The Marla Hanson Story (1991)

Ripped from the headlines TV movies are my jam. In the world before the internet and the 24/7 news cycle, we had to wait for these movies to get the real story.

This is the tale of Marla Hanson (Cheryl Pollak), a model who moves to the big evil town of New York City but finds who she thinks is a nice guy to help her out. He even puts her up in an apartment and gives her tips to get ahead in modeling. But by the end, he’s hiring thugs to slice her face apart. It gets worse, because she has to defend herself in court despite not being the one on trial.

This was written and directed by John Grey, who created Ghost Whisperer. It’s not the best TV movie you’ve ever seen, but it does get pretty brutal in parts.

The real story of Hanson is shown here though. After resisting the attentions of her landlord Steve Roth, he hired two friends named Steven Bowman and Darren Norman to attack her. They left her with cuts that required a hundred stitches in her face, ruining her modeling career.

Hanson was subjected to brutal cross-examination by Bowman’s defense attorney Alton H. Maddox who was part of several high-profile civil rights cases in the 1980s. He claimed that Hanson had identified Bowman and Norman because she was racist. They got the maximum sentence and the judge told Hanson that he was incensed at the way the criminal justice system treated her.

Hanson would later write two Abel Ferrara films, the short Love on the Train and The Blackout.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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