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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> June 2000 >> Ed Wood

Ed Wood

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
5 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
June 2000
IMDB Name:
Ed Wood (1994)
Tim Burton
comedy, drama
MPAA Rating:
R for some strong language.

Bold Burton

Tim Burton is certainly one of the more outlandish filmmakers working today. Consider the offbeat things he's tackled like Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, and Edward Scissorhands. It seems somewhat natural for him to take on the task of bringing Edward D. Wood Jr., Hollywood's worst director, to the screen. I am delighted that he is daring enough to film in black and white, although in retrospect it's hard to imagine the movie any other way. Cinematographer Stefan Czapsky certainly knows how to work it. I greatly enjoyed seeing Wood chronicled using some of the cinematic tricks that Wood himself employed. The opening and closing shots of the Hollywood sign and the theaters are masterfully done, and a wonderful nod to the cheesy modelwork in Plan 9.

Most importantly, I'm surprised that Burton is able to create such fantastic human characters, when his strength until now has been quasi-human creatures of fantasy. The performances by Martin Landau and frequent Burton collaborator Johnny Depp are things of wonder. Even in close-up, both are unrecognizable, and play their parts with their whole body. Without a doubt, some credit for the warmth of the characters must be attributable to the writers, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who have since collaborated on two other well-received biopics: Man on the Moon and People vs. Larry Flynt.


There are quite a few familiar faces floating around in Ed Wood. I still remember George 'The Animal' Steele from his wrestling days. I can't believe how much they make him look like Tor Johnson. Ned Bellamy, the chiropractor who stood in for Bela Lugosi, was a major character in a late episode of "Seinfeld". Max Casella was a real surprise: Vinnie Delpino from "Doogie Howser, M.D."! Jeffrey Jones is a personal favorite of mine, whose Emperor in Amadeus and Principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off are extremely memorable. His Criswell impression may not quite make the list, but it's quite good.

Perhaps the greatest delight in the casting, at least for me, is Maurice LaMarche as the voice of Orson Welles. LaMarche provided the voice for The Brain on "Animaniacs", and is now Kif Kroker of "Futurama". Of course, I'm starting to think that the voice for The Brain was modeled after Welles, a connection I didn't make until I saw Ed Wood. I'm reminded of a friend who mistook a reference to The Graduate as a reference to American Pie's reference to The Graduate.

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Copyright 2000-2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.