The Notorious Bettie Page Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 11, 2014
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).
Clintus M.
Super Reviewer
½ January 16, 2013
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.
Super Reviewer
January 7, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
August 12, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
½ May 9, 2007
A biopic based on the life of burlesque queen and icon Bettie Page, The Notorious mirrors the lady in question by being rather appealing on a superficial level but containing little of any real substance. The script skips over the abuse and indignities of her early life in a way that almost seems dismissive, concentrating instead on parading the appropriately earthy beauty of Gretchen Mol around in various states of undress. There is little in the way of conflict or drama to the story and as such is really an exercise in eye candy; it's attractively shot in noir-esque black and white, occasionally switching to aping the garish technocolor of the time (although I couldn't help wishing that they'd just picked one and stuck with it) and features some attractive costume design. It's also complimented by a quality supporting cast including the always watchable Lili Taylor and an amusing turn by Jared Harris as a booze-sodden photographer but ultimately there's very little to it. When by far the most promising aspect of the story featuring a senatorial tribunal on public decency fizzles away to nothing it becomes obvious that the plot is as scanty as some of Ms Page's outfits and I didn't really feel it justified an hour and half of my time. A few chuckles at the expense of 50s naivety and little more.
Super Reviewer
½ October 14, 2010
This was pretty good. I had never heard of this woman, but the nice way that they made this film about her made me look her up. The resemblance of Bettie Page and Gretchen Mol is amazing. It is really good to see a happy ending to this kind of star. I was half expecting a tragic ending, but it all seemed to turn out ok. Nice job.
Super Reviewer
October 23, 2007
Mol was pretty an innocent kitten cute, which isn't what I would have expected Page to be like, but it made for an interesting movie.
Super Reviewer
November 28, 2006
A great-looking but boring movie--a perfect parallel for Mol's good, but dull portrayal of Page. Or Page herself, for that matter. The bouncing from black and white to heavily saturated color with locales was great, as was seeing Gretchen Mol's lady garden, but I never really gave a shit about Betty. It's generally boring and completely forgettable.
Super Reviewer
½ June 30, 2007
Flat but effective biopic with a great performance from Mol
Super Reviewer
½ April 7, 2007
gretchen mol is very good but the film is missing something
Super Reviewer
½ April 3, 2007
Very good Biopic. Entertaining and sexy.
Super Reviewer
½ November 24, 2006
A film regarding the rise of 'degrading' pornography is fashioned as a fairly sweet indie comedy, this biopic of 50s pin-up sensation Bettie Page won't be too all tastes. But perhaps that's the point.
The tale opens with Bettie's post-childhood trauma years; she is shy and apprehensive, but easily charmed. This aspect of her is then manipulated by a group of horny college boys in order to gang-rape her. Some time after this ordeal, she finds that the highly taboo practice of S&M photoshoots could be for her. Instead of being some sort of vice or crutch to alleviate her distresses on, Page treats the topic as sweet 'n' light, agreeing that people enjoy seperate things; if anything she finds it amusing.
This is, the crux of Harron' story, that there need be no real connection between trauma and 'specialist' pornography. Sadism isn't necessarily the by-product of deviance, and it's her persuavive argument that allows the auidence to be comfortbaly on Bettie's side when the US clampdown on 'degradation' marked her out as public enemy no.1.
Harron's film is finely crafted with some superb camerwork, the majority of it in monochrome, intentionally mimicking old photographs, and the occaisonal vibrant colour used for Bettie's various magazine covers.
