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This is in response to mravenwud's comment. You say that "girls are
incredibly naive about men's sexuality" and that "they should not let
themselves be left alone EVER in a place where there are men drinking".
Why are you placing the blame for what happened to Patricia Douglas on
her own shoulders? Are you saying that men are all naturally rapists,
and that if women don't guard themselves carefully, they can expect to
be violated? That does a disservice to both men and women, in my
Attitudes like this are part of the reason why it is so heartbreakingly difficult, even today, for people who have been raped to come forward with their stories. Patricia Douglas didn't do anything wrong. She didn't "let herself" get raped-- she WAS raped.
I was glad to see that many of the other comments felt like I did - that this was a very compelling story - a story that should be brought to light, but that it is very badly handled by the inexperienced filmmaker. Now David Stenn is a talented writer and my friends who devour Hollywood biographies speak very highly of his (I believe he's written about Clara Bow and other big Hollywood Golden Era stars) and it is interesting how he came across this awful scandal that was covered up by MGM but he seems to not trust the power of poor Ms. Douglas' story and I actually was cringing with the horrid decision to add Hollywood movie clips of women being shaken or slapped or pushed down (from various fiction films) - as Ms. Douglas begins to tell of the actual sexual assault and how it destroyed her - the forced clips almost seemed to parody what was happening (which I am sure is the opposite effect the director wanted). The way the story is told, the way he films a lot of the interviews - it is just amateurish. I read the article Stenn wrote in Vanity Fair and that is much more complex and fascinating than the film. Hollywood truly had the power to sweep all of its dirty secrets under a large rug and this story is a perfect example of that. Ms. Douglas was a very brave woman to even try and stand up to MGM but of course they crushed her with newspaper lies and huge powerful law firms. The film is still worth watching because of the subject matter but as far as documentary skill - it truly fails.
What does happen when an interesting story is ruined by a man who just
cannot keep out of the shadows and must (simply MUST) always leap
centre stage? Well it looks a bit like Girl 27.
I think I am kinder than some other reviewers who give this film a one (but maybe not than those who think this is the best film of all time --- maybe the director or his friends eh?) this isn't terrible really, just fairly bad. The story, however, saves it from being awful - it is quite compelling blend of misogyny and studio politics with a victim who is left a ruin.
Its his first film I think so maybe he will learn to focus more on the subject of a documentary and not to grab the attention so much for the next effort.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First, I must say I'm shocked of all the 1/10. I'm going to guess this
is either the same person writing a bunch of bad reviews or someone who
dislikes the producer/director personally.
I found this documentary to be a great inside look into how power run rampant in the early Hollywood 20s helped to ruin a woman's life and provide the means to cover up such a scandal. I'm am a movie fan in general and have always been intrigued how movies of the 20s and early 30s, the pre-Hayes Code era, including so much outright sexual material or sensual qualities. Growing up I always thought America was prude until the 60s rebirth.
This documentary does a good job giving personal accounts of extras and dancers on the types of activities that would occur at MGM getaways. Girls being brought onto grounds under false pretenses of a movie shoot; only to find out they're prime young women about to receive plenty of advances from numerous men. Fascinating to see how the birth of one new media outlet without much restriction could run so rampant and so free.
This is one of the underlying themes throughout this documentary. It intertwines with the main female interest discussing how in 1927 she reported she was raped at a MGM getaway. What is presented to us is an unaccountable law system, cover ups, and a insight into a woman who never recovered from the incident.
The director appeared to create this to get the scandal out in the open and shed some light onto a woman who up until the documentary never told her story to anyone. Not to a book, movie deal, newspaper, nothing since first reported the incident in 1927. The director manages to interview the offspring of many of the people at fault, impressive family members would discuss such incidents or troubled childhoods.
Overall, well worth seeing and if one isn't very informed about early Hollywood, a great film for provocative and first hand detailed accounts.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a true glimpse at life and how fragile it really can be. A young virgin, raped. Then the covered up by powerful, greedy, vicious men with no regard for just one girl. I loved this film more than I can say. I fell in love with Patricia! I adore her and feel for every single tragic life experience and painful moment she suffered. She was wonderful and the film maker is incredibly kind, patient, honest and wonderful in his story telling of her life. I loved what he's done here. To bring something out of a woman who's covered it up for 65 years, is a credit to him. No wonder Jackie O suggested he continue on his journey to the end with .....Patricia rip beautiful girl.
