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If there's anything anyone who has more than a passing interest about Hollywood soon comes to understand,is that beneath that ritzy glitzy exterior,lies a place with a sordid and sometimes ugly past.David Stenn while doing research on his book about Jean Harlow(at the point,coincidentally,about her death)accidentally uncovered a reference to one Patricia Douglas.Patricia was one of thousands of extras then employed in Hollywood.She was just 17,was a quick learner and was competent at her work.In May of /37 came what was thought a casting call for her and many other girls.In reality it was to attend the (Hal)Roach Ranch(where many Roach films had been shot),where she and others would help to entertain a bevy of MGM salesmen brought into Hollywood for a multi day bash.The drinks flowed and the entertainment consisted of,among others,Laurel and Hardy.They were greeted by an exuberant Louis B.Mayer. David Stenn uncovered a still extant file on Patricia Douglas and actual film footage of the arrival and start of the salesmen fete.It wasn't that long into the party when Patricia Douglas was raped by one of the salesmen.Patricia sued MGM,a bold move for the 30s,and the wagons at MGM immediately circled.Misinformation and behind the scenes manipulation all but crushed any hopes that Patricia would ever succeed with her claim. Fast forward to the early 2000s and David Stenn enters the picture trying to put what little pieces there are of the puzzle, with what he slowly but surely uncovers,together.He interviews Roach biographer and Laurel and Hardy author Richard Bann as they walk in the area of what was once the Roach Ranch.Read more ›
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
A MUST-See documentary for vintage Hollywood film fans!Oct. 2 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
It's now two days since I watched this fascinating documentary about the studio power of MGM in the 1930s and I'm still hearing the voice of Patricia Douglas, a minor "extra" who was raped by an MGM sales rep at an MGM-sponsored Convention in 1937. What? You never heard of Patricia Douglas or the case? Neither have most folks. But when journalist David Stenn was researching his bio of Jean Harlow the case popped up. He dug further and reported his findings in a long article in Vanity Fair magazine in 2003. Then he went further and edited his interview footage - of the reclusive Douglas, who he found still living at age 85, and legal experts - with some feature film clips into this compelling 80-minute film.
There was a whole file on the case in the USC Film Archives that hadn't been touched since the 1930s and provided lots of info for Stenn. The filmmaker narrates the film - and even interviews himself! - in a pleasant voice but the voice you won't forget is that of Douglas. It's gruff and worn and angry. After 65 years, she is seeing her story come to light. Sure, the studio (MGM) is now a different corporate entity, having been swallowed up by Ted Turner, but there probably is still a "casting couch" out there.
The impeccably researched and creatively edited film is a must for anyone interested in the Hollywood films of the 1930s or 40s. The bonus features include the 10-minute Paramount short "Hollywood Extra Girl", which is - sadly - cropped too close so that the top and bottom of picture are cut off as well as a Director's Commentary by Stenn. The commentary really adds to the understanding of the case and Stenn's voice is engaging, making it almost essential to listen to.
I dove into this DVD with no prior knowledge of it's subject, except for the blurb on the DVD case. I did not leave my TV set from the opening title. And I'm still hearing Douglas's voice telling her story!
Steve Ramm "Anything Phonographic"
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Rape victim "Girl 27" finally gets her sayOct. 20 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
In 1937, Patricia Douglas, a straight-laced, 17-year-old studio dancer was sent by a casting agent to what she thought was a film call. She ended up at a MGM Studios sales convention "stag" party where she was manhandled and eventually raped and beaten by an out-of-town salesman.
When she tried to seek justice, she got screwed again - this time by everyone from top MGM brass, the district attorney, the press, and key witnesses to her doctor, lawyer and own mother. The emotional ripple effect of that crime has been felt by three generations to-date.
Flash forward 65 years to Hollywood historian, author and filmmaker David Stenn's discovery of Douglas' story in old newspapers while researching a Jean Harlow biography and pursuing the truth, much to the chagrin of Douglas who gave up hoping for justice long ago.
GIRL 27 is not only a documentary about a powerful studio scandal and cover-up, it's also the story of how an 85-year-old woman overcomes decades of pain, fear and disappointment to learn to trust someone again when they say "I want to help you find justice, vindication, peace." As such, I liked that the film shows the development of Stenn and Douglas' friendship and the emotional bond they formed.
