Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Notorious Bettie Page

Instead of calling this film The Notorious Bettie Page they should have called it The Insightful Bettie Page.
I'll explain why later on in the blog.

For those of you who don't know, Bettie Page was a famous pin-up girl from the 1950's, appearing in men's magazines during the introduction of magazines such as Playboy.

She was also made an example of in a US Senate subcommittee investigation into smut and the demoralisation of the nation's youth.

Here's the movie poster. Ooh lala.

The story of Bettie Page (Gretchen Mol) is told mostly in black and white; something I had to get used to early on.
I've watched black and white movies in the past without too much problem however for this movie I thought this effect was only going to last for the intro.
I was wrong. In time I found this effect to work quite well in relation to pace and structure of the story.

Doesn't Bettie look a picture here? :)

I really need to congratulate Gretchen Mol for undertaking this role. To portray this character so honestly, and to give herself completely over to the role certainly says something for Gretchen's own character.
I'm surprised an actor of this calibre hasn't been in more films. To date I've only seen her also in the remake, 3:10 To Yuma.

After moving from Tennessee to New York Bettie had a few run in's with some less than decent folk. However she soon came under the employment of brother and sister, Irving and Paula Klaw (Chris Bauer and Lili Taylor respectively).

Irving and Paula are in the business of shooting and selling Hollywood celebrity photos, and on the side they also shoot and sell bondage photos. Something Bettie seems to have a knack for.

Irving and Paula are decent people, and Chris Bauer and Lili Taylor portray this with ease.

What set Bettie Page apart from others, and the reason I thought she should be known as the Insightful Bettie Page is because Bettie could seperate her working life and her personal life.

Whilst men might love the photos Bettie posed in, Bettie found her true love in life with husband Billy Neal (Norman Reedus), and also from acting in theatre productions.

Whilst men might lust, obsess, and fixate over the photos she posed in, Bettie could see that there was more to life than the work she did for the Klaw's, and this understanding lead her to ultimately a happy and fulfilling life.

Aside from working for the Klaw's, Bettie also spent time in Miami with photographer Bunny Yeager (Sarah Paulson).

Bunny Yeager went on to shoot some of Bettie's more demure photos which are now recognised the world around.
In this movie Bunny also acts as a realisation that the work Bettie is doing for the Klaw's isn't exactly the greatest thing for her to be doing.

Bunny Yeager only has a few scenes but they're good ones, and Sarah Paulson does some good work with them.

A big part (in the movie) for Bettie to realise she needs to make a change is in due to John Willie (Jarad Harris) swearing a jingle in front of her.
Being a Church-going Southerner Bettie is offended by his casual tongue, and from this soon finds something is not quite right about John Willie.

She needs to get away.

At this point in the movie I was wondering just how the film makers would end it. I won't spoil the finale for you but I felt satisified with the ending and felt it gave everything a position spin.

Here's the movie trailer

Here's the DVD if you wish to purchase it
The Notorious Bettie Page

Here's the soundtrack, available for purchase
The Notorious Bettie Page

Now I apologise for not showing more photos of Gretchen Mol as Bettie however if that's what you're after just do a Google search, or better yet, track down the movie and rent it. It'll certainly be worth your time.

Just quickly I'd like to point out two performances from familiar old faces. John Cullum (Northern Exposure) as the Preacher In Nashville, and Austin Pendleton (Short Circuit, My Cousin Vinny) as the Acting Teacher. It's nice to see some faces which leave you wondering, "Where have I seen this actor before?"

There are some huge points in Bettie's life which were not shown or discussed in the movie and if you're interested in finding out more about Bettie again, just do a Google search. I'm sure you'll be entralled.

All up I would give the film 7 out of 10, simply because at the start I was wondering if it was worth setting through the entire film. I can gladly say it certainly is.

What did you think of this review? Please comment, or email me directly at

No comments:

Post a Comment