What self-respecting documentary filmmaker would appear on camera to
quote his book editor (Jacqueline Onassis): "She said, 'if anyone can
tell this story, you can, David.'") or go in for the close-up to
feature a testimonial from his subject ("Thank God for him")? It's an
obnoxious way to, respectively, begin and end, a potentially compelling
documentary about an incredibly brave woman.
The first half is a rather sloppily edited view of Hollywood in the 1930s with a lot of misguided film clips used to illustrate the worst of celebrity and power (and a lot of footage of director Stenn pacing and fretting and worrying and sitting with every tangential revelation cued with ominous music). The hotel room scene in which Steen anxiously awaits his first face-to-face meeting with Patricia Douglas is embarrassing. So is the admission that he offered to scrub out her toilets to get her to talk. It's important for her, of course. A catharsis, he says. You can't help but feel that Douglas is being exploited all over again so Stenn can get an "exlcusive" for his lip-smacking tabloid story.
When Douglas, as well as her family, are finally allowed to speak for themselves in the second half, it becomes a more focused and moving look at the subject herself, and the life-long ramifications of sexual assault. But Stenn can't help but to throw himself in at the end again, as savior, when he includes Douglas saying, "They should make a documentary about him."
Well, he has.
I have rather mixed feelings about this movie. It brings up an
interesting, forgotten scandal, which I give it credit for. But I felt
the movie was always straining a little too hard to be interesting, as
though the filmmaker knew he really only had a 40-minute short but was
determined to get a feature length film out of it.
The movie is a mix of a documentary about the rape and a documentary about uncovering the rape, and I found that an interesting, fairly successful approach. The various film clips range from relevant to flippant. The filmmaker's worst instincts came out during the interviews with the victim. Tossing in film clips earlier made a certain amount of sense, but doing the same thing during her painful answers felt gimmicky and insensitive and just took away from the power of the scene. Sometimes you have to be willing to let a person or a situation speak for itself, but that doesn't happen in this movie.
A documentary that could have used a lot less of the documenter, David Stenn spends far to much time on camera and does, what is to me the death kiss of documentaries. Stenn's editing forces his audience to see thing his way and no other, to feel the emotions he feels and to come to all the same conclusions he does. This is in no way anything new to documentaries, Michael Moore for example is the very master of this, now to be fair, does that mean these film makers viewpoints are wrong, no not at all, sometimes they are right on with mine but for heaven sakes let me come to my own opinion honestly. Give me both sides of a story fairly as best as possible and let me use my brain to decide which I believe. Now, I do realize in the case of Girl 27 there is no real way to show both sides, and to listen to Patricia Douglas talk I have no doubt in my mind that she is an honest woman, but it degrades her to surround her story with unfair edits of MGM convention footage with sinister music overplaying. Also on a side not I found the story about Loretta Young & Clark Gable's daughter to be heartbreaking, to hear Judy Lewis tell her story was one of the saddest things I have ever heard, it made me loose a lot of respect for those two actors. Anyway, David Stenn, let Patricia Douglas tell her story, realize what you have in that, it is all your film needs. The bravery of that women to do what she did in both her situation and during that time period is amazing, and for her to go in front of a camera and re-tell that to the world is to be admired.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film appalled me when I saw it at Sundance. It was one of the
worst I viewed there.
This could have been an interesting - possibly touching - film, the underlying story has all such elements. A naive girl abused by a Hollywood salesmen and then betrayed by her mother - it is fascinating; yet Stenn ruins it all. Mr. Stenn seems less interested in bringing the victim's story to life and more interested in thrusting himself into the camera and showing off. It is like an extended promotional reel for a D grade ham actor.
The scene of him dancing on the grave (yes *literally* dancing on the grave) of the girl's abuser sickened me. Stenn clearly has no sense of decency or dignity.
The biggest issue I have with the film besides- his constant focus on
himself instead of the story- is that for someone who claims to know
MGM and Hollywood so well, he calls Peggy Montgomery, one of the most,
if not THE most famous child film star ever, a Hollywood extra. She was
Baby Peggy for god's sake.
Since he got that huge, very obvious item wrong, it may indicate other research that is not very good either. Could that be why he spends too much time on himself. All of the time on him is wasted time and self aggrandizing. Time to watch "Broadcast News" for tips on why it doesn't work to focus on himself.
Pat Douglas's story is important, particularly in light of other famous (Fatty Arbuckle for one), and some more recent, Hollywood rape cases.
I, at least, applaud him for telling Pat's even in this not very well handled documentary.
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