One little disappointment maybe, I was hoping the role of Orson Welles ( played by Vincent D'Onofrio - one genius plays another one ) would have been a little bigger. "Ed Wood" is one of the best films of the 90's... what am I saying ? One of the best films EVER !!!
  • ur235156224 December 2004
    "Why, I thought he was dead."
    Although I had never heard of Ed Wood before hearing of this film, I now understand why anybody would even consider making a film about him. Even though branded as "the worst director of all time," Wood was refreshingly passionate about what he did. Of course, I can't really judge his work, but from what I saw in this movie I'm pretty sure that the critics are right about him.

    But that's not the point of Ed Wood. Not at all. My favorite scene in the whole movie is the conversation between Wood and Orson Welles. One perhaps the best filmmaker of his time, the other a young, struggling filmmaker without experience or talent, but each knows what the other is going through. They have the same problems and the same ambitions. The fact that one is a genius and the other a total failure is only secondary.

    The performances are all first-rate, starting with Depp and Landau and going all the way to the supporting cast which includes a great performance by Bill Murray. Opposing Ed Wood's statement that "filmmaking is not about the tiny details," Tim Burton gave us another great film filled with wonderful details.

    The film does not go into detail about Wood's experiences prior to and after making his first films which is understandable when you make a little research on this very website.

    This film made me curious about Ed Wood's work and maybe I'll get over myself and check out Plan 9 from Outer Space or Glen or Glenda.

  • Lechuguilla15 April 2010
    "Cut, print, we're moving on; that was perfect"
    What a delight! Dreamlike in tone, "Ed Wood" lovingly imparts to viewers the humorously delusional world of 1950s bad-film artiste Edward D. Wood, Jr. (Johnny Depp), creator of legendary bad films, most notably "Plan 9 From Outer Space". Part of the film's charm is how it portrays Wood, gushing with uncalled-for enthusiasm and optimism. Depp's facial expressions are priceless; that glib smile, those bugged-out eyes, the raised eyebrows, all enhanced by exaggerated makeup.

    But no amount of incompetence can deny Wood's passion for making films. With a big megaphone to call out commands to his actors, Wood is like a ten-year-old boy, thoughtless of the finished product; he just wants to play movie director.

    Wood surrounds himself with a motley crew of Hollywood misfits, including most especially washed-up "Dracula" actor Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau), whose relationship with Wood propels most of the film's plot. But there are other, equally eccentric, people drawn to Wood, the most interesting being Bunny Breckinridge (a surprisingly good performance by Bill Murray), Vampira (Lisa Marie), and Criswell (Jeffrey Jones), that otherworldly seer of the future. The misfit label applies to Wood too, of course, who directs his actors, dressed in women's clothes, seemingly oblivious to the managerial discordance of such attire.

    The script's characters and the film's high-contrast B&W lighting combine to portray Hollywood as a comically nightmarish place of delusional unreality. Simple sets mirror the cheapness in Wood's world. And that bongo-laced score with accompanying Theremin and crashing symbols is almost hypnotic.

    Acting is way, way above average. Depp is absolutely terrific. And so is Landau. I can't think of any weak performances. My only problem with this film is that the plot gives a tad too much attention to Lugosi.

    That Wood was anointed as the "worst director of all time" seems a bit cruel. At least he had heart and soul. Yet one cannot deny the unintended humor in his films.

    Wonderfully nostalgic, "Ed Wood" reflects back to another era in film-making, when thinking big, self-assurance, and nerve were all a young man needed to make his Hollywood dreams come true, no matter how untalented.
  • Patuquitos31 January 2005
    One of the most charming movies ever
    When thinking about Ed Wood there is a word that always comes to my mind in first: charm. This movie oozes a worthiness for loving it few movies do. Because underneath its mix of genres, it's the most unnoticed one which ends up revealing itself as the most important: affecting drama.

    Ed Wood is an all-around player. It has tons of humor (white and dark), including many comic scenes and hilarious characters. It has an experimental feel too, reflected on a couple of bizarre shots. It is an impeccable drama, full of feeling and transcendent events. But in the end, Ed Wood is, overall, a sort of a romantic comedy between the characters and the audience. I know it sounds pedantic and weird, but remember this thought when the final credits roll.

    What does this feeling come from? It comes from Tim Burton's genuine love for the characters. No matter how pathetic they are, Tim shows love for them in every shot, and he shows it so well that the affection is contagious. You just can't help but feel that Ed, Bela, Tor and Vampira have been there in your life forever. They are family.

