Take It Out in Trade (1970)

CAST: Michael Donovan O’Donnell, L.G. Allard, Nona Carver, Linda Colpin Monica Gayle, Louis Ojena, Lynn Harris, Donna Stanley, Donna Young, Casey Larrain, Duke Moore, Phyllis Stengel & Edward D. Wood Jr. as Alecia

With an all-new commentary track with filmmaker Frank Henenlotter, Ed Wood biographer Rudolph Grey (the author of Nightmare of Ecstasy- The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.), and AGFA’s Joseph A. Ziemba. It’s a good track with a lot of information given here about the history of the film, what happened to it after it was made and how it wound up where it is now. They talk about Wood’s career at the time, that this was his first directorial feature since 1960’s The Sinister Urge, and about the state of his life away from the camera as well. There’s lots of talk about the different players that appear on screen, where some of them have appeared in other films and their respective connections to Wood where applicable. It’s detailed and informative and a good listen – these three have a good vibe going with Henenlotter and Ziemba doing a nice job of keeping the pace going when Grey occasionally quiets down.

Take It Out in Trade was written and directed by Wood during his long downward spiral into alcoholism and pornography. Long believed to be a lost film, three cans of outtake footage were found in the projection booth of a Santa Monica movie theatre and released on VHS by Something Weird Video in 1995 as Take It Out in Trade: The Outtakes. Rudolph Grey, the author of Wood biography Nightmare of Ecstasy (1992), claimed he located a print during research for his book. The outtakes were the only commercially available footage from the production for over twenty years, until the full 80-minute film’s recovery, restoration and release on Blu-ray in 2018. The eventual home video release was sourced from a 16mm theatrical print and scanned by the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA).

Mention the name of Ed Wood to many casual film fans, and chances are they will think of either Plan 9 from Outer Space or Ed Wood, Tim Burton’s biopic of the would be auteur which ended up winning Martin Landau an Academy Award for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi. Those who therefore understandably tend to associate Wood with his fifties output like the aforementioned “science fiction spectacular” or more supposedly “mundane” fare like Glen or Glenda may be surprised to find out that Wood actually lived until 1978 and continued to produce material into the early seventies. Take It Out in Trade was long considered a “lost” film, and in fact when even just outtakes with no audio were discovered and released some time ago, that was enough to get some Wood fans’ hearts palpitating, as if some Holy Grail in a cape (so to speak) had been found. Now AGFA and Something Weird have turned that “lost” into “found” by providing fans with a 2K scan of what the label is stating is the only 16mm theatrical print in existence. This is a film which combines that certain Woodian indescribable quality that is part childlike naif and part demented weirdo with a supposedly salacious aspect that features lots of naked women and sex scenes.

Unlike some other Wood offerings which are often unintentionally hilarious, the comedy (or at least some of the comedy) in Take It Out In Trade seems positively willful, with an eager private investigator Mac McGregor (Michael Donovan O’Donnell on the hunt for a missing girl named Shirley Riley (Donna Stanley). Shirley’s distraught parents are unaware their daughter has actually fallen into a life of “ill repute”, though at least it’s at a supposedly “upscale” establishment. All of the supposed “plot mechanics” will probably evaporate into dust, though, at least for certain Wood fans when Wood himself shows up as “Alecia”, a semi-lovely creature in a lime green knit dress and blue pearls. Take It Out In Trade is downright psychedelic at times and may (like many Wood films) not make a ton of sense but for diehard Wood aficionados, this may indeed be the Holy Grail.