Girl 27

Hollywood 1937 - Metro Goldwyn Mayer, the worlds most prestigious and powerful movie studio, tricks 120 underage chorus girls into attending a stag party for its visiting salesmen. When dancer Patricia Douglas tries to flee, she is brutally raped. When Douglas sues, MGM launches the biggest cover-up in Hollywood history. It's only when author/screenwriter David Stenn stumbles onto the story six decades later that the depth of the deception begins to come out. Stenn's ten year search for the truth leads him to Patricia Douglas herself, nearly ninety and still in hiding. Will the woman known as "Girl 27" go public once again, or will Hollywood's best kept scandal die along with with her?

"Compelling!" --Los Angeles Times

"A dark secret of Hollywood's past is revealed in this fascinating film...what an amazing story" --Leonard Maltin - Entertainment Tonight

"I saw it...and loved it" --Greta Van Susteren - Fox News

I have long admired David Stenn as an author (and researcher) when I first read his biographies of Clara Bow (Runnin' Wild) and Jean Harlow (Bombshell). I found myself wanting more and wondering why there was such a long drought. Then, in April 2003 Stenn published an article in Vanity Fair entitled, It Happened One Night … at MGM. The terrible tale of of rape and coverup at MGM, the Rolls-Royce of movie studios. It was a very compelling article, filled with more detail than the subsequent film entitled Girl 27.

In rereading both Runnin' Wild and Bombshell recently, I came away feeling a real sense of disenchantment with David Stenn. Both tomes seem (to me) to have an undertone of exploitation. It is this film that is now the the cinematic equivalent of licking of the lips brand of salaciousness that brings to mind Kenneth Anger and Hollywood Babylon. It's distasteful. This documentary made me feel much as I did after reading Hollywood Babylon, only dirtier.

Watching Stenn's travels and hearing his running commentary as he sought and finally nailed (in the worst sense of the word) Patricia Douglas was sickening. As a woman watching this, I felt violated much as Douglas was being violated by Stenn.

There is no doubt as to the veracity of the tale itself. Sad and not at all surprising in the Hollywood of the 1920's and 1930's (or 1940's-50's-60's-70's and onward to today). It is also not surprising that the story was supressed or that the lout who savagely raped Ms. Douglas got away scot free. The studios had great power in those days.
This is a story that needed to be told, one supposes. Yet another glimpse of the very sordid underbelly of the film business. The Vanity Fair article was not enough. Telling the story on film, I am less convinced of the need. It would seem Patricia Douglas, her family and those still alive who told their stories were only there to add to Stenn's self-congratulation. Yes, he is clever, yes, he is a good detective, yes, he is delighted with himself. This is cinematic self-pleasure, celluloid masturbation, a very public hand job. Please excuse me, I need to go wash my eyes after this.

As for Greta van Susteren, she loved it because? Maybe cause you’re in it Greta?


Catmommie said…
I couldn't agree with this assessment more. I think I'll go take another shower.
addie said…
You have written quite a review, very thoughtful and interesting.
What a horrible event.
The book's writer sounds as bad as the people involved in obfuscating the facts at the time, just that he is the other side of the coin, overly exposing the story in such a sleazy, super exploitive way.

The power the studios wielded, how they got so much of it and how they used it in the 20s, 30s and 40s, is very interesting. With the exception of HUAC, they were willing to do anything to protect one of their actors, they would cover up any act or allegation, sometimes a lot for the same person.
Even the Mob, in the 20s, didn't harm women, the owning brothels came a little later.

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