The Notorious Bettie Page (2006)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic 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.


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.

Rating: R (for nudity, sexual content and some language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Mary Harron, Guinevere Turner
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 26, 2006
Box Office: $1.4M
Runtime:
Picturehouse - Official Site

Cast


as Bettie Page

as Irving Klaw

as John Willie

as Paula Klaw

as Bunny Yeager

as Estes Kefauver

as Preacher In Nashvill...

as Nervous Man

as Preacher In Miami

as Billy Neal

as Jerry Tibbs

as Edna Page

as Mr. Gaughan

as Little John

as Mr. Grimm

as Man On Street

as Jack Page

as Director At Audition

as Guy 1 At Party

as Howie

as Young Jimmy Page

as Charlie

as Roy Page

as Detective Farrell

as Photographer 1

as Jack Kramer

as Bookstore Owner

as Young Goldie

as Father Egan

as Young Betty

as Guy 2 At Party

as Court Official

as Young Love

as Drunken Woman At Par...

as Photographer 2

as Director At Screen T...

as Police Officer

as Photographer 3

as Producer At Screen T...
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Notorious Bettie Page

All Critics (142) | Top Critics (47)

A portrait of the centrefold as a closed book.

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

Intolerably mild

Full Review… | August 30, 2009
CinePassion

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
ColeSmithey.com

a subtle, understated study of a complex individual.

Full Review… | June 19, 2007
musicOMH.com

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

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).

danperry17
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

½

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.

cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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