Film & Water #165 – Ed Wood Audio Commentary



To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Rob and returning guest David Ace Gutierrez present an audio commentary track for one of their favorite films, Tim Burton's ED WOOD, starring Johnny Depp, Sarah Jessica Parker, Martin Landau, and Bill Murray! I PREDICT you will love it!

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15 responses to “Film & Water #165 – Ed Wood Audio Commentary

  1. This was the third best Kelly/Gutierrez collaboration after the episodes covering JACKIE BROWN and HIGH FIDELITY. Great work sharing your joy for this under-appreciated film.

    I didn’t see ED WOOD in the theaters (I don’t think it even came to my local theaters) but I rented it as soon as it was available because I was a huge fan of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. That first time I saw it, I thought it was just… okay. I didn’t really get it. I knew there was something incredible about Laundau’s performance, but that was the only thing that really hooked me. I kept waiting for a more Hollywood style heroic triumph at the end, but they didn’t and I was left thinking, “So, this guy really was a bad filmmaker…? Huh… Why would anybody want to make a movie about him?”

    I spent the next couple years wishing Burton had invested his time making another Batman movie, or something more like BEETLEJUICE, or an actual Dracula adaptation! It wasn’t until the early 2000s when I was in college that I gave it another chance and really saw how charming and wonderful it is.

    Thanks for a fun episode, guys!


    If you guys do L.A. CONFIDENTIAL without me, I will defect from this fucking network faster than you can say Rolo Tomasi. I’ll join Pulp 2 Pixel or the Longbox Crusade. I’ve got offers. Hell, if Rob doesn’t have anything to say about it, DAG and I will do L.A. CONFIDENTIAL by ourselves.

    1. No worries Ryan, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for the loss of a member of the network (well, not you anyway). I’d be happy to do an AC on LA Confidential, it’s a great movie.

  2. Fun discussion. I haven’t seen Ed Wood in a LONG time. I need to give it a re-watch. A lot of diehard classic monster guys don’t care for the film, because it paints Bela in a pretty pathetic light, and is very inaccurate, as you pointed out. Bela’s son isn’t a fan, I know. And I’ve always questioned that line about Bela merchandise outselling Boris. I kind of doubt it, since the Frankenstein Monster’s image is instantly more recognizable, and because the Karloff estate has gotten along far better with Universal over the years than Lugosi Jr. has. And he’s a laywer, so, he tends to be a stickler on such things.

    It also chaffs me just a bit that Landau got an Oscar portraying an actor that Hollywood treated so horribly. Poor Bela would never be considered for such an honor, but someone lampooning him gets their highest honor.

    But all those sour grapes aside, Landau gives a fantastic performance, and the film is a love letter to this kooky group of misfits who managed to make a more memorable group of films than anyone could have ever imagined. Just think about some of the top box office and award-winning movies of the period. Look over those lists and I bet you’ll find the majority of them have no cultural relevance now, outside of serious film history buffs. But just about everyone knows about Plan 9.

    Lisa Marie (and several other folks in this film) also appears in Burtons’ Sleepy Hollow as Ichabod’s (Depp’s) mysterious mother. Her heaving bosom adds to the Hammer films vibe of that movie.

    Oh, and its funny that you brought up Joe Dante. I was listening to this early on, thinking how much DAG sounds like Dante. Even their cadence is similar. I never noticed that before.


    1. Okay, you’re to me (us). – Joe Dante

      Also, “heaving bosom,” Cfranks? Have you been hitting the romance novels again?

      I have always maintained that the Academy often rewards the wrong movie for Best Picture. 1995’s winner beat out Pulp Fiction and Shawshank????? C’mon!

      Nobody gives two fucks for Bela, Chris. You know that.

      1. Heaving bosoms is part of the Hammer formula. One part Heaving Bosoms. One part Peter Cushing. One part Christopher Lee. Stir and serve warm.

        And please make Gremlins 3 already!


        1. I’m well aware of the famous, er, characteristics of Hammer Films. It’s your choice of prose I enjoy.

      1. Well, it is a fact Bela got hooked on morphine because he was over-prescribed it by a doctor for a back injury or some such. So there’s enough basis in fact that it doesn’t upset the Lugosi purists. Also, he apparently never hated Karloff as portrayed in the film, but Bela’s sliding stature in Hollywood, even in the later films they appeared together, certainly makes this aspect seem plausible. Heck, just look at the BodySnatcher, which we covered on Film and Water, Rob. Poor Bela.

        I’m actually more of a Karloff guy myself. I love Bela, but I do think his range was limited by his inability (or refusal?) to conquer that language barrier.


  3. I’m just starting the commentary/watch and wanting to jump in real quick to say I’ve always been torn. I want and think biopics should try to be as truthful as possible. I haven’t seen ROCKETMAN however.

    All that said, I’m glad David snuck in a jab at BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY film. When I saw it, I instantly thought it was too melodramatic and Oscar-baity. There is a scene with the band that is so problematic that there are numerous articles and videos breaking down how terrible the editing is. People have been accused of essentially being coached about what they should be outraged about but it really sticks out. I may not have gone to film school and know the vocabulary but BR really stuck out as being terrible.

  4. BTW…

    I prefer the original book of THE DISASTER ARTIST over the film but so help me, Rob, if you love film as much as you do, you need THE ROOM and the story of Tommy Wiseau’s attempt to make it in Hollywood in your life.

    1. I’ve been hoping Rob checks out both the book and the DA movie, as well as The Room. I guess he’s just not interested.

      And like Rob, Wiseau bought his way into the industry. Yes. there was sheer force of will, but a bottomless checking account works wonders!

  5. First things first: I always thought Shagg was the Lugosi to Rob’s Ed Wood – isn’t the whole Fire & Water network a sort of an elaborate, long-term Plan 9-type project? 😛

    Enjoyed the discussion very much. I loved Ed Wood immediately after first watching it, which was on VHS a few years after it was first released. I see it less as a biopic and more as just a slightly fictionalized look at a segment of Wood’s life when he took a shot at being a respected Hollywood movie director. Overall, it’s actually a tragic story if you’re aware of the fates of both Wood and Lugosi, but as you both noted, it’s done with such love that you can’t help but smile when you get through watching it.
    Also agree with David’s point about the artifice quality of Burton’s films; I have to say, I often get this impression from certain Cohen brothers films.
    And while I’m apparently not as down on Burton’s oeuvre as many other people seem to be (and unlike pretty much everyone else in the known universe, I didn’t hate his PotA), I’ll readily agree that Ed Wood is his best movie. I guess there’s some weird irony in the fact that this film will not, in fact, be the one Burton’s remembered for.

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