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Plot:

Portrait of an American innocent. In 1955, Bettie Page (1923-2008 ) waits to testify before a Senate subcommittee investigating the effects of pornographic material on American adolescents and juveniles. In flashbacks, we see her childhood in Tennessee, a brief marriage, a gang rape, and her going to New York City in 1949. There she takes acting lessons, models for photos, and acts in short films for adults, earning the nickname, “The Pin-Up Queen of the Universe.” We see her relationship with merchants Irving and Paula Klaw, photographers John Willie and Bunny Yeager, boyfriends, and the public. Through it all, she is wholesome, sporting, and forthright – Eve before the fall.

Also Known As: Bettie Page, Az első szexikon, The Notorious Bettie Page, Непристойная Бэтти Пейдж, Notorious Bettie Page, The notorious Bettie Page, A Famosa Bettie page, Den ökända Bettie Page, La scandalosa vita di Bettie Page, Nuodemingoji Beti Peidž, Słynna Bettie Page, Bettie Pagen tarina, Sexsymbolet Betty Page, Bettie Page: la chica de las revistas, O thrylos tis Bettie Page, Bettie Page: Begehrt und berüchtigt, The Last Days of Bettie Page, The Ballad of Bettie Page

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  • biserka-spoljaric
    biserka spoljaric

    Firstly, I have heard great things about this film, not least among the retro/vintage scene and the stockings lovers who absolutely love Bettie Page and it did not disappoint. Shot in very clean black and white with colour added for key scenes, the film gives a documentary feel to the early life and career of Bettie Page.There are many things I did not know about Page. Firstly, there was the gang rape, later on, there is her early attempts at developing an acting career and then glamour pictures, firstly with a camera club peopled with men who can’t get enough of her and later with the Klaws, Paula and Irving, who despite their taking of bondage and fetish photos, come across as extremely pleasant and friendly people. If only modern pornography producers were like that, perhaps better porn would be a consequence! For the most part, the film is neither a diatribe against the evils of pornography but an attempt to show the kind of environment that existed in the 1950s for those producing fetish and nude pictures of women. This environment was extremely repressive, perhaps in a good way because it meant that there was none of the ‘saturation’ effect that we have today, when it comes to pornography. It also appeared to be much less harsh. Page comes across as someone who enjoys her work and doesn’t appear to be degraded by it. In many of her photos she is seen tied up and gagged (and trying to hold a conversation), brandishing a whip with a flourish, thus exciting the photographers taking her pictures and seen in ‘initiation style’ girlie bondage movies which look quite tame compared with the hardcore stuff we have now.Page never became an actress and instead deserted pinup when she was in her thirties for ‘Jesus Christ’. Her belief in God and Jesus never goes away, even when bound and gagged she still insists that she has been given a ‘gift’ by God to do ‘this thing’. Seeing this film, I am more knowledgeable about Page and in awe at her modesty, beliefs and demeanour. She is one of a kind, compared with the identi-kit clone blondes we have today and someone who can actually say ‘There is life after porn’.

  • eva-kucerova
    eva kucerova

    Although The Notorious Bettie Page is well acted and shot, is is, at best, a Cliffs Notes version of Bettie’s biography. The film mainly centers on her work with Irving and Paula Klaw, the brother and sister team who produced the bulk of her most famous photos. It does not detail her life after posing, aside from her religious rebirth. It cites “The Real Bettie Page”, by Richard Foster as a source, but it ignores Bettie’s later years of mental illness and incarceration in a mental hospital. The narrow focus of the biography can be debated, but the majority of Bettie’s fans and the “civilians” would probably be more interested in her modeling career, which is what they get.The film is well acted, with Gretchen Mol faithfully reproducing the look of Bettie, as well as conveying the sweetness that her photos exuded. The character is played as rather naive, a probable byproduct of interviews given by Bettie in recent years. It is more likely that Bettie was aware of the nature of her photos but rationalized it as acting and costumes.The supporting cast is also outstanding, with Chris Bauer and Lili Taylor playing Irving and Paula Klaw, and David Strathairn as Estes Kefauver. The film errs with the character of John Willie, played by Jared Harris. John Willie never met Bettie Page and was not involved in photo shoots with the Klaws. Harris plays Willie a bit like Peter O’Toole, in his more debauched state.Despite the quality of acting, the film is a bit of a disappointment in terms of depth. The story is rather cursory and we never feel that we truly get to know Bettie. Much like her photos, it’s just an image. It does tend to exaggerate Bettie’s notoriety. Her photos were mainly seen in and around New York, in a very narrow market of underground and cultish publications. Her real fame came after her photos were reprinted in the late 70’s and 80’s, and the Cult of Betty Page (as her name was usually spelled) grew. Bettie’s greatest exposure (pardon the pun) was in Playboy, appearing in the January 1955 issue (the Christmas photo, which is staged in reverse in the film).The film is well done, if rather shallow. It is able to sustain interest until the end and showcases many fine performances. It hits the high points of Bettie’s life, but ignores many details which would have given it far greater depth. The ending is rather a let down. It feels rather abrupt. Still, the movie is definitely worth viewing by anyone interested in Bettie, or even the time period. The soundtrack is great, really pulling the viewer into the 1950’s. If nothing else, the film stands as a showcase for America’s burgeoning sexuality and the clash with its Puritan past. It’s also a peek at an icon for both men and women.

