The Notorious Bettie Page

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Year: 2005

Writer: Mary Harron & Guenevere Turner

Director: Mary Harron

Budget: ?

Gross: $1 410 778

the first thing that struck me during, but more so, after watching The Notorious Bettie Page, was how the film didn't feel like a typical bio pic.  now, to be honest, i'm not sure why that is, but i have a few ideas.

the first thing that came to mind when thinking about the film and my reaction to it was the fact that i knew almost nothing about bettie page before watching the movie.  therefor, i wasn't looking for and/or anticipating the historical markers that i usually do when seeing a bio film about someone i am more familiar with, like: ray charles or johnny cash or mohamad ali.

also, the film didn't feel like it was scripted and constructed around said markers, which two of the three films i mentioned did (i quite like michael mann's Ali).

like i said before, i went into this film knowing almost nothing about bettie (besides her status as pretty much the most famous pinup girl ever) and so the film was a true discovery of who and how she was, from her abused childhood to her innocently falling into pinups and bondage/fetish photography and videos.  not only was i very interested in what i saw, but it made me want to go out and learn more about bettie and her story.  the film does a good job of taking us back to the 50's and the attitudes about sex that lay above and below the surface.

the film also stands out in the technical categories as well:  the mostly black and white cinematography is great and gretchen mol's performance as bettie is really a stand-out job that totally got overlooked a couple years back. the direction by mary harron is also a must mention given how she works all the elements together and also co-wrote the script and has added another quality film to her resume of: I Shot Andy Warhol and American Psycho.

those of you who are unfamiliar with bettie will learn about her and what made her do what she did and those of you already familiar with her story should enjoy seeing it played out in such a good-looking way.

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