Written by: Cliff Wood on December 12th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1979
Director: Doris Wishman
Writer: Doris Wishman
Cast:Dr. Leo Wollman, Leslie, Harry Reems, Vanessa Del Rio, Angel SpiritDVD released: January 31st, 2006
Approximate running time: 78 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Synapse Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTsc
Retail Price: $24.95
All True! All Real! See A Man Become A Woman Before Your Eyes!Let Me Die a Woman is a pseudo documentary about a medical condition known as gender dysphoria. This film consists of interviews with transsexuals and vignettes’ that are base loosely on real actual events.
Films about transsexuals are not exactly a genre/theme that has been explored thoroughly by Hollywood. Over twenty years before Doris Wishman directed Let Me Die a Woman another auteur filmmaker named Ed Wood would attempt his own gender dysphoria film Glen or Glenda? Let Me Die a Woman quickly shifts away from trying to take its subject matter serious and this abrupt shift in direction actually makes the films all that more enjoyable.
Porn icons Harry Reems and Vanessa Del Rio both have brief cameos in the film. Let Me Die a Woman is not one of Doris Wishman’s better films and the direction in this film is pretty standard. The best moments in the film revolve around the actress named Leslie who according to the audio commentary which she appears on had never seen the film before and was even disgusted by what she was seeing. There are a few moments that push the boundaries of good taste like when a man who wants a sex change gives himself one by using a chisel to chop his penis off. Another key moment is when the doctor has one of the transvestites show off her new vagina by shoving a dildo in and out.
Let Me Die a Woman is a crudely made film that which incorporates actually operation footage from sex changes. There is very little spoken dialog outside of Dr. Leo Wollman who kind of serves as the films guide and narrator. The film is filled with soft score vignettes’ that feel out of place and at times disrupt the flow of the rest of the film. Despite some of its shortcomings this film still remains interesting, entraining and most of all be prepared to be shock by what you are about to see.
Synapse presents Let Me Die a Woman in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. This progressive scan transfer was sourced from the films original 35MM negative. The colors look nicely saturated and black levels remain strong through out. Details look sharp through out in the background and foreground. There are no noticeable problems with compression, artifacts or edge enhancement. There is some minor print damage and grain is noticeable through out. Overall this is another first rate transfer from Synapse.
This release comes with only one audio option a Dolby Digital mono English audio mix. The dialog sound crisp and the music and effects sound evenly balanced. There is some noticeable background hiss that is present through out, still nothing that ever becomes to distracting. Overall this mono audio mix more then gets the job done.
Extras for this release include a section titled “trailers and promo spots” which includes the films original trailer and three promo spots for the film. Other extras include a radio spot and alternative opening credits for the film. Rounding out the extras is an audio commentary with Doris Wishman archivist Michael Bowen and Leslie the star of the film. The audio commentary is lively as both participants have plenty to say about the film and Doris Wishman.
This release also comes with liner notes written by Michael Bowen. These liner notes are detailed and informative as they cover every aspect about the history of this films production. Also this DVD’s cover art is one of the most stylishly and cool looking covers that I have seen in a long while.
Synapse starts off 2006 in grand fashion with another obscure gem that is sure to entertain just as many as it will offend. Overall Let Me Die a Woman is a disturbing film that perfectly exploits its controversial subject matter with its shocking imagery.