Saturday, March 26, 2011

Girl 27 (2007)

At a glance:
The corruption of 1930s MGM studios is revealed in detail in this story of a young dancer who is violated at a stag party

Our review (with spoilers):
In 1937, in the midst of a crushing recession, the fiefdom called MGM studios was still turning a huge profit. They rewarded their army of salesmen with a lavish party. Besides liquor and entertainment, the salesmen were gifted with hundreds of dancing girls, many of them underage. The girls, who thought they were answering a stage call for a movie set, had no idea that they were also expected to entertain these gentlemen. One of the girls, seventeen year old Patricia Douglas, was raped by a salesman named Don Ross. This in itself was probably not that unusual at the time in this male-dominated, studio-dominated corner of the world. But Douglas chose to fight against the studio. She faced an uphill battle, with so many people in the area either employed by or dependent upon MGM (including the district attorney, her own lawyer, and the man who discovered her and her attacker and later recanted his testimony).

Her life was derailed dramatically by this incident. Three loveless, frigid marriages produced a daughter whom she could not talk to or be close to at times. She hid her story for 65 years until documentarian David Stenn patiently wooed it out of her, and with his persistence brought her friendship – and the vindication of truth. Using archival footage and personal interviews, Stenn places the incident in the context of the time, when a woman’s reputation was ruined completely by rape.

This style of personal, one-on-one documentary (as also seen in Winnebago Man) provides a truly fulfilling film experience. The documentarian’s relationship to the subject becomes a secondary but important player in the story.

Rating: 3 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"This stunning expose of Hollywood's buried scandal is a revelation about the movie industry's influence, and a well-documented backgrounder on Hollywood's 'casting couch' attitude towards women."
- Jennifer Merin (

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