Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Dziawer Odyssey, Part Six by Greg Dziawer

This week, a particular book caught Greg's eye.

The book as it appears in School Girl.
Last night, I was scanning through some 8mm silent loops from the early '70s, loops I had seen before and that had connections to Ed Wood if not his direct involvement. It seems like I've spent the better part of 2017 poring over loops in the target zone, trying to piece together Ed's possible contributions. 

It was while watching School Girl, the third loop in the long-running Swedish Erotica series—the first 19 believed to have been made by Ed, and certainly subtitled by his hand—that I had a flash of recognition as the onscreen couple sat in bed doing homework. Of course, the sitting and the homework didn't last long, a typically flimsy narrative conceit always immediately leading to sex.

What I noticed was the book on the bed. As they paged through it, it dawned on me that I had seen a similar book before in the loop Incest. Like School Girl, it carries a number of signatures shared by the larger family of loops produced by Noel Bloom. 

Though I don't know if there is any documented proof, I agree with the general consensus that Ed Wood made (or at least contributed to) the earliest Swedish Erotica loops. These short films can be identified by a number of stylistic signatures. But I've also seen these same signatures in hundreds of other non-Swedish loops, none of which to my knowledge has ever been definitively ascribed to Ed.

That's the larger, perhaps quixotic and even completely wrongheaded endeavor in this series: interrogating the larger of family of loops to find the telling intersections. And it's in those intersections, too many to suggest mere coincidence, that I've concluded Ed Wood worked on hundreds of loops in a variety of capacities.

I'll refer obsessive Woodologists to the details from my previous Odysseys and Orbits, all of which you can find here. Below are my basic findings in summa, some taken from the public record, some derived solely from my own inferences:

  • Edward D. Wood, Jr. worked in some capacity for the notorious Swedish Erotica series for a period in the early 1970s.
  • Wood wrote subtitles for numerous loop series that, like Swedish Erotica, were produced and distributed by Noel Bloom.
  • He wrote various promotional texts for these loops, too, including box cover and catalog insert summaries.
  • The set decorations for these loops draw from the same common pool of bric a brac: wall hangings, pillows, blankets, lamps, nightstands, etc. Some of these same items turn up in the final two feature films Ed is known to have directed, Necromania and The Young Marrieds.
  • I know more than a few experts who also feel strongly that Wood was involved in decorating the sets of these pornographic loops, and there's even the notion out there that he may have edited them, too.

The book as it appears in Incest.
Back to that book. When I checked the loop Incest, sure enough, the same book appeared immediately. It's obvious from the size of the book and also the view of the spine. In School Girl, you can see the finger-grips on the edge of it, as well as gilt edging, earmarking it as a dictionary or encyclopedia. Well, the actors in the movie must have been studying vocabulary, because in Incest, we see that it is indeed a dictionary. We get a close up of the page on which the word "incest" is defined, just before Rick Cassidy laughs and casually tosses the book to the corner of the couch.

While there are numerous other correspondences between these two loops and the larger family of loops, this was a nice little moment for me. The sort of moment that rewards patience and continues to spur me on. I'm sure I'll see that book again, now that my eyes are open to it, and when I do, you'll hear all about right here at Ed Wood Wednesdays.