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As a fan of pinup girls I knew of Bettie Page as the ultimate starlet. Page is a legend, but I did not know the story behind the doll face. Directed by Mark Mori, Bettie Page Reveals All is a fascinating movie on the life of Bettie Page. Not only does it show case never before shared secrets, it is narrated by the Page herself. You learn of the ups and downs that she faced and how she resurfaced after many years living far from the spotlight. This movie is fun, sassy, and a good story of a legendary beauty from Tennessee Bettie Page. Even if you never heard of Bettie Page, I am sure that you have seen her influence in pop culture. The lady with dark bangs and milky skin with the hour glass figure is an American Icon. The movie also touches on some of the unexpected consequences of the conservative 50s and how Page became a renegade in her art. by Dr. Wilson Trivino
If I could change one social norm in American society it would likely
be that we stop viewing sex as a topic that needs to remain unexplored
and unspoken. America, over recent years, has gotten much better at
acknowledging that sex exists, sometimes in raunchy and sometimes
grotesque forms, but I still see a disturbing rush of uncomfortable
feelings loom over a person when one person (cough, cough myself)
brings up the topic for discussion. I talk about quite a bit with my
friends at school, or just in public, and I've gotten in serious
trouble for being open about sexual topics; I've never been reprimanded
for mentioning something with grotesque violence, such as school
shootings, torture, or even openly talking The Passion of the Christ.
Nearly everybody watches pornography, thinks about sex on a regular basis, consciously or subconsciously considers sleeping with another person, engages in masturbation, has elaborate sexual fantasies, possesses fetishes/sexual preferences, and enjoys feeling intimate pleasure. If you said "not me" to any of those, I fear for the future of our current or potentially-brewing relationship. Expressing and embracing sexual pleasure is one of the most fulfilling and satisfying things a human can experience, so why have we repressed these perfectly natural, often desired feelings and instead think of gratuitous and unnatural violence as more of a socially acceptable topic? A person who challenged America's prudish views on sexuality was not a die-hard feminist, a liberal/conservative activist, somebody with an agenda, a corporate/organizational mouthpiece, or a group of high school/college kids who shouted "we're not gonna take it anymore" from the rooftops of their schools. It was an intelligent, charismatic pin-up girl from the 1950's by the name of Bettie Page, who, arguably, didn't even think of defying norms when she was posing for several photographers and magazines in her prime. She just wanted to show off her inherently beautiful figure, infectious smile, and unbelievably arousing poses.
Mark Mori's Bettie Page Reveals All attempts to piece together the life of the pin-up model, who went from the humblest of beginnings, several relationship ups and downs, an explosion of popularity, the owner of the title "America's raciest sweetheart," to complete obscurity, to an unpredictable resurgence, to her death in 2008. Mori and his filmmakers were fortunate enough to obtain a large amount of audio of Page speaking one-on-one to the filmmakers about her life and her career before her death, which makes the film worth seeing for one reason. This is likely the last piece of information we'll ever get from Page that was not just authorized by her but involved her in person.
With that being said, it's only a shame that the film isn't a bit stronger. The film presents itself in the most basic documentary quality, mirroring a project created with the utilities of Windows Movie Maker and a video-to-MP3 downloading service, as about seventy percent of the film is compiled of a slideshow presentation with the remaining thirty percent catering to talking heads, some who knew Page and some who are just big advocators and supporters of her work.
Immediately, that creates an imbalance in the film's narrative. At times, it wants just Page to tell her story, but its inclusion of outsider opinion shows that it wants a crowd-sourced view on her as a person, a pin-up girl, and an icon of sexual liberation. Mori attempts to mold both together, but, in doing so, he shortchanges some of Page's crucial elements to her story (mainly her proclaimed sexual abuse that she endured by her father, which was experienced by her sisters in an even more grotesque manner). It's almost shocking how casually it is introduced and dismissed.
