Excellent if disturbing documentary about Patricia Douglas, a 20-year-old movie extra in 1937 who was hired to "entertain" at a rowdy convention of MGM studio salesmen, and wound up being raped by one of them. She defied conventions of the day and actually stood up and carried out a lawsuit against MGM, but in those days, the studios ran Los Angeles politics, and her case was mysteriously dismissed and forgotten.
Nearly 70 years later, pushy Vanity Fair writer David Stenn stumbled across Douglas's shocking story and was bewildered at why, among all the potent Hollywood scandals remembered today, this one was erased from public memory. So he set out to find out what happened – and discovered an elderly Douglas, living in seclusion in Las Vegas.
Girl 27 is more or less a filmed version of Stenn's Vanity Fair article, and if it seems off-putting to some that Stenn, who directed the film, also narrates, frequently appears on camera, and even insinuates himself into the story, I found it a refreshingly journalistic approach to documentary filmmaking. Stenn's aware that you cannot observe something without changing its behavior with your observation, and Girl 27 smartly reflects that. But in the end, the story is less a chunk of tawdry Hollywood lore and more a sad portrait of rape's longterm emotional effects. Saddest of all is that, 70 years on, MGM still wouldn't let Stenn use any of their own archival footage. Some people just won't own up to the past.