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The Notorious Bettie Page (2006)


Average Rating: 6/10
Reviews Counted: 133
Fresh: 75
Rotten: 58

Critics Consensus: This biopic only skims the surface of Bettie Page's life, leaving her as a cipher, and additionally fails to place her iconic status in historical context.

Average Rating: 5.7/10
Reviews Counted: 47
Fresh: 24
Rotten: 23

Critics Consensus: This biopic only skims the surface of Bettie Page's life, leaving her as a cipher, and additionally fails to place her iconic status in historical context.


Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 49,974



Movie Info

This is the story of the super successful 1950s pin-up model, Bettie Page, one of the first sex icons in America, who was the target of a major Senate investigation -- based on her highly provocative bondage photos.

R (for nudity, sexual content and some language)
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Sep 26, 2006
Box Office:
Picturehouse - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Notorious Bettie Page

All Critics (142) | Top Critics (47) | Fresh (75) | Rotten (58) | DVD (15)

A portrait of the centrefold as a closed book.

Full Review… | August 3, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

In Mary Harron's film biography of the nude and naughty pin-up girl, Notorious is synonymous with 'joyless.'

Full Review… | May 26, 2006
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

With her blue-black hair, Mol looks so much like Page that this could be a documentary, and her swings between modesty and exhibitionism are amazingly fluid.

Full Review… | May 12, 2006
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

... the movie's worth a look simply for Mol's career-boosting performance.

Full Review… | May 6, 2006
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic

We can't always be sure what's archival and what's simulated because sometimes the filmmakers are trying to fool us. But their preoccupation with the manufacture of images keeps this exercise in exposure and concealment interesting.

Full Review… | May 6, 2006
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Disappointingly skin-deep and almost shockingly wholesome.

May 6, 2006
New York Post
Top Critic

Intolerably mild

Full Review… | August 30, 2009

A wonderful celebration of the legend known as Bettie Page.

Full Review… | April 29, 2009
Cinema Crazed

Beautifully stylized but emotionally flat, "The Notorious Bettie Page" is a confined but enjoyable conception of Bettie Page's brief-but-influential career.

Full Review… | April 20, 2009

a subtle, understated study of a complex individual.

Full Review… | June 19, 2007

Director Mary Harron and her co-screenwriter Guinevere Turner seem seriously conflicted about the tone of their film.

Full Review… | March 1, 2007
Film Journal International

It is a wondrously entertaining biopic that gives a dazzling insight into a time when the world was ready to embrace the notion of a sex goddess, innocently.

Full Review… | March 1, 2007
Urban Cinefile

Visualmente insosso (o jogo entre P&B e cor parece apenas querer chamar a atenÁ„o), o filme empalidece tematicamente diante de Kinsey e n„o retrata Page de maneira particularmente interessante, apesar da ůtima performance de Mol.

December 30, 2006
Cinema em Cena

Men can ogle and evaluate all they want. The film's Bettie is what they've made, but she eludes them.

Full Review… | December 21, 2006

The film was directed by Mary Harron from a screenplay she wrote with Guinevere Turner. In the past, these two did substantial work. Now they play, so that audiences may have the double pleasure of enjoying their porn while feeling superior to it.

Full Review… | November 11, 2006
The Nation

Stars Gretchen Mol in a terrific comeback performance as Page, the God-fearing woman from Tennessee who left Nashville for New York, where her aspirations of becoming an actress were interrupted, you might say, by a whip and a ball gag.

Full Review… | September 29, 2006
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Refreshingly, Mol doesn't play Page as a dumb bunny but as someone who discovered that narrow middle ground between sweetness and sexiness.

Full Review… | September 29, 2006
Kalamazoo Gazette

The Notorious Bettie Page may be nothing but a series of beautiful poses, but audiences will be more than happy with the result.

Full Review… | September 28, 2006
Sight and Sound

Watching Mol in action in the title role, it's impossible to imagine anyone else in the part.

Full Review… | September 21, 2006

A small, strangely sweet tale well told. But this is all about Mol, who puts in a performance that gives her a very early lead on next year's Oscar race.

Full Review… | August 4, 2006
Empire Magazine

Mary Harron's Bettie Page biopic is beautifully shot and features a terrific performance by Gretchen Mol, but it's also frustratingly vague and never gets beneath the surface.

Full Review… | August 3, 2006

Harron is not judgemental in her approach, which allows Bettie's sweet nature to shine through. However, there's a nagging dissatisfaction that comes from being too detached from her subject.

Full Review… | August 1, 2006

The episodic script offers basic insight into Page's rise to fame, but it never commits to being either an in-depth biography or a thoughtful examination of her impact on evolving sexual mores of the era.

