Did somebody say “Vietnam vet sex change drama”? Despite the recent boom of archive DVD releases from Warner Bros, MGM and diehard exploitation purveyors like Code Red, there are still an estimated 40,000+ movies that have yet to make a format leap from VHS. Unlikely to hit the DVD market in the next hundred decades is stirring big box heartwrencher The Woman Inside.
Wounded war soldier Hollis MacKenzie has an epiphany while collapsed on the battlefield. He strokes a young Vietnamese girl’s face with his blood-streaked hand and moans, “This is right. This is how it should be. I am hideous and deformed. This is right.” Upon returning home, Hollis decides his only course to happiness is through gender reassignment. A friendly specialist assists in the preparations, prescribing hormones and speech therapies that magically transform the unshaven soldier boy into the beautiful, graceful Holly. But not everyone is as supportive; Aunt Coll (legendary silver screen actress Joan Blondell in her final role) is disgusted by the entire undertaking: “I always knew you were weird, but I didn’t know how weird. You’re sick…SICK WEIRD!!”
After enduring gawking sleazoids and giving an earthshaking nutsmash to a would-be rapist, Holly falls head over heels for drunken Irish caricature Nolan. Afraid to reveal her secret to her irritating idiot boyfriend, she attends a support group for transsexuals, most of which look like drag versions of Walter Matthau and/or Fred Flintstone.
In all fairness, little-known actress Gloria Manon does an incredible job as both the pre- and post-feminine MacKenzie, and carries the script’s ridiculous developments and dialogue with unexpected nobility. Eventually, the intricacies of the human heart are laid bare and Holly dances with a guy wearing a gorilla suit and novelty sunglasses while he plays saxophone on a wharf.