Portrait of an American innocent. In 1955, Bettie Page (1923-2008) waits to testify before a U.S. Senate sub-committee 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
Demi Moore was said to be very keen on playing Bettie Page but lost the role to Liv Tyler, who eventually backed out during the prolonged development stage before Gretchen Mol was finally cast. Before Mol's casting, Ione Skye and Sherilyn Fenn where considered for the role. By the time production was greenlit, Fenn was deemed to be "too old" for the role and Skye was pregnant. See more »
In the famous 'Jungle Bettie' pics, Bettie posed with cheetahs. In the movie they are jaguars. See more »
[for her photo shoot, Bettie is tied up wearing slinky lingerie]
Do you mind if I ask you a question, Bettie? What do you think Jesus would think about what you're doing now?
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.
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craft service - Grover Cleveland, craft service assistant - Benjamin Harrison See more »
Written by Art Pepper
Performed by Art Pepper
Courtesy of Blue Note Records a Division of Capitol Records, Inc.
Under license from EMI Film & Television Music See more »
not too surprising it's an HBO film, but a good one nonetheless, with a terrific lead in Moll
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.
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