  • iago-ch-xeize
    iago ch xeize

    When setting out this film, director Mary Harron seemingly had the goal of clearly documenting the progress of Bettie Page’s career, from early modelling days to leaving modelling to go back home after the Senate Hearings on Juvenile Delinquency and her religious rediscovery in the 50s, and so intent is she to get all of these facts on screen in the time allowed she seems to have missed out on taking any time to explain anything in depth.When you think of someone who had Page’s career you’d think that there would be plenty to discuss, her reasons, decisions, life event, personal traumas, but Harron avoids any kind of personal exploration of the character. In the first fifteen minutes or so of the film there are brief hints of child abuse, domestic violence and a gang rape, but these are all rushed past and then never referred to again. You get the impression that Harron and Guinevere Turner (co-writer) wanted to gloss over anything that wasn’t glamorous and flattering. You go into this film expecting to gain an insight into who the person behind the posters was, but all you are given is a list of things that she did and recreations of some of her most famous photo shoots.All in all the film really frustrates you as you watch, desperately waiting for some extra layer to reveal itself. How did she balance her religion with her job? What made this young Tennessee girl move from modelling into bondage photography. The film simply shows her going to another modelling agency and putting on whatever she’s told, but surely it would have involved some shock and deliberation, this was after all the 50s.It seems to me that Harron is trying to make a point about how tame all this is by today’s standards (Page never took any photos of explicit sexual actions) and how the reaction some gave this kind of thing was really overzealous And although this is true, she never actually makes it seem sordid in the eyes of others. Today we look at a young girl posing topless and think nothing off it, but we should have got some sort of feeling about how shocking it would have been to a contemporary audience. This woman was a central part of a Senate hearing on Juvenile Delinquency, but no one is ever really shown as shocked.Basically I left this film just thinking how tame it was. Harron and Turner have managed to avoid anything that might be unpleasant to a viewer. They come across as two lifelong fans of Miss Page and are desperate to make sure that nothing, absolutely nothing, could possibly put a bad light on their heroine, and have therefore avoided any in depth probing into who she really was. (Before and after her career there are reports of her violent nature and mental problems) And all that’s left is the string of events that made up her career, without any substance whatsoever behind it.

  • galina-duplii
    galina duplii

    “The Notorious Bettie Page” (2005) Directed By: Mary Harron Starring: Gretchen Mol, Chris Bauer, Lili Taylor, Sarah Paulson, & David Strathairn MPAA Rating: “R” (for nudity, sexual content and some language) It seems as though every celebrity nowadays is getting a biopic made about his or her life. From Ray Charles to Johnny Cash, biopics are very posh right now. “The Notorious Bettie Page” is the latest of these to be released on DVD. It features Gretchen Mol as the world’s most famous pin-up model, Bettie Page and was filmed mostly in black and white with certain excerpts in color. Unlike “Ray”, “Walk the Line”, and “Finding Neverland”, however, this movie is not going to be one to watch out for at the Oscars this year. This movie lacks the emotional resonance displayed in other biopics and most of the more dramatic moments in Bettie Page’s life are either completely ignored or only merely suggested. This does not mean, however, that it is a bad movie. In fact, “The Notorious Bettie Page” is a thoroughly entertaining and fulfilling movie–a solid work of cinema. This film focuses more on Page’s exciting career and the thin line between sexuality and pornography. It is filmed with fervor and care and Mary Harron’s direction captures the look and feel of the time period as most filmmakers only dream about.Everyone knows Bettie Page (played by Mol). Whether you know her as an icon…or a simple porn star…you know her. She is a woman who had a very profound impact on American culture only by revealing more skin than deemed appropriate at that particular time. Now, most people know her as one of America’s first sex symbols–a legend to many models, especially those of Playboy and other adult-oriented magazines. She lived in a time when showing just an inch of flesh below the waste could have someone arrested and Page’s bondage-style photos were just the thing to push the American public into an uproar. In fact, the photos launched a full-fledged senate investigation about common decency and the difference between harmless films and porn.The performances in “The Notorious Bettie Page” are absolutely wonderful with Gretchen Mol standing out. Her performance as Bettie Page is simply brilliant. I understand that, when she was announced for the role, many people were skeptical. Her name is not one that immediately leaps to my mind when I think of great performances. Now, it will. She completely aced the role and drew me in with her vulnerable and yet deeply engaging performance. David Strathairn is fresh off of last year’s “Good Night, and Good Luck”, in which he gave one of 2005’s best performances. Here, he gives yet another fine performance…even though he is slightly underused. I was shocked at how very limited his screen time was…but quality over quantity is always the most important aspect of any good movie. The only performance I have seen from Lili Taylor was that in “The Haunting” (1999). While most people ignored the movie, I found it to be an enjoyable, if not completely shallow, horror movie and I also have always thought that Taylor was perfectly credible as the emotionally-distraught Nell. Here, Taylor gives yet another credible performance. She gives a very subdued performance and delivers the perfect performance to compliment that of Gretchen Mol.After everything was said and done, I realized that “The Notorious Bettie Page” cannot be compared to other biopics, such as “Finding Neverland” and “Walk the Line”. It is incomparable to these because it tells a story of a woman and her career, from the beginning to the end. Her personal life is briefly implied, but it is really her impact on the world that becomes the high point. We watch the film knowing that Page will eventually bare all and we know the impact that her decisions will have…but we are rarely shown the impact that they will have on her personal life. She is a woman that never looked back and could constantly reinvent herself. After all, she was an adult model turned Christian missionary. This movie does not over dramatize anything. It could have included fictitious moments of Page sobbing hysterically and begging God to forgive her. It could have shown Page running and screaming through the rain, trying to escape the ghosts of her past…and yet it does not. “The Notorious Bettie Page” tells a simple story and that is something rare by today’s standards. Fortunately, it is quite refreshing.Final Thought: “The Notorious Bettie Page” is a relaxing movie with absolutely amazing cinematography.Overall Rating: 9/10 (A)

