Girl 27 Documentary A Review
One day famed Classic Hollywood biographer David Stenn came across a story that was so big, it broke headlines in 1937. It was about an actress who was suing MGM Studios for being attacked at one of their parties.
The actress's name was Patricia Douglas and she was twenty years old. Douglas had only appeared in two films including Busby Berkeley's "Gold Diggers of 1933" (1933) as a dancer. And MGM Studios was going to protect their reputation at all cost, even if it took damaging Douglas's reputation.
The title of the David Stenn's documentary "Girl 27," comes from the call sheet of that infamous party that newspapers from 1937 described as a "stag affair."
According to the 2003 documentary, it was during a salesman convention at MGM Studios that 300 producers from allover the country came to Culver City, California to party in Hollywood. 120 girls contracted by the studios, including Patricia Douglas, were dressed up in cowgirl costumes and sent out to Hal Roach Studios where it was supposed to be a "location set" for a film. But it was far from being a film.
After Patricia Douglas was attacked and violated, she went to court. The press covering the case, which were no doubt paid off by the studios as well, said it was for fame or for money. But for Douglas, it was neither. It was a call for justice against what happened to her. But she would not receive her justice. David Ross, as well as MGM studios, walked free.
In Stenn's documentary, which is roughly an hour and a half, he is convinced by his research that Douglas passed away before he can hear her side of the story. But Stenn is able to find 86-year old Patricia Douglas reclusive and reluctant to talk about that fateful party and her lawsuit against MGM Studios. It is through persistence and patience, Douglas finally opens up about her case and what happened to her. It may have happened 66 years ago, but as Douglas recounts her past, it is as though it happened yesterday.
Stenn's documentary covers the mockery of Douglas's trial and how MGM Studios put the pressure on key players of the case. Stenn's research also alludes to the fact that Douglas's own lawyer and mother may have been paid off by the Studios as well.
During his investigation, Stenn finds the law documents. With Patricia Douglas listed as the plaintiff, the defendants were Hal Roach, Louis B. Mayer and the movie producer who Douglas accused of attacking her, David Ross.
It also important to note that on the documentary dvd, there is a director commentary with David Stenn. In the commentary, Stenn noted that in his research, he found that MGM Studios curiously never had another salesmen convention again.
Although the documentary was not released until 2007, Stenn wrote a final piece on Douglas for the April 2003 edition of Vanity Fair. In the article titled, "It Happened One Night at MGM," Douglas said that "...For the first time I'm proud of myself."
On November 11, 2003, Patricia Douglas passed away at the age of 86.
*This review was not endorsed in any way. I used my own copy of the documentary*
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2003 Vanity Fair Article by David Stenn
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