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Girl 27

A movie directed by David Stenn

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An Absence of Progress

  • Aug 11, 2009
Like so many, I had no knowledge about this story, nor heard of Patricia Douglas. The extent of effort in Hollywood, beginning with MGM Studios, to create this cover-up is... unfortunately, sadly, not surprising. Our world has changed little, and rape today is hushed up as much as it was in 1937 (note the stories of women raped in the military, or the numbers of women being raped at the very moment of this writing - 200,000 reported cases in just the past 8 months in the Congo), if not indeed become a sport, a form of entertainment, an industry. It is alarming to see how the desensitization process was begun already in 1937, from common themes in Betty Boop cartoons, the scantily clad female constantly being chased by lecherous men who carry her away screaming to do... what? Or movies such as "The Quiet Man," starring American legend John Wayne, with a scene in which he pulls the female lead (with whom he is supposedly in love!) by her hair, screaming and struggling across a field. Entertainment? It is not. Not when in such manner Hollywood has played a great part in making violence against women ever more acceptable.

Patricia Douglas was an underage dancer, a girl with stars in her eyes, innocent in body and mind, with no understanding of the way the minds of some men work. Attending a Hollywood party where her boss promised her "a good time," she was held down, scotch forced down her throat until she vomited, then violently raped and beaten. The rapist, Ross, was never prosecuted. Anyone who tried to bring the case to court was mysteriously hushed up... or given a glam job in MGM to keep silent. Douglas was systematically smeared in the media, made into a "tart," a woman who "brought it on herself." Her life and reputation were destroyed.

Sixty-five years later, author-screenwriter David Stenn unearths this little known story and pursues it. To his shock, he finds Pat Douglas, now an elderly woman, still alive. It is painful to see, how all these many years later, this woman's life is still daily affected by what happened to her as a young girl. She is a recluse who, in her own words, has been frigid all her life. She has never loved anyone, she says, because she will never be able to trust any man. She fought against the wish to commit suicide. She pushed away anyone who ever tried to get close to her. She has not even been able to have close friendships. She has never danced again. She sits alone in her house, a broken woman, and only with Stenn's unrelenting and respectful persistence, does she finally agree to speak to him and tell her story. She does so in prolonged bits and pieces, often simply stopping to say, "I can't talk about this. I can't."

Patricia Douglas's rapist by now is dead. Justice will never be done. But this DVD now exists, the story is public for anyone who cares to hear it. One woman has spoken up, even if it took 65 years and a ruined life to do it. Truth, she says, even if it takes this many years, will always come out. All lies, she says, eventually surface. This kind of violence devastates completely; one man's momentary violence can ruin another life forever. Is Hollywood listening? Is the world ready to see women as human beings? Flip through the movies on your cable tonight before you answer that...

Soon after telling her story, Patricia Douglas died in 2003.

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About the reviewer
Zinta Aistars ()
Ranked #271
I am a bilingual writer and editor; founder and editor-in-chief of the literary ezine, The Smoking Poet. Learn more about me on my Web site--I welcome visitors!
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"Compelling!" --Los Angeles Times
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Director: David Stenn
DVD Release Date: October 16, 2007
Runtime: 80 minutes
Studio: Westlake

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"An Absence of Progress"
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