  • carmen-castellanos
    carmen castellanos

    If there’s one genre that I’ve never been a fan of, it’s the biopic. Always misleading, filled with false information, over-dramatized scenes, and trickery all around, biopics are almost never done right. Even in the hands of the truly talented directors like Martin Scorsese (The Aviator) and Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind), they often do a great disservice to the people they are trying to capture on screen. Skeptiscism takes the place of hype with the majority of biopics that make their way to the big screen and the Notorious Bettie Page was no different. Some critics and moviegoers objected to Gretchen Mol given the role of Bettie Page, saying she was no longer a celebrity and didn’t have the chops for the part. I never doubted Mol could handle the part since, but I never expected to as blown as away by her performance as I was upon just viewing the film hours ago. Mol delivers a knockout Oscar worthy performance as the iconic 1950’s pin-up girl, who, after an early life of abuse (depicted subtlety and tastefully done, something few directors would probably do) inadvertently becomes one of the most talked about models of all time. The picture covers a lot of ground in its 90 minute running time yet despite no less than three subplots, there is still a feeling that there may be a small portion missing from the story. Director/co-writer Marry Harron and Guinevere Turner’s fantastic script is only marred by a too abrupt and not as clear as it should be ending. Still, credit must be given to the two ladies for creating a nearly flawless biopic that manages to pay tribute to both its subject and the decade it emulates masterfully. Come Oscar time, Mol, Turner, and Harron should be receiving nominations. Doubt it will happen, though there certainly are no three women more deserving of them. 9/10

  • latasha-davies
    latasha davies

    I’ve seen a few of these Bettie bios – and they all primarily cover the same basic material. The main difference is typically the acting and budget level of the film. THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE is one of the more “polished” of these films, and would be a good intro for anyone interested in some basic background on the woman that many consider to be the “World’s Greatest Pin-up Girl”.Gretchen Mol (competently) plays Bettie during her modeling years – and we follow Bettie as a young girl in a religious town in Tennessee to her move to New York. With her dreams of acting taking a backseat to her career as a pin-up girl and bondage model, Bettie eventually returns to religion and leaves the modeling world to basically disappear into obscurity, until the recent “revival” in interest in her and her career.Mol is a believable Bettie and the production of the film overall is well-done. No real new ground to be covered, as most of Bettie’s life up til her being “born again” is pretty common knowledge – but THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE is still an entertaining and informative look into the bondage-queen’s life. Worth a look to bio or Bettie fans…8/10

  • jari-kinnunen-ahokas
    jari kinnunen ahokas

    I remember seeing a pretty tame picture of Bettie Page in the 60s and being unmistakably convinced of her unique perfection. I longed to have a girlfriend just like her, though no one has ever even reminded me of her. I studied her photo but could not make out why she stood out, but the connection was somehow personal. She was certainly beautiful but there are plenty of beautiful women. Was I just a kid infatuated with a particularly well photographed pinup? Now decades later the idea that someone could bring Bettie Page accurately to life seems impossible, and I almost didn’t rent this film I was so convinced it would only ruin my image of her. Now having seen this film I am almost speechless. This film is almost achingly perfect and utterly devastating to anyone thinking women can’t direct. To my mind there is only one serious flaw in this film which luckily is overwhelmed with all that is right with it: Lili Taylor carries too much baggage with her and almost single-handedly torpedoes this film’s more delicate achievements. But on the other hand, Gretchen Mol will shoot to the top of your list of unbelievable women who especially we men need to thank our lucky stars for, for her choice of profession. If she hadn’t become an actress, no man could be secure enough to let us guys get to know her. To say she’s wonderful in the part is wholly inadequate. She’s permanently and quite adoringly etched onto my memory.And when I think that women made this film, I’m a little intimidated. Harron and Turner clearly saw what I saw so many years ago in a black and white photo, and made a film true to that vision. I would have bet no one would have the artistry and sheer karma to duplicate that impossibly lucky photography, but I’ve been proved quite wrong with this unforgettable film. I don’t remember seeing the ‘naughtier’ pictures of Bettie Page but, for me, she’s who Marilyn Monroe is to so many others: a kind of unwitting but undeniable goddess who seems totally inexplicable given the world she was born to. She’s proof that greater things are more possible than they seem.

  • mihhail-karpov
    mihhail karpov

    On the 26th of September 1983 a short dumpy 60 year old woman stood trial for the attempted murder of Leonie Haddad, a lady whose husband had recently died and had agreed to take in a lodger who came via a housing authority for the elderly. Haddad was not made aware that her new lodger had, in fact, come fresh from The Patton State Mental Hospital where she had been incarcerated for an inexplicable knife attack on a married couple three years previously. Haddad soon realised that something was ‘rotten in Denmark’ when the woman began to lock herself in the bathroom with a tape recorder reciting prophesies about’ seven Gods’. Haddad’s fears were confirmed one night when she awoke to find her lodger sitting astride her chest holding a bread knife announcing that “God has inspired me to kill you”. Haddad managed to knock her assailant out with a telephone but not before she had lost a finger and suffered deep lacerations to her face and chest. It was a miracle she survived. The lodger was judged to be innocent by reason of insanity but sent, kicking and screaming, back to the laughing academy. Ten years later she was released and found that she was now a celebrity; but not for the brutal attacks on her innocent victims, but for her incarnation of 25 years earlier when she was known as the ‘Queen of the Curve’s, the ‘Tennessee Tease’ and ‘Miss Pin Up Girl of the World’ – the Notorious Bettie Page. Director Mary Harron, mainly known for ‘American Psycho’ takes us back to the glory days of a legendary cheesecake and bondage model (played solidly enough by Gretchen Mol) who inadvertently wrote the blue print for fetish iconography and whose influence can be detected in everything from comic books to catwalks. T.N.B.P is day-glo fun ride through an evocative depiction of the1950’s where Page, with the familial help of good intentioned boyfriends and photographers, becomes the number one star of pocket sized men’s glossies with titles like Wink, Tab and Parade. Her real dream of movie stardom evades her and a brush with the authorities over obscenity charges in 1957 is the inciting incident which leads her to retire from modelling and give herself to God. The overall style of the film is light and frothy and only darkens momentarily with an allusion to her father’s incestuous attentions and a sexual assault which inexplicably appears to have no discernible effect on her. Mol plays Page as she seems in her photographs, happy, carefree and fun – even the bondage shots betray little more than a good humoured incomprehensibility. The film ends on the upbeat with Page cheerfully handing out bibles in a park with no indication of the real life unhappy marriages, personal tragedy and decent into murderous insanity which lay before her; avoiding what I think is the essential core of Page’s story – rebirth and resurrection. Having emerged from a decade of incarceration Page found that her cult had been in the ascendance since the mid 1980’s and that she had become a huge underground icon, during which, many were asking “whatever happened to Bettie Page”. Her ‘mysterious’ disappearance fed the fires of any number of conspiracy theories only adding to the allure of her legend. When the world’s media finally caught up with her she gave no hint of her darker past and she was soon giving interviews for magazines, T.V and being photographed at Playboy parties with the likes of Pamela Anderson and the equally tragic Anna Nicole Smith. She found that she was now more famous than she ever was in her ‘glory years’ but in the glare of this ‘resurrection’ it was only a matter of time before the full story would come to light.The only notorious thing about The Notorious Bettie Page is they left out the part when she became truly notorious.