Full Review… | June 12, 2006
Denton Record Chronicle (TX)

Played with great charm and enthusiasm by Gretchen Mol.

Full Review… | June 11, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Turns out to be a movie with little to remember despite the precise craft and efforts of its creators. It's as if they worked hard for nothing.

June 2, 2006
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Audience Reviews for The Notorious Bettie Page

A bit stiff as a film - biopic by numbers - but Gretchen Mol turns in an excellent performance, having to play everything including a free-spirited pin-up girl at her first acting lessons (i.e., acting like someone who doesn't know how to act, which strikes me as impossible to even think about let alone pull off).

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer


Gretchen Mol completely captures the essence of Bettie Page in this biopic; she's a naive beauty who accidentally becomes an underground sex symbol. This film successfully places Page in America's sexual more transformation during the 1950s. The writing and direction are excellent, bringing the story of this charming beauty to life. Page was completely unashamed of ber body and her controversial photos; she's innocent yet wicked at the same time.

Bettie Page was groundbreaking without realizing it. This film captures her innocent sweetness and unknowing naughty sexuality. While Page, with Irving Klaw and other photograthers, was groundbreaking, this film is not. It places her at the onset of the sexual revolution yet does not expound on that in any way. Its a straightforward story, not an in-depth sociological study.

Clintus M.
Clintus Maximus

Super Reviewer

Spanning from the 1930s-50s, this little indie film charts the life and career of legendary pinup model Bettie Page.

It's a really well-meaning, but ultimately shallow film, and that's unfortunate. I liked that the film was rather classy, and kept from being too raunchy and exploitative, but at the same time, it feels a little safe, and they probably could have been edgier but still kept it pretty tasteless. I think a lot of the reasons for why the film falls short is that it really doesn't take risks, and has a pretty sketchy script. The film doesn't really give a lot of insights into the characters, it really skirts around some important aspects of her past (like an abusive marriage, childhood abuse, and a gang rape), and fails to incorporate these things into how they affected Page's later life. There's also not much of a character arc either, so the fact that she gives her career up to become a born again Christian seems far more striking than it should. The film shows how Bettie was clearly religious, even when she did risque modeling, but doesn't really provide a strong answer for why she gave it up.

With that out of the way, I can get to the praises I have. The costumes, set design, art direction, and cinematography are absolutely brilliant. The era really comes alive in super faithful recreations. It's shot in gorgeous black and white, with some selective use of color that's been altered to make it too appear as if it's from the time period. Best of all has to be the wonderful recreations of the famous photos and video clips. The DVD features include a short film of the actual Bettie, and it is amazing how accurate the film captured her and the era.

Of course, a major part of that success has to do with the casting and acting. Gretchen Mol is Page, and she is absolutely wonderful, and this is probably going to be her career defining role, and that'd be just fine. She perfectly captures Bettie's warmth, sweetness, sassiness, and naivete (indeed, the real Page never saw what she did as bad, and always treated the shoots, especially the bondage stuff, as just silly fun and make believe). She has the look down pat, and is the real reason to see the film, even if it isn't an overall success. The rest of the cast is decent, though overshadowed by Mol. My favorites have to be Chris Bauer and Lili Taylor as brother and sister duo Irving and Paula Klaw- the respectable business owners who did fetish shoots on the side. Cara Seymour is likewise good as fellow model Maxie, but in the end, this is truly Mol's movie.

I did enjoy the movie, despite it's clear flaws and shortcomings. It does a lot of great things, even though it ultimately fails to totally satisfy. I sort of recommend it, if only for Mol and the technical stuff.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

The Notorious Bettie Page directed by American Psycho director, Mary Harron is an interesting, but imperfect attempt at capturing the life of the first pinup queen Bettie Page to the screen. I felt the film lacked something that has made other biopics so good. The film is good and has a lot of solid performances, but the fact is, it lacked something to truly make it a good biopic. I felt that considering the subject matter, they could have made a truly unique biopic about this pinup sensation. The film is a good effort, but it could've used a bit more substance. The actress chosen to play Bettie Page, Gretchen Mol is perfect for the part. The films problem is that it touches only the surface of who Bettie Page was. The film doesn't truly go into vivid detail, like most biopics. The filmmakers left a lot of material out of the story, and just keep what is known about Bettie Page, her illicit modeling career. The rest seems to be left out, we never truly find out how she was brought up, and such. Those would have been things that they could've put in the film to make it a more rounded biopic. Fortunately there's a phenomenal cast that graces this film and they each bring something interesting to the screen. But like I said, the film lacks substance and effective development to really make this an interesting and memorable biopic. But this film is still worth checking out, for what it is; it's a good try at bringing Bettie Page's life to the screen.

Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

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