    And just because of that, the film is so affecting. Bash me if you want, but Bela Lugosi's death saddened me more than 200 dramas. The affectionate friendship between Ed and Bela is touching, and Bela's death put an end to that. It also helped the fact that Martin Landau nails the character, playing the role of his life. His performance is one of the most astonishing I've ever seen, and clearly one of the three main reasons to watch this movie. Hats off.

    Tim Burton is in top form too, constructing, in my opinion, an almost perfect film that ranks first in his work. Other Burton's movies are tremendous, but this simply has it all: awesome performances, intelligent script, prominent aesthetics, historical accuracy (although this is not an inherent value in Burton's work, it is here), and a jaw-dropping direction. Just take a look at the scene that takes place inside the "spook train" and you'll know what I'm saying. There's a care for detail too that shows in credits, music...

    And one more thing: if you don't laugh with this film, you're dead.

    RATING: 9.8
  • roystephen-812527 February 2016
    Burton's true masterpiece
    Warning: Spoilers
    Tim Burton has committed many atrocities (his remake of Planet of the Apes or the nauseating candy-fest of Alice in Wonderland comes to mind first, but I'm not a fan of his two Batman movies either, to put it mildly), but this film he can be proud of.

    Burton usually excels in creating the atmosphere (Ed Wood is no exception), but here the visuals perfectly line up with the very human story, crafted with love and warmth and humour, about these lovably bizarre characters.

    The film focuses on the relationship of the good-natured, but talentless director, Ed Wood (who happened to be a cross-dresser, as well) and the retired actor and hopeless drug-addict Béla Lugosi (Dracula), so it is no coincidence that Burton shot the movie in black and white, playing with light and shadow in beautifully composed pictures in the style of old-school monster movies.

    The script and the direction is flawless, and Martin Landau gives the performance of his life as the old Dracula, playing a large role in making the film a deeply touching story about keeping our faith and human dignity.
  • CoffeeGoddess22 November 2004
    weird - thank god
    There isn't enough weirdness of this ilk in the world. I rated this a 10 because it is perfect in its imperfection, just like Ed Wood was. Come on, the guy did 'Plan 9' for cryin' out loud. How perfectly horrible was that movie??

    Landau was flawless as Bela Lugosi. Johnny Depp was his usual wonderful weird self. What is there to say about Bill Murray that hasn't already been said? Sarah Jessica Parker was brilliant as the not quite an airhead girlfriend/wife.

    Frankly, I just can't find anything wrong with this movie except that it ends. I just wanted the weirdness to go on and on.
  • ccthemovieman-117 February 2008
    Burton & Depp: Perfect For This Story
    It's appropriate that Tim Burton would direct this and even more appropriate that Johnny Depp would play the lead character as this story profiles an unusual subject: the worst director of films, perhaps, in Hollywood history....and one of its strangest characters.

    As interesting as the story is, I found the black-and-white photography to be the best aspect of the film, but that's no surprise since Burton usually excels in making great visual films. Depp was hilarious as "Ed Wood." The eternal optimistic attitude and silly smile on his face in this film always makes me laugh and actually is inspiring in parts. You can't help but like poor Ed.

    The most dramatic figure is Bela Lugosi, played memorably by Martin Landau, who deservedly won many awards for this performance. What a tragic figure.

    To no surprise, there is a cheap shot against Baptists, who are made to look like meddling fools, something Hollywood loves to portray when it comes to any Christian character. Other than that, it's a fascinating film and portrait of a weirdo that only real-life weirdo Johnny Depp could do justice!
  • knifeparty200427 March 2013
    Burton's best!
    Filmed entirely in black and white, the story is a fictionalized biopic of Edward D. Wood Jr, (Johnny Depp), a 1950's film director who writes, produces and directs a series of low-budget, science-fiction/horror films. Struggling to break into the film industry as a Director, Wood serendipitously runs into aging film star, Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau,) believing he is his ticket to success.