  • caune-gunta
    caune gunta

    I’ve no idea whether the real Bettie Page—50s ‘cheescake’ and fetish model—was as genuinely sweet a gal as she is portrayed in this film by the delightful Gretchen Mol, but there’s no denying that this biopic is a fun, entertaining and saucy account of the rise to fame of a cult sex icon.With scenes shot in both black & white and glorious Technicolour, The Notorious Bettie Page perfectly captures an era in which the sexual revolution was in the very early planning stages, and the moral do-gooders in power were still out to protect the public from perversion in all of its many forms.Writer/director Mary Harron’s script follows a pretty standard biopic format, beginning by charting the trials and tribulations faced by the young god-fearing Southern gal in her home town (including molestation by her father and an abusive husband), and then follows her career as she moves to New York to become the number one pin-up model of the decade.Harron, perhaps rather naively, depicts her subject as a wide-eyed innocent, always blissfully unaware that what she is doing is considered sinful by many, and, whilst this approach is questionable, Mol’s performance is so engaging that it’s easy to forgive any possible factual inaccuracies (of course, with the film’s star frequently naked or clad in very sexy lingerie, I’m willing to overlook quite a lot!). The film also features a very likable supporting cast, including Lili Taylor, Chris Bauer and Jared Harris.These days (where almost any perversion conceivable is available on the internet), Bettie Page’s work is considered by most to be pretty tame stuff, seeming almost quaint and rather charming. However, I can’t help but wonder what might have become of Bettie had she embarked on her ‘modelling’ career in the more extreme climes of the 21st century…

  • nathan-farias
    nathan farias

    Those naughty magazines on display at the beginning may have been available in some big cities in the early 50’s, but they sure as heck weren’t in small town America. My first exposure (no pun) was an early edition of Playboy, circa 1955, which none of us teenage boys could believe. Of course, Hefner didn’t traffic in fetishes like the Klaws, still the lid was down pretty tight on the female form during the period. Notice too, how the Congressional sub-Committee links pornography with rotting the country’s foundation— an extension of the McCarthy chill that in fact spread beyond politics to the culture as a whole. (For a deeper look at the anti- pornography hysteria, check out “Perversion for Profit”, a half-hour curiosity TMC revives from time to time.)The movie itself is pretty shallow. Incredibly, Bettie is portrayed as an uncomprehending innocent even amid all the lurid graphics, shady characters, and eager men. And since the movie follows her, we don’t get much insight beyond the superficial into either her emotions or the world she’s a part of. What we do get are miles of titillating footage of Bettie posing in various stages of undress. That’s okay to a point, but then what’s the point of the film beyond that of exploiting an underground icon for titillation purposes. At least, the screenplay has the good sense to resist passing judgment on her career, and thus on itself. All in all, the movie may be pretty to look at and so certainly is Bettie, but don’t expect much more than a glossy surface.

  • sinjeongsun
    sinjeongsun

    Beautifully made with a wonderful performance from Gretchen Moll capturing such a stainless plain happiness in her work, and the recreations of the little movies and the photographs are perfectly made and often hilarious. According to Harron they used film stock that is no longer produced and fifties style studio lighting even for the outside locations to give the colour portions its distinctive look. Bettie Page saw the movie at Hugh Heffner’s house (she is now eighty-three) with the producers there, but not the director, in case it got awkward if she didn’t like it. She apparently did like it up until the official inquiry, which she found unsettling. Some great costumes too. The idea for the movie started in 1993, but this was worth the wait. The portrait of her never seems to ring false in reference to all those images and snippets of (dreadful) movies that many of us will have already seen. It would make an interesting companion piece with Goodnight and Goodluck, but much more pleasant viewing!

