Ed Wood-attachment0

Ed Wood

Movie Information

In Brief: More or less true -- but more true in spirit than fact -- this is the story of bargain-basement, cross-dressing filmmaker Edward D. Wood, Jr. (Johnny Depp), centering on his strange relationship with down-on-his-luck horror icon Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau). A quirky, warm and loving tribute to one of cinema's most original characters. So what if he couldn't make a good movie? Possibly Tim Burton's best film. Landau won a well-deserved Oscar for his Bela Lugosi.
Genre: Fantasticated Biographical Drama
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette, Jeffrey Jones
Rated: R

Two things you should know before undertaking Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994): Edward D. Wood, Jr. (Johnny Depp) is not the worst filmmaker who ever lived, and his Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) is not the worst movie ever made. Not even close. A much truer assessment is that Wood is the most lovably inept filmmaker of all time, and his Plan 9 the one of the most-loved and famous bad movies ever made. Wood was a true auteur, a visionary—and he wasn’t going to let a little thing like a complete lack of talent and judgment stand in his way. He was a perfect subject for a supremely talented auteur and visionary like Tim Burton—not in the least because Burton has always thrived on stories about people obsessed with things that no one else understands. In Wood’s case, that was not only making goofy, indefensibly bad (but often entertaining) movies that nobody wanted to watch, but also his fetish for dressing up in women’s clothes. An even greater appeal for Burton lay in depicting the strange friendship between Wood and faded horror star Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau). In Burton’s mind, this reflected his own relationship with the aged Vincent Price—and that’s largely why the film’s version of that relationship omits certain messy details. In the main, however, the film does cover the basic facts—as long as those facts don’t get in the way of Burton’s vision. The very funny, very touching results make for a film that is quite possibly Burton’s best movie.

The Asheville Film Society will screen Ed Wood on Tuesday, May 8, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther. Hanke is the artistic director of the A.F.S.


About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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13 thoughts on “Ed Wood

  1. Dionysis

    “…quite possibly Burton’s best movie”

    In my humble opinion, it IS Burton’s best movie.

    • Barry Summers

      Are you gonna take that from him? You say it’s “possibly” Burton’s best movie, he says it “IS” Burton’s best movie. C’mon – argue. What are we paying you for?

  2. Ken Hanke

    Well, I can’t really think of a better one, though I’d put Edward Scissorhands and Big Fish at least on par with it — and Sweeney Todd not far behind.

  3. Xanadon't

    Yep, that’s my top 4 right there. But I’d put the two Eds on Tier 1 and Sweeny and Big Fish together on Tier 2. Ooo, but since I don’t like the idea of two virtual ties, it might be time for a Burton mini-marathon.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Well, we’re running Sweeney Todd on Thursday, so you could conceivably be half way there if you can make the showings.

  5. Dionysis

    Since I’ve not seen Sweeny Todd, I’ll actually make a real effort to show up on Thursday. If only I didn’t have to work for a living, it would be so much easier.

    As for other Ed Wood films, I guess I’d go along with Edward Scissorhands a close second of personal favorites. But whether an argument ensues or not, Ed Wood remains my favorite of his films, in spite of having Sarah Jessica Parker in it.

  6. Xanadon't

    If only I didn’t have to work for a living, it would be so much easier.

    This whole “honest living” thing gets to be a drag sometimes, doesn’t it?

    Sadly Thursdays are never doable for me. I’ll have to settle for watching Sweeny Todd when I get home from work. Ed Wood might be in the cards… But on the other hand there are no less than six films showing on local screens at the moment that I still want to see. Can’t remember the last time I was this far behind. Grrr.

  7. Dionysis

    “…there are no less than six films showing on local screens at the moment that I still want to see.”

    Yes, I find that such is often the case; an embarrassment of riches, I guess. I really can’t think of any other small city that consistently offers such an array of good flicks. In fact, I’ve lived in much larger cities, with scads of movie theaters that did not offer the quality and quantity of films that Asheville does. Forget ‘Beer City’, how about ‘Cinema City’?

  8. Ken Hanke

    This whole “honest living” thing gets to be a drag sometimes, doesn’t it?

    It’s very overrated.

    But on the other hand there are no less than six films showing on local screens at the moment that I still want to see.

    Six? That kind of surprises me. Well, by one or two movies anyway. Damsels in Distress I know is here for one more week. You should see it, then you, too, can send me a heated note for recommending it. I’m expecting Deep Blue Sea and Being Flynn to stick around another week. The Kid on a Bike is more questionable, but might stay because the only thing comong out that I’m aware of is Dark Shadows, bring us back to Burton. (I should know the answer to this soon.)

  9. Ken Hanke

    Forget ‘Beer City’, how about ‘Cinema City’?

    What an excellent idea.

  10. Xanadon't

    Well there are five I’d really like to see before they leave town: Being Flynn, The Kid on the Bike, Damsels in Distress, The Avengers (I see no reason to think it’ll be anything less than an enjoyable time at the movies, plus “I want in on the conversation too guys!”), and The Raven (Cusak fan + genre film fan = yes, I do want to see it).

    And then Deep Blue Sea and Footnote combine to make six total the way I see it, especially since in a less crowded month either of them could warrant top priority on their own, easily enough.

    And mind, even this list is pruned down a bit since I’ve managed to dismiss -for now anyway- my crush on Emily Blunt and fondness for Jason Segal.

  11. Ken Hanke

    Well, Footnote is the only casualty of the week on your list, i.e., it’ll be gone come Friday.

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