Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Irving Rapper Directs The Christine Jorgensen Story (1970)

Obscurity factor: 7

1970 was quite the year for transgendered films. Yesterday's Dinah East reminded me of this biopic about the first transsexual, Christine Jorgensen (John Hansen). It chronicles her life and transition from male to female at a time when sexual roles were highly stereotyped in society. Add to that the fact that this procedure had never been done before and you have a sensation in the making. Jorgensen became a very unwilling subject of media attention and the butt of countless jokes, but her bravery in living out her destiny paved the way for many people to follow.

What's most remarkable to me about this film is that it was directed by Irving Rapper, who directed Now Voyager with Bette Davis. The subject is handled sensitively and the acting is good. The production values are mediocre and the marketing campaign was exploitative. It's worth a look though, as another early attempt at understanding alternative lifestyles.

Trailer provided by Video Detective
This film has yet to be released on DVD, though you can get a copy at and it can be watched in full on Netflix streaming. The trailer is above, uploaded to Video Detective. The poster above is available from

Obscurity factor: 7 (not on DVD, available on Netflix, has cult following)


  1. I saw this on TV about 20 years ago. I thought it was OK. You are right about the production values. The sets and lighting and cinematography looked like an episode of "Dragnet" from the same period.

  2. It's still worth a look though, because of its total outsider status...

  3. Now of course you have to do a posting on Glen Or Glenda to complete the trilogy.

  4. Yes, indeed... Earlier, and quite a bit better known.

  5. John Hansen who played Christine was also on Broadway as Hero in the hil Silvers revival of A Funny Thing Happened... haven't much from him since though...

  6. Hmm, interesting casting.

  7. I read her autobiography, and it is indeed fascinating. It's a shame that this film is not more factual. Rapper directed one of my favorite films, "One Foot in Heaven," based on a true story, and an accurate look at the life of a minister (take it from a PK, here).

  8. Does anyone know what happened to actor John Hansen? He has done other things, but I cannot find anything about him online at all.