The most compelling part of the film is Douglas' on-camera recollections, speaking about the rape for the first time ever. (She was never interviewed for any of the exploitative newspaper articles of the day.) This is a woman who needed to feel, and did ultimately feel, heard and understood.
There's lot to love about this film besides the courage and heroic beauty of Patricia Douglas. Vintage film clips showing how violence against women was treated by Hollywood at the time, interviews with family members of key players in the story and insights provided by experts such as actress Diana Carey (herself a victim of studio system sexual harassment), author Judy Lewis (the daughter of Clark Gable and Loretta Young, and victim of a Hollywood scandal cover-up), attorney Michael Taitelman and legal analyst Greta Van Susteren.
I'd highly recommend viewing the DVD while listening to Stenn's audio commentary track. He provides lots of relevant insights and additional facts pertaining to the case and Hollywood history, as well as background tid-bits on the making of the documentary. I thought it was one of the more compelling commentary tracks I've heard in years.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
An Incredible FilmOct. 18 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
This is an incredible film, a powerful film, a love letter to someone who was deeply and tragically wronged. This is a film that shows how sadness, dispair and actions can be carried down through the generations. It is also a film that shows that the system may try to destroy you but if you believe in yourself, the truth will come out somehow. This is a film that is moving in every way a film can be. David Stenn, the filmmaker has done alot of good with his film. He has helped to change lives, bring closure, and allowed Patricia Douglas to feel that she is not alone in her struggles and regrets. An absolute must see. You won't regret it.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
compelling and a must see for fans of Hollywood historyOct. 14 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
I have long been a fan of David Stenn's biographies of Clara Bow ("Runnin' Wild") and Jean Harlow ("Bombshell"). I have read many film bios and Stenn's are the most compelling and painstakingly researched ones I have ever read. He leaves no stone unturned. Naturally I was very eager to see GIRL 27 and to find out how he would translate his work into the form of a documentary.
I was impressed with the results. GIRL 27 is the story of Patricia Douglas, a dancer who was brutally raped at an MGM party. While I often romanticize the "Golden Age" of Hollywood, this film is a searing, compelling and fascinating look at the other side of that illusion.
I had no problem with Stenn putting himself into the story since he was such an integral part of it.
Stenn really helped Douglas to have the last word and to achieve the peace and vindication that had clearly eluded her until now.
GIRL 27 is a haunting, compelling and powerful documentary that will stay with you long after the final credits.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A must seeOct. 23 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
I saw this movie in a theatre last summer and found it to be a sensitive and moving portrayal of the terrible consequences of rape on one woman's life. Patricia Douglas, along with many other chorus girls, was lured to a remote location under false pretenses (she was told it was a casting call) only to find herself in the midst of a drunken bash sponsored by MGM for its exclusively male sales reps. She was raped by one of these men. Not only did Douglas have to suffer this shameful act of violence, but after being brave enough to bring charges against the perpetrator, she was hung out to dry by everyone that should have protected her, and subjected to further degrading treatment.
The realization that the system would do nothing to protect her or attempt to right the wrong that was committed against her left what was once a carefree and confident young woman completely shut down emotionally. She lived out the rest of her life unable to truly love anyone, even her own child. "Girl 27" shows how the consequences of a single act of selfish violence played out over a long, lonely and unhappy life.
Patricia Douglas is powerfully moving in her descriptions of the rape, and almost painfully honest about her own failures in her subsequent life, the later part of which was spent living as a recluse, in poor health, friendless and estranged from her only daughter. Douglas is amazingly articulate about her experience, and her voice will stay with you a long time.
I was touched by David Stenn's dedication to the truth and his sensitivity towards Douglas, who was without question a difficult person. She came to love and trust him in the process of telling her story. So not only is telling her story a liberation for her, but telling it to Stenn, who clearly came to love and admire her, allowed Douglas to love and trust someone again before she died.
Though I think this movie is worth seeing for Douglas alone -- she is without equal as an oral witness of the consequences of her era's sexism -- it's also a fascinating study of the Hollywood studio system and the image of women at the time, with relevant film clips and interviews woven in throughout.