  • thijmen-bouhuizen
    thijmen bouhuizen

    I’ve known about Bettie Page for many a year now. The soft-core porn images of her from the 1950’s have since become iconographic and still have a strong draw even today. The “Bettie Page” look is also still hugely popular within the hetero fetish world and remains as distinctive today as it did then. So I watched this film with quite a bit of familiarity to begin with. The result did not disappoint.Among other things, it was hugely entertaining to see the movie’s recreation of actual figures like Irving Klaw, John Willie, and Bunny Yeager – all consider trailblazers today. Mary Harron did an excellent job creating the desired ambiance of sexual repression and hypocrisy in 1950’s America along with a sexuality that, by today’s standards, was innocent in the extreme. I particularly liked the use of monochrome versus color as a visual shorthand for the emotional and spiritual climate Bettie found herself in.I think that Gretchen Mol did an excellent job of presenting the character of Bettie in all her innocent sexuality and all her utter naiveté. Bettie loved to look pretty, loved the attention, saw nothing wrong with nudity, and enjoyed dressing up in “silly outfits” for the camera. The underlying sexuality and deeply fetishistic desires all that evoked were completely lost on her. To this day she still doesn’t understand “what all the fuss was about” when it comes to her pictures or the S&M content of them.This isn’t to say she’s uneducated or too simple to understand it’s just that she simply doesn’t “get it” about fetishism and never will. No harm there. Bettie Page is simply being who she is. The film captured this quite nicely.The social atmosphere of the 1950’s depicted by Ms. Harron and written by her along with Guinevere Turner makes me truly glad I live in the day and age that I do. The hypocrisy and repression combined with the massive ignorance about our sexuality all combined to a frighteningly stifling world. The film well captures this and brings to cheering as Bettie endures it all with her unshakeable faith and her unchangeable naiveté.This film was a bit slow at times but hit all the points Ms. Harron attempted and hit them well. I’d recommend this film even for those folks with little to no knowledge of who Bettie Page was and what effect she had on American culture. For those with such interests, then this film is a must see.

  • brett-jones
    brett jones

    First, let me say that Notorious is an absolutely charming film, very lovingly rendered of its time and subject(s). Gretchen Mol is utterly, painfully convincing, the very soul of the contradictions smoothly reified by Ms. Page herself. Irving and Paula Klaw are richly drawn as the working-class stiffs they were (having met Paula at Movie Star News in 1990 I can say that Lili Taylor’s performance is unimpeachable), and Jared Harris as John Willie (Coutts) is an adoringly debauched genius. Anyone with an interest in the recorded history of American attitudes toward sexuality must see this movie, in a theater preferably, where votes made with dollars count more.Second, I will allow that I am a producer of material similar to that for which the Klaws would become famous, which is no way affects my estimation of Ms. Harron’s work as the splendid piece that it is, but does condition my view of Notorious as an act of political resistance of the first order. Ms. Harron has crafted a work of subtle subversion. Along with V for Vendetta, it is a movie about another time for our times.Few readers of this site will be aware that the government they will see enacted in Notorious (through transcription of the very words uttered in closed Senate committee hearings) is a very close approximation of the one they live under right now. While Ms. Harron expressly disallows that she has a political agenda appended to this film, her faithfulness to the facts, and the respectful and unsensational way in which she renders them, synchronizes Notorious with the present day. The very acts that Notorious portrays in loving and accurate detail are defined as obscene by the Communications Decency Act, recently brought to the Supreme Court as a First Amendment case and turned back there at the behest of the Bush administration. In other words, the delicate and ineffectual bondage depicted in Notorious is indictable today by Federal prosecutors in whatever (hostile) jurisdiction they choose. Of course, there were no hearings in the Senate or elsewhere on this matter when the CDA was passed. Of course you know nothing about it, because you don’t want people in Peoria telling you what you can and cannot look at (likewise, people in Peoria probably don’t want me telling them what they’re allowed to view). Of course Notorious will never be indicted. It’s Hollywood. It’s lawyered up. Countless Klaws will, however, continue to be steamrolled by a puritanical bureaucracy that has not advanced its aesthetic, moral or biological composition much in 50+ years.In addition, Notorious posts no 18 USC 2257 compliance statement, which is mandated by the unnoticed “earmark” recently voted into law. If any media contains images of “sadomasochistic restraint” it is required to make available (ex warrant) records of age and circumstance of all performers. Notorious fails in this regard also.In addition to being a splendid piece of entertainment and an (nearly) accurate historical document, Notorious will be the litmus against which the Bush Justice Department is itself judged with respect to the 14th (Equal Protection) Amendment and on perhaps several other Constitutional grounds. In this regard alone, a debt of gratitude is owed Mary Harron. You’ll be grateful in any case, Constitutional or otherwise, if you see this film.

  • liana-erkanyan
    liana erkanyan

    THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE (2006) ***1/2 Gretchen Mol, Lilli Taylor, Chris Bauer, Jared Harris, Sarah Paulson, David Strathairn, Austin Pendleton, Norman Reedus, Dallas Roberts. Mol shines as legendary pin-up queen Bettie Page in a fine biopic.Gretchen Mol is probably best known for being tauted as The Next-It-Girl a few years ago when no one knew who she was despite an infamous cover story by Vanity Fair among other media dubbings but despite a few co-starring roles here and there her predicted stardom seemed to twinkle less brightly until now. Here as the famous pin-up queen Bettie Page, Gretchen Mol is indeed a shining star on the rise.Bettie Page was Tennessee born raised as a God-fearing and family oriented proper girl who seemed to find herself the unwarranted object of lust and affection, as she grew older. A gang-rape that is flashbacked is wisely not graphically depicted nor is the subtle showing of her own father having less- than-decent designs for his own kin which is important to understand how Page managed to escape the possible nightmarish life for a career as an actress by heading to New York City in the 1950s when in fact that was the time and place to be to catch lighting in a bottle. What Page didn’t realize is that in fact she would be just that when she arrived.A beautiful raven haired sweetheart with a divine figure, Page is spotted on Coney Island one summer day by a black policeman asking to take her photograph which leads to her posing in his basement and eventually to the studios of Irving Klaw (Bauer) and his sister Paula (Taylor) who cater their kitschy but considered pornographic stills to a unique clientele: fetish types.Although Page is rather naïve she is undeniably smart and knows that her body is not a sin and can see the forest for the trees in the sense that she is in control – or at least abides in what is offered her as work in that it is not indecent and she is having fun in her increasingly less-clothed portraits – until a Congressional witch-hunt seeks out a few scapegoats to make pornographic images a crime. Talented filmmaker Mary Harron and her screen writing partner Guinevere Turner (“An American Psycho” and “I Shot Andy Warhol”) streamline the biopic trappings rather neatly and maybe a bit too hasty in getting at who really was Bettie Page although they do justice in depicting an era of uptightness at its zenith. Large thanks to gifted cinematographer Mott Hopfel for his languorously gorgeous black and white images and also the sprinkled color segments that recall Douglas Sirk films of the era for its melodramatic kindlings. Part feminist treaty and part American dream fulfilled the story chugs along nicely with fine performances by its ensemble including the comical Bauer and Taylor as siblings in smut and Harris having a field day as a fellow fotog with a taste for wine and chatter. It’s amusing to see Strathairn in a bit of stunt casting as a senator on a campaign for righteousness after portraying news bulldog Edward R. Murrow in his last outing, “Good Night, and Good Luck” as an opposite the table role.But hats off to the truly fine talents of Mol as the uninhibited yet deeply morale and most importantly intelligent Bettie Page who lets her child-like innocence beam through her bold nudity and now-considered-tame-and-quaint-borderline- kitschy poses that caught the male fancy for decades and is still a bookmark for human sexuality in this country and perhaps the world overall. Mol is perfect and uncannily resembles her portrait’s subject down to her knowing-teasing smile. The real Bettie Page was reportedly not involved with the project but apparently gave her blessing and continues to live a somewhat secluded life that is alluded to in the final moments as to having found Jesus and shirking her ‘notorious’ image once and for all. A shame since this film oddly embraces the resounding decency imbued within its subject, radiating for all to see in its naked splendor.