    While the film essentially lampoons Wood's attempts at film-making, its central theme is the heart-warming friendship between Wood and Lugosi as the latter battles morphine addiction. The performances are exceptional. Depp entertains as the deluded, eccentric, transvestite filmmaker while Landau is equally brilliant and delivers an Oscar-winning performance as Lugosi. The supporting cast are just as memorable with good performances from Jeffrey Jones (Criswell), Bill Murray (Bunny Breckenridge) and Sarah Jessica Parker (Dolores Fuller).
  • Sebastian19663 December 2007
    Tim Burton's best film, and possibly his most personal.
    Warning: Spoilers
    I loved Tim Burton's early films; EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, BATMAN, BEETLEJUICE and hell, even FRANKENWEENIE. However, his efforts lately has been rather unsatisfying. BIG FISH was a welcome exception, but SLEEPY HOLLOW and PLANET OF THE APES were rather dull and formulaic. APES, even more so, especially considering the awesome 1968 original (by Franklin Schaffner). In my opinion (and mine alone), Burton's best film was also one of his biggest financial duds at the box office; ED WOOD (ironic, considering the film is a biopic of a dismally unsuccessful film-maker). But ED as a movie (it's NOT a terribly accurate biographical account) is a cheesy voyage to the bottom of bad movies and the people who make them. The film takes some liberties with the true tale of Edward D. Wood Jr., a hack '50s director whose 'masterpieces' include JAIL BAIT, GLEN OR GLENDA (a surreal crap-fest about transvestites), BRIDE OF THE MONSTER and the infamous PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (despite its "worst film ever" reputation, there ARE worse; Phil Tucker's ROBOT MONSTER for example). ED WOOD chronicles a roughly 5 yr. span (1953-8) in Wood's strange, tragically short life (he died in 1978 at age 54). During this period, he churned out three of the aforementioned 'classics.' In his portrayal of Wood, Johnny Depp really owns this movie. His performance is a deft blend of child-like optimism, coupled with a cynical, con-man's cunning. Forget the PIRATES franchise, THIS is Depp's best. Sarah Jessica Parker (purposefully overacting just a bit, which works well for this film) plays Delores Fuller; Wood's long-suffering girlfriend, who eventually leaves him for a "normal life" writing Elvis tunes. Patricia Arquette plays Wood's replacement girlfriend and soon-to-be long-suffering wife, Kathy. But the most poignant relationship in the film is the eccentric, father-son bond that develops between Wood and his "star;" drug-addled, washed-up "ex-boogieman" Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau in a deserved Oscar-winning role). Their relationship echoes Tim Burton's own real-life collaboration with the late Vincent Price. It's one of the many reasons that of all of Burton's films, this one feels the most personal (even more so than SCISSORHANDS). And the gorgeous black and white photography effortlessly evokes '50s B-movies (or in this case Z-movies). Many good performances round out the film (Bill Murray excels as aging drag queen, John "Bunny" Breckinridge, in what could easily have been a jokey, one-note role). But the film is at its best when the focus is on Wood and Lugosi. In this romanticized version of Ed Wood's life, Wood gives Lugosi's final, declining years a real sense of purpose. In return, Lugosi gives Wood fatherly love; prompting Wood to become the doting son during the worst of Lugosi's manic fits of depression and addiction. In fact, the shifty, manipulative Wood only seems truly sincere and honest when interacting with Lugosi. When the aging actor finally dies (after decades of drug abuse), Wood relives their final scenes shot together (in an heartbreaking scene) to the strains of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Far greater artistry is employed in this film than Wood himself could have ever conceived of; let alone for his OWN biopic! Even composer Howard Shore's evocative, '50s sci-fi inspired musical score is pitch perfect (right down to the use of bongo drums and the electronic theramin). ED WOOD also echoes earlier Tim Burton characters; from Scissorhands (a character unable to physically connect with people because of his 'design flaw') to NIGHTMARE BEFORE Christmas' Jack Skellington (a good-natured, graceful, living skeleton who attempts to play Santa Claus; easily my favorite holiday film). The tale of the misunderstood misfit who attempts to achieve something utterly beyond his grasp (be it physical closeness, Christmas magic, or in Wood's case, making decent films). ED WOOD is the perfect distillation of this theme. Failure after failure, the boyishly optimistic Wood keeps pulling himself up, time and time again; undeterred by his overpowering limitations. Tim Burton, with all the skill and natural talent (at this phase of his career, anyway) his subject so desperately lacked, tells this story as a personal, humorous and ultimately, loving tribute to all those who continually strive to achieve that which is beyond their reach. From that strife, in murky water with malfunctioning prop octopuses, is where the story of ED WOOD lives.
  • MisterWhiplash8 April 2006
    one of the best films of 1994
    Here is an example of film-making elements coming wonderfully together, in a package that can entertain the usual moviegoers and give the movie-geek his or her money's worth. That it is also perhaps the most well-rounded of Tim Burton's films, with enough does of comedy, drama, and movie-within-movie stylings, to fit two movies is an added plus. He tells the story of Edward D. Wood Jr (Johnny Depp), who may or may not be the most well-known bad filmmaker ever to exist with enough humanity and care to not make it at all parody, even if there is comedy interspersed. His story is one that is actually quite the same of most filmmakers, who want to make it somehow and have big dreams and lofty visions. Though taking into account Wood's preclivaty of wearing women's clothes (particularly the angora sweaters), hanging out with transvestites and other undesirables, and his best friend is a thought to be dead ex-horror icon (Martin Landau as Bella Lugosi, in a richly deserved Oscar turn) addicted to methadone, the path of his story is rather unconventional to say the least.

