Saturday, June 13, 2009

MGM Stag Party - "Girl 27"

Patricia Douglas, "Girl 27" - photo from
Who doesn't like a juicy Hollywood scandal? If you're like me you want to hear the horror stories just as much as the fun and fanciful tales of Hollywood's past. That's why I was intrigued when I came across the documentary, Girl 27 (2007), which tells the story of Patricia Douglas, a young starlet who was raped at an MGM stag party in 1937. I had not heard of this story before and that is because the powerful MGM movie studio did their best to bury it. Then director/writer David Stenn came along, did some sleuthing and reintroduced this scandal to the public.
In 1937, MGM held a huge party in Los Angeles for their top film salesmen. The studio brought them in by train from all over the country. The party started with a ceremony at the famous Ambassador Hotel with a speech by MGM exec Louis B. Mayer, but it wasn't until after the ceremony that the real party would start.
All the salesmen went to an old barn located on property owned by RKO which was used for filming purposes. MGM had loaded the barn with booze and had hired over 100 underage girls for entertainment, one of them being Patricia Douglas who was listed as "Girl 27" in MGM's studio records. Of course the mix of booze, underage girls, and wild salesmen would lead to trouble.
One salesman from Chicago attempted to get Douglas drunk. Douglas didn't drink so a few of the salesmen held the 17 year-old down and forced booze down her mouth. This led up to the Chicago salesman raping the young girl.
Douglas would go public with her story and eventually take her case to court. If you think MGM would have taken the side of the young raped girl you're wrong. MGM couldn't let the public know that one of their top salesman raped an underage girl at a stag party they organized; so, the studio went into overdrive to bury the scandal. They had their Publicity department create other newsworthy stories that were not embarrassing so that the Douglas scandal would not be a cover story, but buried deep into the pages of the newspaper where noone would read it. The MGM publicity department also made attempts to project Douglas as a whore, to discredit her case.
Stenn, the director and writer for Girl 27 tracks down Douglas to see what happened of the young girl from the scandal and to see if he can get her to open up about the case. Douglas eventually left Hollywood and would become a recluse in her old age. Stenn makes several attempts to reach Douglas, and eventually he does, getting her to open up a little at a time.
You can watch this very interesting documentary in its entirety on Youtube by going here. Also, the documentary is available through Netfilx and is one of their InstantWatch titles.
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