  • amr-baaptt
    amr baaptt

    I was at the small gathering at Hef’s house for this movie. In fact, I had dinner with Bettie just before the movie. We were both Southerners and enjoyed each others’ company in a well connected conversation about alternative medicine and spirituality. After dinner, we went into Hef’s screening room. I always sit directly in front of Hef’s sofa, nearest to the screen. Bettie was several rows back in a chair. All was fine until the rape scene. Betty screamed,”No! No!” from the back of the room and ran out, through the lobby, outside and into an SUV. I followed her. She let me into the SUV with her and I proceeded to calm her down. She was crying,”No one was supposed to know that!” Apparently, only Bettie and one other person (a relative) knew about the gang rape. She was very upset and felt betrayed that her lifelong secret had been exposed and she had to witness it in a room full of strangers. Hef never did come out to see what was going on. Richard Bann, a long timer at Hef’s did come out. My friend Elliot Silverstein (director of Cat Ballou and A Man Called Horse) came out. I waved them away. I sat and talked to Bettie for quite a while until her driver appeared and took her away. For ANYONE to say this movie pleased Bettie and she liked it is not true! And whoever wrote that was NOT in the room when this film premiered at Hef’s. I was there. I sat in the car with this marvelous woman, then in her 80s and held her hand as she cried. That is the God’s honest truth. My heart went out to her. She truly felt that Hollywood had beaten her down yet again.

  • mhaaviir-jgnnaath
    mhaaviir jgnnaath

    I had a vague idea of who Bettie Page was, partly due to her appearance in the very wee days of Playboy (apparently, when she got her photo taken of her and her Santa hat, just that, she didn’t know what the mag was). The movie, co-written and directed by American Psycho’s Mary Harron, fleshes out the key parts of her life well enough. A southern belle of a church goer has some bad experiences and leaves them behind to seek better times in New York City, where she gets into modeling, and from there a lot more. Soon, she becomes the underground pin-up sensation, with bondage the obvious (and “notorious” of the title) trait attributed to her. The actress Gretchen Moll portrays her, and gets down the spirit of this woman about as well as she could, which is really a lot of the success of the film. She’s not a simplistic character, even if at times her ideas of morality are questionable (“well, Adam and Eve were naked, weren’t they?” she comments a couple of times). Apparently, the filmmakers leave out the later years of Page’s life and leave off with her in a kind of redemptive period, leaving behind the photo shoots for Jesus.In all, the Notrious Bettie Page is not much more than a kind of usual bio-pic presented by HBO films, albeit this time with the stamina for a feature-film release. The best scenes that Harron captures are Page in her “questionable” positions, getting photos of her in over-the-top poses and starring in ridiculous films of whips and chains and leather uniforms. This adds a much needed comic relief to the film’s otherwise usual nature. It’s not that the story behind it is uninteresting, which involves the government’s investigation into the ‘smut’ that came out of such photos and underground magazines. But there isn’t much time given to explore more of what is merely hinted at, with Page and her complexities or her relationships or to sex and the fifties. It’s all given a really neat black and white look and sometimes it seemed as if Harron was progressing some of the black and white photos to be tinted more as it went along. It’s a watchable view if you’re not too knowledgeable of Bette Page, and probably for fans too.

  • owen-spaan-peeters
    owen spaan peeters

    Canadian filmmaker Mary Harron is a cultural gadfly whose previous films laid bare some the artistic excess of the Sixties and the hollow avaricious Eighties. With “The Notorious Bettie Page” she points her unswerving eye at Fifties America, an era cloaked in the moral righteousness of Joe McCarthy, while experiencing the beginnings of a sexual awakening that would result in the free love of the next decade. Harron and her co-writer Guinevere Turner, are clearly not interested in the standard biopic of a sex symbol. This is a film about the underground icon of an era and how her pure unashamed sexuality revealed both the predatory instincts and impure thoughts of a culture untouched by the beauty of a nude body. If the details of Bettie’s life were all the film was concerned about, then why end it before her most tragic period was about to begin. Clearly, Harron is more interested in America’s attitudes towards sexual imagery then and now. Together with a fearless lead performance by Gretchen Mol and the stunningly atmospheric cinematography of W.Mott Hupfel III, she accomplishes this goal admirably, holding up a mirror to the past while making the audience examine their own “enlightened” 21st Century attitudes towards so-called pornography. As America suffocates under a new conservatism, this is a film needed more than ever.