    But the style of the film is quite ingenious, with rich and cool black and white photography, a finely moving and appropriate score (though not by Danny Elfman), and touting an all around best-in-show cast. Depp especially has a lot of fun playing this man, who may or may not be close to how he was in real life (from what I've read about him it's a fairly close depiction), and his portrayal of Wood is not at all cheating and is, in some scenes, really touching. The ones that stick out for me are the ones with Landau at his house, and filming his one scene from Plan 9 From Outer Space, but the ones with him on his 'sets', filming such drek with the passion and ambition of the greats, is really refreshing to see. Ed Wood is quite the biopic, showcasing Burton in another maturer form outside of films like Pee Wee and Batman, but with the same knack for entertainment. After all, how can you dislike a film with Tor Johnson, Elvira, and Bill Murray desiring a sex-change operation?
  • calvinnme21 November 2009
    Every artist's professional nightmare
    Anyone who considers himself/herself to be a creator of any kind - inventor, musician, artist, writer - will consider this movie to be their worst professional nightmare. Imagine yourself dedicated to your craft, day after day and year after year putting out what you consider to be your best work in a field that you love only to find, at the end of your life, that you have failed in every way measurable and imaginable. This is essentially the story of director Edward D. Wood, Jr. 1924-1978, who was voted the worst director in the history of film in 1980, and as a result saw a renewed interest in his films that persists even today.

    Johnny Depp gives a great performance as Ed Wood as he was in the 1950's, starting with his friendship with Bela Lugosi and ending with the premiere of his best remembered film "Plan Nine from Outer Space" and his elopement with Kathy, who remained his wife for twenty years until his death. At this point in his life Ed's enthusiasm for his work is irrepressible. Fortunately the film ends before he descends into frustration, alcoholism, and a series of skin flicks in the 60's. The genuine friendship between Lugosi (Martin Landau) and Wood is one of the more touching parts of the film. The men settle into almost a father/son relationship with a real mutual professional admiration. Lugosi supplies Ed with a star with which he can attract investors in his films, and Wood supplies Lugosi with work and a reason to go on living. Landau's portrayal of Lugosi is phenomenal. At times you forget that you really are not watching Lugosi himself.
  • pekinman15 September 2009
    It's becoming a classic
    Warning: Spoilers
    It's hard to believe 'Ed Wood' was released 15 years ago. It went on to my instant favorites list the first time I watched it and seems as fresh and brilliant now as it did way back when.

    It was an inspired idea for a Tim Burton film and it is about as close to perfection as a film from Hollywood can get. The casting is beyond criticism, Howard Shore's musical score is one of his very best, full of memorable moments and catchy tunes (especially the opening credits with the bongos), the costumes and makeup, camera work, the whole ball of wax is beautifully conceived and executed. The f/x are great because they are just as seedy and ridiculous as Ed Wood's on when he filmed 'Plan 9 from Outer Space', paper plates as flying saucers, school room teachers' desks for control consoles within the space ships, stewardess uniform for the female E.T., rubber octopuses etc. It is all very funny.

    Ed Wood's cross dressing does not come off as eye-rolling ridiculous, it too is very funny. Ed, played by the ever-wonderful Johnny Depp, is a fundamentally kind man, full of ambitions and drive to succeed against horrendous odds, his biggest obstacle being his own lack of talent. But now he is a Hollywood immortal, along with Vampira, played by the marvelous Lisa Marie, and, of course, Bela Legosi at the very trashed-out end of his long career; an astonishing, moving and often hilarious performance by Martin Landau.

    Bill Murray and Jeffrey Jones add to the extremely funny cast of main characters. Patricia Arquette and Sarah Jessica Parker are Ed's two girlfriends, Arquette playing his eventual wife, Kathy, a lovely performance, the one quiet and relatively sane person in the entire movie.

