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"Girl 27"

Directed by David Stenn.
Release Year:  ? 
Review Date:  1/30/07


Wow, wow, wow!  I love a good documentary, even more so when a documentary takes it right to The Man, baby!  David Stenn's first documentary feature concerns the nearly-70-year-old rape case of Patricia Douglas, who claims to have been raped at an MGM sales conference in 1937.

Using a fantastic mix of archival footage from 1930s and 40s films, still photographs of the pertinent players in the case, and interviews with surviving members and/or their families, "Girl 27" takes us on an intriguing fact-filled ride as we try to learn what happened on the fateful night of the purported rape as well as how it was handled both in the press clippings of the day as well as the minds and hearts of those involved.  Judging by our crowd reaction once the film had ended, "Girl 27" affected a ton of people in ways that they might have imagined coming but not nearly with the level of ferocity that is dealt when the film is finally over.

Why is this?  In today's world, it really is shocking to see how big business would try to cover up mistakes made by staff members; it is even more shocking to see how the mass media of the 1930s handled rape cases in terms of reporting and readily-available information.  Stenn does a great job of bringing this kind of knowledge up to the present thanks to the employ of two lawyers, including FOX analyst Greta van Susteran.  For me, it was also very interesting to see how films of the 30s and 40s handled scenes of sexual assault; most of them handled it by not handling it at all, but when it was addressed on screen, it was amazing how much a man could conceivably get away with and still not "appear" to be harming or assaulting a woman in any way.  These days, even a dirty look across a table might draw the ire of HR, but in films (and handling of women off the set back in those days) it was all good in the hood.  Sad.

The only negative for "Girl 27" for me was that Stenn included WAY too much of himself in his film.  Sure, it makes sense to have him do the voice-over for the film, and it's still kosher to have him conduct interviews with the various players in this film.  But then, to have some fireside talking heads interviews with someone offscreen?  It is so strange to see the man who has already told us he's the filmmaker to have that same person doing interviews about his findings with someone out of camera view!  Who decided this was a good idea?

Otherwise, "Girl 27" is stellar work.  Please, please, please, see the light of day!

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09