As a Los Angeles native and a film history buff, I am endlessly fascinated by little-known tales that continue to emerge from Hollywood's storied past. Girl 27, now available for free streaming courtesy of our friends at SnagFilms, first caught my eye when it was released on DVD a couple of years ago: A woman hired as a movie extra in the 1930s is instead raped at an MGM party. If that real-life premise sounds intriguing, or causes the hairs on the back of your head to stand up with righteous indignation, you might want to check out the movie.
Beginning on a Biblical note with a quote that "nothing hidden ... will not be disclosed," the documentary mixes black and white archival footage with recent interviews of outraged observers looking back at the events of 1937. MGM, the biggest studio in the world at the time, sponsored a convention for its sales force; dozens of young women were lured there with the promise of work as an extra or bit player. Instead, they were wined and raped. Well, at least one woman was: Patricia Douglas, a 20-year-old lady who was brave enough to press a lawsuit against the studio, only to be discredited and "disappeared" from the legal record. David Stenn was finishing a book on Jean Harlow when he learned about what happened and was compelled to write about it, spurred on by his editor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. As narrator and director, he's somewhat self-serving (as pointed out by an irritated Carina Chocano in her Los Angeles Times review), but the doc brings a shameful, unknown story to light.
Watch Girl 27 in its entirety for free, right here at Cinematical -- after the jump!