    This is not just a very sophisticated adult comedy it is also recommendable to kids who are old enough to have developed a sense of humor, though the cross- dressing angle may cause some parents to give pause before allowing their 12 year old boys watch it. And the drug-rehab scene with Bela Lugosi is intense, but perhaps a good object lesson for youngsters who may be thinking shooting up heroin might be cool.

    I think 'Ed Wood' is Burton's best movie, so far.
  • amadeusrye20 November 2003
    One of My Top 3 Favorite Films
    What more could you want from a movie. Tim Burton is my favorite director and Johnny Depp is my favorite actor. Martin Landau is brilliant as Bela "Pull the String! Pull the String!". I watch this movie over and over finding new things each time. I can't wait till the DVD comes to America. If you like this movie I'd recommend any of Tim Burton's other films and the Peter Bogdonavich film "Paper Moon", which is also in black and white.
  • Funky A13 January 2000
    A excellent film
    Tim Burton once again captured my heart! This movie is fantastic! The acting is absolutely fantastic! Martin Landau is incredible as Bela Lugosi and Johnny Depp is great as Edward D. Wood Jr. While not as impressive as other movies from Burton from a visual point of view, it is still a visually charming movie. I believe it was a very good idea to do this movie in black and white. It is funny AND touching... You laugh and you are moved by this movie which tells the story of the man who was declared the worst director of all time. A great supporting cast and a wonderful script make this movie a must-see.

    10 out of 10
  • bob the moo18 April 2004
    If you didn't laugh about it you'd cry - so Burton wisely takes the route of weirdly dark comedy
    Ed Wood is a frustrated actor and director who's small theatre productions barely can get a good word said about them. When a cheap little production company advertises a project about sex change, Wood jumps at the chance and uses his personal fetish for women's clothing as the hook to get the job. Despite his final project being laughed out of the major studios, Wood now has the taste for it and starts to try and get funding to make his own films - aided by the ailing star Bela Lugosi who is desperate for work to help fund his habits. With a collection of freaks and oddballs, Wood made what are now considered to be some of the worst films ever made.

    Some things in life are depressing and it is often the case that we try to look on the bright side and make jokes about the situation as an attempt to deal with it. I'm from Northern Ireland and my humour is quite dark and gallows style simply because that is the kind of comedy I grew up with was draw from the background of murder and violence - gallows humour is an appropriate term. This film may not be based on gallows humour but it is such a potentially depressing story that the only way to do it and make it enjoyable is to tell it with humour. Burton treats his subject with a great deal of affection and thus makes this film a funny tale of a dreamer who we know will never see his dreams fulfilled in the way he would like. The story is funny but not in the cruel mocking way that it could have been but in a fanciful way that is amusing and all the better for being based on truth. This strand continues all the way through the film and helps us to like Wood even if it is impossible to defend his films - the ending is perfectly upbeat considering that Wood then ended his life an alcoholic making cheap nude pictures. The characters are exaggerated but still quite true to the real life people they represent (I take this from comments made in documentaries).

    As director, Burton is excellent. He gives the whole film an otherworldly feel that is very fitting for a tale that involves characters that are very weird indeed. The affectionate approach that Burton has for Wood really helps - I wonder does he relate to the guy just trying to make the films that appeal to him or what it is that makes him feel this way towards him? Either way the end result is very good and it stands out as a film that is pretty much without flaw. I questioned the film's inclusion in the imdb top 250 but then I thought well, what is wrong with it? I had to admit that almost nothing is wrong - the only thing would be that the story may not be to everyone's tastes and not everyone will buy into Burton's affectionate look at Wood.

    The cast is led by a magnificent performance by Depp who I have long maintained is one of the finest actors (or at least bravest) of my generation. Here he continues Burton's affectionate approach by portraying Wood as a man filled with hope and dreams - even doing a good job of turning cross dressing into an amusing quirk. The cast is truly all star but they all do a great job playing their characters. Landau's Oscar may have had a touch of sentimentality about it but it was still deserved - he plays Lugosi really well and manages the difficulties of his drug addiction really well to make him both amusing but deeply sympathetic. The support cast includes good turns from Parker, Arquette (quite interchangeable really!), Jones, Murray, Starr, D'Onofrio and Spradlin. All the cast do well but it is those that play Wood's wooden cast members that do the best job - managing to do both natural performances outside of Wood's movie but also doing justice to just how bad their characters really were!

    Overall this is a great movie but the tale of a rubbish movie director who enjoys cross-dressing and hangs out with a group of weirdoes is likely not to be to everyone's taste. Regardless of this, if it interests you then you should be pleased with a slick movie that takes an amusing and affectionate look at what is a fairly depressing story.
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