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The Notorious Bettie Page
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Notorious Bettie Page, The (DVD)
In an incandescent performance, Gretchen Mol (The Shape of Things) stars as Bettie Page, who grew up in a conservative religious family in Tennessee and became a photo model sensation in 1950s New York. Bettie's legendary pin-up photos made her the target of a Senate investigation into pornography, and transformed her into an erotic icon who continues to enthrall fans to this day. Complemented by an ensemble cast of acclaimed actors, such as David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) and Lili Taylor (High Fidelity), the film brings to vivid life Bettie?s fascinating world.]]>
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Top Customer Reviews
The movie focuses on Page's involvement with the Klaws (brother and sister Paula and Irving), and her segue from photography model to short film roles that appealed to a specific demographic. There is a lot of time also devoted to the morals and mores, including laws during her era that have long since been repealed or struck down. It seems as though some of the focus of the film is a more prudish era using Page's story as a vehicle.
There are some flashbacks that provide insights into Page's character, and possibly explain the person she had become at the end of the film. However, every scene portrays her as bright, but naive. There is a sweetness about her, but there are some hints that she rationalized what she was doing as well and found solace in that until she found more solace in the church.
Some of the flashback scenes allude to her possibly being molested by her father, as well as her being raped early on. In the former case, it's only alluded by brief shots that suggest, but do not actually show any physical contact. Those are done mainly with facial expression and body language. Mol pulls that off masterfully. The rape scene, too, is not explicit. There is no doubt that it happened, but it was tastefully done (or as tasteful as a rape scene can.)
The only nudity scenes are not so much salacious as innocent, and are brief. I especially liked the fact that there was no true gratuitous scenes in the movie. Everything was filmed to portray Page's life, although, as I said, that portrayal does not tell the full story.
Finally, the cinematography is superb. A bonus feature of the film explained how different film stocks were used to depict different periods and locales. For example, the Miami scenes used a 50s style stock that gave those scenes a true sense of being there (if you grew up in that era.)
You'll come away with some sense of who Page was as a person during a specific part of her life. You will also come away with a respect for Mol's acting and overall production values. In some ways I am glad that Page's later life was not covered because it was somewhat sad and, according to some sources I checked, plagued with mental problems. Despite the uneven quality of the storyline I still recommend this film for folks interested in Page or the period depicted in the film.
This film, shot mostly in black and white with a few poignant scenes shot in color, gave the audience a decent look into the world of fetishism as experienced by Bettie Page, one of the world's first true pin-up queens. Fetishism, of course, isn't for everyone, but that doesn't mean there's something wrong with it. Healthy, safe, sexual expression is a wonderful thing, and I think Bettie Page helped pioneer this particular view on human sexuality.
While the film tended to drag a little during some parts, it was nevertheless fascinating to witness the internal and external struggles of Mrs. Page (who had been married and abandoned by her husband prior to entering into the modeling world) as she attempted to navigate through the social stigmas of the lingere/fetish modeling she enjoyed.
Gretchen Mol plays the title character, and appears to be a perfect embodiment of Bettie Page. Her voice inflection, body language, modeling poses, and mannerisms fit Bettie Page to a T. She is striking, and looks remarkably like the real Page. It would not be difficult to confuse the two. If you watch one of the special features in which a film reel of the *real* Bettie Page does a striptease, you will know exactly what I mean. Gretchen Mol deserves an award for her outstanding performance and amazing ability to capture her character perfectly.
I think that on an artistic level, the film is excellent. Admittedly, I don't know enough about the life of Bettie Page to be able to state whether or not everything in the film is accurate, but it is still very entertaining, and I enjoyed it.
However, the biggest problem with the movie is that as good as Gretchen Moll is, Bettie had such a unique appeal that Gretchen can't adequately match it - but, I doubt any actor could have. Apparently, Bettie's qualities remain quite rare.
The movie does look great and so does Gretchen, but it's still a fairly standard bio-pic. For the reasons stated above, it could have been better, but I doubt it could have been great.
I wonder if this movie was intended as feminine erotica. Do lesbians love this movie or hate it?
Overall, average, but with some very nice cinematography and female nudity.