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The reclusive Patricia Douglas comes out of hiding to discuss the 1937 MGM scandal, in which the powerful film studio tricked her and over 100 other underage girls into attending a stag party, where she was raped.
Executive Producer Sean Penn presents "Witch Hunt," a gripping indictment of the American justice system told through the lens of one small town. Voters in Bakersfield, California elected a tough on crime district attorney into office for more than 25 years. During his tenure he convicted dozens of innocent working class moms and dads. They went to prison, some for decades, before being exonerated. He remains in office today. This story on a micro level mirrors what the US has experienced over the last eight years. When power is allowed to exist without oversight civil rights are in jeopardy. Written by
There are more than 2 million people in American prisons today. This film is dedicated to the thousands of them who are actually innocent.
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There isn't enough money in the world to pay back the men and women who were (and were not) featured in this film as the victims of false accusations and imprisonment.
That being said, I do wish the documentary had at least asked some obvious questions. The DA's motive for arrests and convictions was clearly enough stated; get convictions seeming to clear the county of "bad guys" thereby furthering political careers.
But who was doing the arresting? Who was handing down orders to do so? Who decided which people would get arrested and charged? Who was coming up with the elaborate details of these false charges? These questions leave a lot to wonder about. And in a film where you (or at least I) believe what is being put forth, which is the truth of the accused, you want there to be no stone unturned. You don't want there to be any question for the doubter that if the "right" people had been asked the "right" questions, we might have a different result.
Ask the damn questions. Get answers from the people who still may even profit from the long ago verdicts. And if you can't, say so. At least say something about having tried.
Make no mistake - I think this movie does a fantastic job on shedding light on a very dark side of humanity. And It left me wanting to give the most heartfelt hug to ALL the victims (both the charged and the then-children).
Still, other questions include; What of the neighbors and surrounding community? What about family? What about friends or former friends? Why weren't any of them interviewed? What did they think originally? What do they think now in lieu of the reversals of convictions? The first person approach is powerful and poignant. But those prone to the sort of hysteria which prompted this sort of thing to gain ground in the first place will ask, with sword in hand, "why?"
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