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The Notorious Bettie Page
The Notorious Bettie Page
Actors: Gretchen Mol, Lili Taylor, Chris Bauer, Jared Harris, Sarah Paulson
Director: Mary Harron
Genres: Drama, Television
R     2006     1hr 31min

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 ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Gretchen Mol, Lili Taylor, Chris Bauer, Jared Harris, Sarah Paulson
Director: Mary Harron
Creators: Mary Harron, Christine Vachon, Guinevere Turner, John Wells, Katie Roumel, Lori Keith Douglas
Genres: Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Drama, Drama
Studio: Hbo Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/26/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 31min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Keith A. (Keefer522)
Reviewed on 5/24/2013...
Docu-drama about the troubled life, rise to fame and controversy surrounding the famed early 50's pin-up model. Gretchen Mol (hot stuff!!) does a great job as Bettie in this mostly-black & white period piece that includes plenty of T&A but still manages to avoid coming off as sleazy. It's amazing what was considered "porn" in the 1950s, because nowadays most people wouldn't even bat an eyelash at the kind of photos Bettie appeared in.

Movie Reviews

Gentlemen, start your engines
Cinephiliac | Los Angeles, CA | 05/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I was familiar with some of Bettie Page's photographs, but did not know much about her life before going to see "The Notorious Bettie Page." Would it be sordid or the stuff of Greek tragedy? The iconic fetish and pinup model Bettie Page (Gretchen Mol) adorned the covers of numerous men's magazines and starred in 1 reel "specialty films" featuring bondage themes and attire which made her a target for the Senate subcommittee investigation on pornography in the 1950's.

The faux spankings, uncomfortable looking lingerie and impossible footwear which became Bettie's bondage stock in trade seem rather tame and even humorous by contemporary standards--but keep in mind, in the 1950's, married couples were represented on television as sleeping in twin beds and the subjects of pregnancy and sexual intimacy were seldom discussed and never realistically portrayed. Bettie's frisky and playful sexuality must have been shocking.

Unfortunately, the movie skims over Bettie's personal history in such a way as to cause a bit of confusion. I realize there is a large period of time covered rather quickly, but the film fails to bring her life into clear context in not wanting to dwell on how she coped with the more unhappy times of her life. While I appreciate the filmmakers not wanting to be cheap or exploitative about Bettie's personal pain, the film sacrifices substantial clarity.

I understand Gretchen Mol gained nearly 20 lbs. to replicate Bettie's voluptuous curves and the physical transformation is truly amazing. But, more importantly, Mol brings real heart to the role. Although Bettie was victimized throughout her life and her story had all the makings of a self-destructive tragedy, she maintained a sunny and positive outlook and had an innocence that makes her quite endearing. Bettie also found solace and an anchor in her faith.

Ms. Mol's performance is the main reason to see this film. She is stunning and completely fearless. I would rate her performance 5 stars and the film 3-1/2 stars."
"Show some restraint"
girldiver | tangled up in blue. | 06/16/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"A wonderfully produced film. Beautifully cast with Gretchen Mol as Betty Page. Gretchen Mol illuminates the screen with her portrayal of the 1950's pin-up queen. The film is rated R for its sexual content and nudity but I thought the film rather tame and left me more curious about the beginnings of Betty Page. Several scenes alluded to early sexual abuse and victimization in her personal life but didn't portray her as victim in her modeling career. I was left wondering about the woman who survived obvious hardships and yet came across as somewhat naïve about the photographs taken of her.

Perhaps it was the writing of the film that gave Betty Page a child's reasoning in a sexy package. This film gave her a sense of innocence that was at times mind boggling. When you pose in nothing but laced-up leather boots and a whip for a gentleman's magazine it's not just because you like beautiful pictures. Of course, they were beautiful.

The film was shot with both black and white film and what looked like Koda chrome color. The scenes of Betty Page in Miami were in beautiful koda chrome that lent itself to visions of vacations in the fifties where all the women are beautiful and all the men were Mr. Universe candidates. I loved the look of the film. Truly a visual delight and not just because Gretchen Mol was nude.

Before Hugh Hefner and Larry Flint there was Irving and Paula Klaw commissioning specialty photographs and distributing not so mainstream material of the time. The film opens to Betty Page waiting to be interview by the Senate investigating obscenity surrounding her photographs depicting bondage and whips.

I enjoyed the film and was mesmerized by its subject matter and visuals. I would have rathered had a better understanding of Betty Page but I got the feeling she was very complex even if she wasn't necessarily portrayed that way in this film.

Although the subject matter was serious at times you'll laugh and delight at the inner humor of Betty Page that very much comes across in the film.

Mol's Striking Performance Transcends a Luscious Albeit Skin
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 04/22/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Gretchen Mol so perfectly embodies the title role both physically and dramatically that you can almost forgive the somewhat lackluster treatment of 1950's pin-up model Bettie Page's early life story presented in this 2006 movie. In a deceptively facile performance, the actress successfully submerges her blonde, Nordic beauty to play the naive, raven-haired Southern girl with a refreshing lack of self-consciousness. Director Mary Harron and co-screenwriter Guinevere Turner deserve kudos for making a film that does not judge Page's notoriety or provide dime-store psychoanalysis on why she felt comfortable posing for fetish and bondage photos sold under the counter and by mail order. The offset to the filmmakers' approach is that we get a series of somewhat elliptical episodes that are intended to show how her persona was formed, all within the context of her guileless acceptance no matter how outwardly outrageous some of the things that are asked of her.

The time-spanning plot tracks Page from her abused adolescence in Nashville through a brief first marriage to a life-changing trip to New York that begins her inadvertent modeling career while she attempts to become a respectable stage actress. Tenaciously holding on to her strong religious beliefs, Page gains the attention of an army of shutterbug club photographers who have her pose in various states of undress. With each new session, she is asked to pose in increasingly deviant situations. As a framing device for the plot, the filmmakers use the 1955 Senate subcommittee hearing headed by Presidential hopeful Estes Kefauver, who is aggressively looking to clean up the pornography industry. In the eye of the media storm is Page, who views her scandalous photos as harmless expressions of her unfulfilled acting career. With a lot of questions left unanswered, the story simply stops at a point soon after her retirement from modeling with no indication of what happens to Page afterward.

On the plus side, the movie has a great period look with cinematographer Mott Hupfel bringing out a luscious sheen to the black-and-white camerawork with effective forays into saturated color, in particular, when the story moves to Miami. Other than Mol, Harron seems to encourage her cast to act in the stilted, exaggerated style of movies produced during the 1950's as Chris Bauer and Lili Taylor (who seems to be channeling Thelma Ritter) play the Klaws, a money-minded couple who run the photography studio responsible for most of her pictures; Jared Harris especially oily as bondage expert and magazine publisher John Willie; and David Strathairn in an extended cameo as Kefauver.

Above everything else is the intoxicating Mol, who holds the disparate events of Page's life together though her genuinely magnetic quality. Try to take your eyes off her as she unaffectedly poses au natural in the park for a gawking amateur photographer, and you see an actor completely comfortable with herself. But more importantly, look at her as her scandal-ridden reputation weighs on her as others point out how base and lurid her photos are, and you see a beacon into the radical transformation that Page must have experienced. It's a triumphant performance for an actress victimized by premature publicity heralding her as the next big thing nearly a decade earlier. I just wish the rest of the film reflected a little more of the depth that Mol does."