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The Notorious Bettie Page (2005)

6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 8,081 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 96 user | 110 critic | 38 from Metacritic.com

The story of Bettie Page, uber-successful 1950's pin-up model, one of the first sex icons in America, and the target of a Senate investigation (based on her bondage photos).

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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John Willie
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Maxie
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Preacher in Nashville
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Nervous Man
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Teacher
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Billy Neal
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Scotty
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Minister in Miami
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June
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Jerry Tibbs
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Storyline

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. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Good Girl. Bad Girl. Sinner. Saint. Who is. . . See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for nudity, sexual content and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 April 2006 (Canada)  »

Also Known As:

The Ballad of Bettie Page  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$143,131 (USA) (14 April 2006)

Gross:

$1,410,778 (USA) (23 June 2006)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Martin Scorsese and Liv Tyler had been developing a competing project, but then Scorsese was given the green-light for The Aviator (2004), and he backed out. Liv Tyler also subsequently left. See more »

Goofs

In one 'bondage shoot' scene, Norman Reedus shoots the bound Betty with a Leica camera, lens retracted. Collapsible lenses on Leicas need to be extended to shooting position for proper focusing. Shooting with a lens retracted will result in blurred pictures, and all photographers who shot with Leicas should know that. See more »

Quotes

[for her photo shoot, Bettie is tied up wearing slinky lingerie]
John Willie: Do you mind if I ask you a question, Bettie? What do you think Jesus would think about what you're doing now?
Bettie Page: Well, Mr. Willie, I've thought about this quite a lot and I'm not really sure if I know anymore. I think God has given us some kind of talent and he wants us to use it. That's why he gives it to us.
See more »

Crazy Credits

craft service - Grover Cleveland, craft service assistant - Benjamin Harrison See more »

Connections

References Destry Rides Again (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

It's a Good Day
Written by Dave Barbour (as David M. Barbour) and Peggy Lee
Performed by Peggy Lee
Courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
Under license from EMI Film & Television Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A Brilliant and Innocent Test of the Current Legal Climate
9 April 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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.


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