  • diana-azevedo
    diana azevedo

    I saw this movie at the 2006 Palm Springs International Film Festival and it is a movie and not a film since it apparently was shot by HBO to be shown on their cable network sometime this year. This movie presents Page as a bondage and discipline fetish pinup and B&D stag film actress who had enough talent to become a real actress. Page was a little more than that and the film touches on some of her other roles in modeling but not enough to balance out the career of the 50’s pinup icon. This film is supposedly based on the book “The Real Bettie Page” by Richard Foster. It’s shot in black and white for that 1950’s nostalgia feel. I have the book called “Bettie Page The Life of a Pinup Legend” that has a lot of great photos chronicling the career of Page and I must say that this movie reproduces on film, with Gretchen Mol as Page, many of those famous photo’s very accurately. Mol herself with the Bettie Page black wig and brown contact lenses is Bettie Page. Not only does she have the Bettie Page look but she has the smile and characteristics of her personality that came through the camera down perfect. And her body is as close to a replica of Page’s as possible. Terrific casting. The story is kind of thin and tabloidesque and certainly could have been a lot better. But this is a pretty good TV movie. I would rate it a 7.0 of a scale of 10 and recommend it’s viewing when it comes on TV.

  • niels-kallen
    niels kallen

    “The Notorious Bettie Page” is about a woman who always wanted to be an actress but instead became one of the most famous pin up girls in the history of America. Bettie Page played by Gretchen Mol was one of the first sex icons in America. The type of modeling Bettie Page took part in included nudity and bondage which lead to a U.S Senate investigation in the 1950s.Walking out of the film, all I could think about was how far we have come in terms of pornography since the 1950s. You can go on the internet now and find some of most disturbing and shocking images ever shot, that the footage questioned in “The Notorious Bettie Page” seems almost childlike and innocent. Most of the footage including the bondage did not feature nudity when Bettie Page was involved yet today we have sick images where we can see women having sex with animals. I find that maybe the envelope has been pushed a little too far since the 1950s because looking at this movie in terms of today’s pornography, it was very tastefully done.To be honest, I was pretty impressed with “The Notorious Bettie Page,” I found the film to be very well done and interesting. The movie is exactly what the trailer leads you to believe it will be and is a very interesting look at one of the first female sex icons in America. Gretchen Mol looks just like Bettie Page and gives a very fine performance. I also thought that since the movie was shot in black and white it made the film seem realistic because it made the audience believe they were watching a film created in the late 1950s.My only complaint about the film was the running time, there seemed to be a few scenes that were cut and seemed to be a little shorter than they should have been. I looked this up and it seems that 10 minutes was cut from the film since its original showing at the Toronto Film Festival. Also the ending was pretty tame and I was expecting a little more from it or maybe some paragraphs to come on the screen to tell the audience more about Bettie Page’s life where the film left off. Those are my only two complaints about the film other than that the directing was solid, the acting was great especially Gretchen, and the writing was good.Mary Harron, who directed “American Psycho”, which is one of my favorite films, is the director and writer of “The Notorious Bettie Page.” I feel that Mary is a very talented director who knows how to create a setting and create great movies based on characters because like “Psycho”, Bettie Page is a character study and a fine one at that. Harron captures the 40s and 50s with ease as well as all the characters. She is a very talented director who I hope will be around for many years to come.Bottom Line: “The Notorious Bettie Page” is definitely worth a look. It’s a very interesting story that shows how far America, as well as the world, has come in terms of pornography. The film also provides a fine performance by Gretchen Mol who literally nails the role of Bettie Page on the head. And top it off with a talented director who was able to capture the look and feel of a previous era and you have a good movie on your hands. Sadly, this film is probably going to flop since not many besides people who grew up in this era will show interest in the film but I think it’s worth checking out.MovieManMenzel’s final rating for “The Notorious Bettie Page” is a 8/10. It’s an interesting character study about one of the most famous pin up girls and sex icons in American history.

  • anne-jalonen
    anne jalonen

    Bettie Page was a icon of the repressed 1950s, when she represented the sexual freedom that was still a decade away, but high in the hopes and dreams of many teenagers and young adults. Gretchen Mol does a superb job of portraying the scandalous Bettie, who was a small town girl with acting ambitions and a great body. Her acting career went nowhere, but her body brought her to the peak of fame in an admittedly fringe field. Photogrsphed in black and white with color interludes when she gets out of the world of exploitation in New York, this made-for-TV (HBO) film has good production values and a very believable supporting cast. The problem is, it’s emotionally rather flat. It’s difficult to form an attachment to the character, since Bettie is portrayed as someone quite shallow and naive given the business she was in. The self-serving government investigations are given a lot of screen time, which slows down the film towards the end. But it’s definitely worth watching for the history of the time, and to see the heavy-handed government repression that was a characteristic of the fifties. 7/10

  • craig-wilson
    craig wilson

    More a snapshot of the most popular pinup of all time than your typical dragged out biopic, this fun and fabulous film has the look and feel of the era with an excellent soundtrack and everything you would want in an indie-type film. I think the tendency would be to portray Bettie Page as some sort of sex vixen, like a Jayne Mansfield. But if you’ve truly looked carefully at Bettie’s poses, she always looked happy. Not a “you wish you could get with me” haughty look, nor the “I’m just doing this because my acting career didn’t work out” look of a porn star. And so, the ladies involved with this film (three female producers, a female writer/ director, female co-writer and the lovely Gretchen Mol, who I’m sure helped shape this role with her own sugary influence) really captured the idea of a sweet, somewhat naive, southern girl who really enjoyed having her photo taken and hoped that good ol’ JC wouldn’t be too upset with her. Gretchen Mol turns out a career high performance (she may just have the most perfect breasts ever), which I am happy about, because she did have the curse. Several years ago, she made the cover of Vanity Fair when no one really knew who she was, touting her as the next It-girl. And let’s be frank, that was a bit presumptuous. I mean unfortunately she has never made it to Gwyneth status, though not for lack of talent. Making a few poor film choices when you are a pretty blonde in fickle Hollywood renders you forgettable I’m afraid. If this doesn’t put her back on the A-list, well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.Intensely private, Bettie herself has not seen the film yet. Bettie left the pinup party on a high note and fell in love with her old flame, Jesus. Whatever floats your boat honey. You were one helluva woman. I hope you’re happy wherever you are.Congratulations Mary Harron, you’ve done our cult idol justice.