Nonetheless, this documentary is inherently interesting and works as a great classroom companion for sociology/gender studies courses in the high school and college courses "brave" enough to show it. Sixty years ago (not that long ago when one thinks about it), Betty Page lifting her legs in the air with fishnets covering them, lacey pantyhose draping her buttocks, a bare-midriff visible, and a seductive, lipstick-soaked smile was considered "lewd" and "provocative." Now, Katy Perry can sit on her stomach, completely naked on a cloud in the music video for her smash hit "California Gurls," with the camera angles and background intrusions just barely covering up her no-no areas. My how far we've come.
Furthermore, one model goes on to admit how girls should look up to Page as a contradiction to what "society" and "imaging" tells us now about how women should look, which I'd like to affirm if I may. Page appeared full and complete in the areas males so often desired, and her incredibly vibrant smile and radiant poses and facial expressions only further expressed her beauty and illuminating figure. Page had everything in moderation and exhibits a grand form of beauty girls would be better off admiring than the paper-thin models in the industry today. If it sounds like I have a crush on the young Betty Page, it's because I do.
Bettie Page Reveals All is a title with two different meanings, both of which one could probably infer. One is the more obvious one (depending on the type of person you are), which denotes that Page herself will tell her story and reveal all the burning questions and details you want to know. The other one may need a few moments to develop upon hearing the title (again, heavily depending on the type of person you are), denoting the idea that Page bears all her female figure in the open for us to take as we will. Both accurately define a woman who had nothing to hide, physically and intellectually and forever changed an American social norm. At least she gets a moderately enjoyable film, which is more that can be said about some other heroes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After seeing the trailer a couple months ago, I was excited to see that
it had been recently put onto Netflix. It had been on my list for a
couple of days and last night I finally got around to watching it. The
movie opens and I'm immediately introduced with some of the worst font
I've ever seen (comic sans?) then onto some cheesy background music
(which I assume had been taken from public domain due to a lack of
budget), a montage of Bettie's influence on modern pop culture (some of
which were used multiple times and mirrored), some talking heads, and
D- List celebrity praise (i.e Perez Hilton). I thought for a minute I
was just being too harsh and decided to keep watching but realized that
the whole movie was going to be filled with this.
What stands out clearly is the odd pacing, very little cinematography (putting a camera on a tripod while someone talks), googled images (some of which had other television company logos on them), and random stock cartoons that serve no purpose other than to fill gaps while Bettie talks. I understand it's probably hard to revolve a whole movie around some audio recordings but why not actually go to the places she's talking about and film the locations? It made me think of another film that only used audio interviewers is the Kurt Cobain documentary About a Son, which is filled with amazing cinematography put to the audio.
One part in particular that blew my mind was when Bettie was explaining her abuse as a child as well as her lousy upbringing, which seemed like a sad and compelling story then all of a sudden SMACK here's another loud cheesy song, some cartoons, and then there's Bettie at 29. Wait, where did the other 19 years go? In doing a biography on someone aren't those formative years? I understand if those years were boring and had nothing to do with the actual story of the person but child abuse and a lousy upbringing could have explained A LOT about how a person develops and why they do what they do later in life. To me, this felt very disrespectful to the viewers and to her story.
It's clear that the director admired Bettie Page and that she clearly felt the same way. Bettie granted him permission to interview her and the recordings (which is probably the only known recordings of her voice/latter years) were used as the narration for the film. Having learned this after the seeing the trailer, as well as being interested in her, I was pretty excited to see this film. I haven't seen anything that Mark Mori has done. I'm aware that he is a Oscar nominated director but that was also 13 years ago and he hasn't done much since. It looks like a documentary that a person would have made in 2001 on a very basic editing system.