Super Reviewer
April 25, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]"The Notorious Bettie Page" is a biopic about the legendary pinup model, Bettie Page(Gretchen Mol), who was raised as a good Christian girl in Nashville but is also abused by her father. After a failed marriage and a stint at being a teacher, she decides to strike out on her own for New York City where she is noticed by an amateur photographer at Coney Island. This leads to an unorthodox modeling career for fetish publications and in the nude while trying to pursue an acting career.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]"The Notorious Bettie Page" is a pefectly adequate biopic that does not venture much below the surface. It does not do a very good job of explaining why Bettie Page is still a legend fifty years after her modeling career ended. Gretchen Mol gives an excellent performance, capturing the apparent contradictions of a nice person(she does not drink nor sleep around) who is also comfortable posing undressed.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]The movie demolishes the notion of a connection between pornography and sexual assault. Page is sexually assaulted before she leaves Nashville but is treated kindly by the photographers and fetishists she meets in New York and Miami Beach.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]The New York and Nashville sections of the movie were filmed in black and white while Miami Beach was filmed in color.(Not really like that in real life.) The movie has a nostalgiac tone, especially towards what could not be shown in those old photos. But you have to remember, that even the material that was not that racy had to be hidden from view and could not be sent through the mail. And I would much rather have everything out in the open where people can be open about their desires and can choose the explicitness of the images they view.[/font]
Super Reviewer
½ June 2, 2010
This is a movie made with passion! I enjoyed every minute of it, because it presents to all of us a part of the history which is usually not told to anyone. Gretchen Mol had a really well done role - believable and brutally honest!
Super Reviewer
August 4, 2010
Gretchen Mol was born to play this part. I don't think many other actresses could have captured Bettie Page in the way she has here. Its interesting how the director, Mary Harron, explores the innocence in the type of photography and films Bettie Page did. The people that made them were not the sick perverts that we imagine, they were honest people just trying to make a living. Harron also wisely sidsteps a lot of the cliches associated with the biopic genre by keeing the film small. Its an interesting story about a very different time.
Super Reviewer
March 18, 2007
The problem with The Notorious Bettie Paige is that, despite the title, Paige's life just isn't *that* interesting. A struggling actress who made money by initially entering beauty pageants, then moved on to photo-shoots in bikinis and then progressed onto 'provocative' bondage spreads and mini-films and on to topless modelling, there's little in the way of exciting revelations, dramatic intent or even character development. To use the cliché, it's very much style over substance. Since the story is quite tame by today's standards, much of the success is down to the really rather beautiful way the film is shot. Using black and white photography (with occasional 'pop-out' color sections), Mary Harron uses many of the camera techniques and connotations associated with the films of the period, and the stunning music score is also very evocative. Even the credit sequence is beautifully designed, so what you in essence get is a film that feels like it was made during the period depicted but one that itself would *never* have received distribution or certification at the time (think Far From Heaven or The Good German). With a fearless performance from a splendid Gretchon Mol and good support from indie fave Lili Taylor, Bettie Paige is worth a watch but wont linger in the mind.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
May 1, 2010
A good film by Mary Harron. Gretchen Mol does a fine job as the pin up queen Bettie Page. What amazes me is how Page was able to make the transition from being an erotic symbol to a devout Christian. The visuals is useful in it's use of b&w and beautiful use of the traditional Technicolor stock from the 1950's. Harron stays true to the period of the times and to the main character Bettie Page.
Super Reviewer
November 27, 2010
Ah Betty Page, the ultiment girl. I really enjoyed this bippic even if was slightly flawed. The pace is very fast in this one and a lot of the characters and periods of Betties life wer rushed through to quickly for me. This is a minor complaint as it didn't really affect my overall enjoyment of the film, but it was a little dissapointing at times. Gretchen Mol was fabulous as Bettie Page and she really looked like Bettie. The film was a little more tame than I would have liked but I do think they captured the era and the woman very well. Recommended.
Super Reviewer
August 29, 2009
Interestingly tame - dare I say "wholesome"?? - biopic of the 1950s pinup queen. Effective in demonstrating the public and legal perceptions of decency of the time. Most compelling moment has Bettie, a devout Christian, justifying her rationale for her modeling career in light of her religious beliefs while tethered in saucy underwear, I wish the movie had more insightful scenes like this. Gretchen Mol is perfectly gorgeous while impressively inhabiting the identity of an icon.
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