  • brandon-lawson-jr
    brandon lawson jr

    One of the great pioneers of Pre-XXX exploitation cinema, David Friedman, has often said that one of the main keys to his success (particularly in regards to his sexploitation films) was that he always teased the audience. Show them just enough to lure them in (and give them some of what they want), but not enough so that were satisfied and didn’t have to come back (but leave them asking for more).Certainly, Bettie Page and the Klaws knew how to tease their audience when they did their photo and film shoots. Unfortunately, the same could be said for this film and it disappoints for that reason. Harron’s film is all surface and tease (and well done in that regard), but we never learn that much of the person behind the bondage.For a low budget film Harron is quite deft in combining stock footage, set decoration-wardrobe and film stock manipulation to bring the era to life. The recreations of Bettie Page’s career are handled with care and attention to detail. Were the same only able to be said about the screenplay which is banal and…ahem…only skin deep.Judging the acting is more problematic in that Harron has chosen to go along with what seems to be the prevailing technique current filmmakers have when portraying characters of the 1950’s – They seem to smile, grin and leer in a bizarre ritualistic way as if they were the members of a cult who can communicate with one another through their teeth and eyes! Mol does her best within this construct, even if she’s too thin to realistically depict the voluptuous Page as she was (fortunately, Harron was wise enough to find a suitable actress without anachronistic implants).It’s not quite correct as many have contended that the film doesn’t tell a linear narrative story (many have argued that it’s just a slice of her life, nothing more). There IS an arc to the story. What’s crucially missing are the thoughts and feelings of Bettie herself. Surely, a girl with such a strict religious background (which she returned to), would have believed something more strongly about the sexual nature of her work than “Adam and Eve were naked”. When the film gets more serious towards the end, both it and Mol’s performance are harmed because the audience has gotten used to the winks and the smiles, and haven’t been given reason to think any more deeply than that.In the end, it’s like that glossy magazine you see on the newsstand, all bright, shiny and alluring, but you suspect that inside it will be a teasing disappointment.P.S. Just a note on the Black & White photography. Pity that better care wasn’t given to the film stocks used for the release prints. They seem to have blue tint to them, so you don’t get the full dark blacks and bright whites of true B&W film stock. Hopefully, this will be corrected on DVD.Also, because Page is such an icon, there’s an odd sense that you don’t WANT to know the details behind the image (even when they are so superficial as here). Of course, recent biographies and a recent L.A. Times interview with Page herself have sort of let the cat out of the bag prior to this film.

  • aimee-goncalves
    aimee goncalves

    If this film strikes you (as it did us and, apparently, others departing the theater) as disappointingly thin, it may be because the subject herself is mildly disappointing. The film faithfully presents us Bettie Page as she probably was: a playful almost-innocent from the rural South whose career as “the pinup queen of the universe” was for her just goofy, natural fun. Her eventual moral qualms, religious conversion and sudden departure from nude and bondage modeling are biographically accurate, yet hard to understand given how untroubled she seemed by her livelihood.There are many reasons to see this film even so, not least of which are the amazing b&w noir cinematography of W. Mott Hopfel III (complete with old fashioned wipes and dissolves), the 1950’s-faithful acting of the cast under the direction of Mary Harron, pitch-perfect performances by some of our most underrated supporting actors (including Chris Bauer, Lili Taylor, Sarah Paulson, Austin Pendleton, Dallas Roberts and Victor Slezak), not to mention the Oscar-worthy and technically difficult lead performance of Gretchen Mol.Ms. Mol does several scenes fully naked and most others in amazing period lingerie and “specialty” costumes (gloriously assembled by costume designer John A. Dunn), yet she astonishingly maintains Bettie Page’s unstudied pleasure in her lush body. To watch Ms. Mol as Ms. Page, an aspiring actress, progressing through degrees of progressively less “bad” auditions and student acting scenes is to see a truly fine actress in complete control of her craft.The script does effectively bring us into 1950’s America, where childhood sexual abuse, lawless abduction and rape, and the legal suppression of brands of pornography which today seem laughably tame, is a reality. 50’s New York is evoked with seamlessly-inter cut news reel footage. 50’s Miami comes alive in super-saturated, 16mm-style color. The real Bettie Page seems to scamper, smile and pose before us, and yet the effect is curiously lightweight, barely lewd and not at all dangerous.How odd that bondage’s greatest icon should be so lacking in venom, and that this technically excellent biopic should have so little sting.

  • andrew-mcgrath
    andrew mcgrath

    For a film that’s ostensibly about sex and leather, it doesn’t have any right to be as oddly sweet as it is. The story of Bettie Page, a good Christian girl from the South who’s momma wouldn’t let her date until she married, who moved to New York and ended up becoming the most successful pin-up of her age, is driven by an outstanding performance from Gretchen Moll. Her Page can’t quite reconcile the pictures that she takes (nobody’s allowed to touch, it’s all fun and respectful) with the pornography trials and supposed ill-effects that her images have on the world around her.Page has been an inspiration to every burlesque artist since, not just because she had a figure to die for, but because she invested every picture with an innocent sense of fun that was uniquely sexy and simple at the same time. Rather like this film, in fact. Filmde in both black and white and glorious technicolour, it’s a lovely way to spend a couple of hours.