I've never reviewed a film or felt inclined to do so on IMDb. I have mixed feelings towards my generation of "YELPers" but I couldn't ignore this due to the high rating on here. I feel like people give slack to documentaries just because the subject matter is interesting. Yes, the story of Bettie Page is phenomenal and I did learn more about her from watching this but the poor film making is hard to ignore. I only hope that this movie doesn't deter more ambitious people from doing something with this story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To those for whom Bettie Page is an iconic image without a voice, it
will come as a pleasant surprise to hear her narrate this posthumous
biographical documentary. Director Mark Mori interviewed Ms. Page
roughly a decade before her death in 2008, and supplements the audio
with interviews from boyfriends, one ex-husband, and numerous co-
workers, primarily photographer Bunny Yeager and film
producer/entrepreneur Paula Klaw, who with her brother Irving made the
fetish and bondage films which made Bettie Page "notorious."
There are a few tidbits revealed here that were omitted from the unauthorized biopic "The Notorious Bettie Page," a title which Ms. Page did not appreciate. Bettie was unwanted by her mother and abused by her father; she spent a year in an orphanage; she threatened to kill one of her husbands, Harry Lear; and she spent ten years in a California mental institution, diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.
After her release in 1988, her fortunes took a turn for the better when she met Hugh Hefner, who recommended an agent, who in turn was able to secure licensing fees for Ms. Page's image. Bettie Page spent the last 15 or so years of her life in comfort, basking in her new-found status as a feminist icon.
This is an entertaining doc. No dissenting voices are heard, and there are no real surprises, but it was nice to discover there was a brain and a delightful Tennessee twang behind that gorgeous body.
Recommended for mature audiences, as there is frequent nudity.
It is so amazing to hear Betty's story in a very real sense. this woman lived a very full life that should be respected and celebrated. great job on the filmmaker's part...you have made Betty an identifiable person. I think many of us can relate to the things she had done and been through in life, and honestly admire. Betty lived her life in many arenas and I love that this was represented. I found it especially important that her voice is heard throughout the film. This film is the most thorough representation of the complexity and movement of Betty's life that has been presented to the public so far. It brings the viewer beyond the photos and videos ad gives us insight into the whole person who is certainly an icon. Who would have imagined that Betty was living an entire life outside of the pinups?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This fascinating documentary, directed by Mark Mori, chronicles the
amazing life of Bettie Page, who passed away in 2008. You can figure
this is going to be a truly interesting story, when the film opens with
her funeral attended by such diverse figures as Hugh Hefner and the
Reverand Robert Schuller.
Sexually abused by her father and left in an orphanage by her mother, along with her two sisters, you can see her early life was filled with enormous emotional pain. She emerged however, to begin pin-up modeling, in the 1950's, and you can see her enormous charisma right away, as I would equate it with that of Marilyn Monroe from the same era. Not only did her sexuality leap out of the photos, but you could spot her charm and personality as well.
Page went on to model in girly magazines, as well as bondage and fetish photographs and films, becoming known by some as "The Queen of Bondage'. She even became the 1955 January Playmate of the Month in Playboy magazine. Of course, at that time there was a big push-back from movements that decried what they deemed "pornographic", often led by then Senator Estes Kefauver, of Tennessee.
At the age of 34, Page decided she had had enough of it all and suddenly disappeared from public view. When we find out towards the end of the film what actually happened to her during all these years, it is truly startling and shocking.
The documentary makes it a point to illustrate the enormous influence Page had on many people of today and our culture as well. Amazingly, her popularity appears to be only increasing across the globe today, as she has become an iconic figure for many.
During the movie, you hear Page's voice as she answers questions from the filmmakers, but we never see her face on screen as she was being interviewed. She states that she wants her admirers to remember her as she was then not now. One other point the doc makes is that before she died Page was able to receive some monetary royalties from her work, as it appears she was never paid anything near her value at the time of her original popularity.
Just a note: if you have any sensitivities to nudity or fetish and bondage material, then this is most likely not the film for you, as it's filled with same.
In summary, I thought this movie was highly engrossing and interesting and brought to the screen the remarkable story of a one of a kind personna.
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