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3.4 out of 5 stars31
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 25 February 2011
This film shows how Betty Page got into Topless and nude modelling as well as some rather tame bondage with a very innocent view of the world. it is only after doing it for several years that she even starts to question the ethics of it. By today's standards it is all rather harmless, but I suppose back then it would be considered scandalous.

Anyway Gretchen Mol seems to have been made to play this part, it is very hard to tell her from the real thing when comparing stills from the film with the real Betty Page. She sheds her clothes without the least hint of embarrassment and does the poses exactly as you see in the old pictures from the time.

The film doesn't tell you too much about Betty, so couldn't be considered a Biopic, however I suppose the film maker wanted to tell us about what made her famous, how she got there, and why she stopped. In this respect the film succeeds.

i liked it a lot, Gretchen being a big part of the attraction.
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The cover pronounces "terrific...thrillingly sexy" and carries an 18 certificate but if you expect anything prurient you will be disappointed, Madonna wore what Bettie did 40 years later without comment and I'm not sure why it deserved the 18 certificate.
What you do have is a thoughtful and sympathetic movie detailing Bettie Page's life, filled with believable, well-acted characters.

Gretchen Mol plays Bettie Page and imbues the character with sufficient mystery and innocence that at the end of the movie you are left wondering how much Bettie really knew, was she just "dressing-up" or was it some kind of "pay-back".
The movie is mainly in black and white with occasional colour, this works really well in setting the period and gives the film the required atmosphere, it wouldn't have worked in colour.
It's a good movie.
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on 29 March 2007
I thought this was a really interesting attempt to look at the morality of the 40s through the prism of Bettie Page and a decent attempt to put her into her proper place in history.

Gretchen Mol looks amazingly like Bettie, and does a very nice turn in wide-eyed innocence. However, it is difficult to believe that Bettie remained quite as innocent and free as she was portrayed, particularly given her experiences in early life.

The relationship with her long-term partner is also sketched very loosely, leaving much unsaid.

The black and white filming, with occasional splurges of colour looked beautiful, but lets you know that what you are seeing is not really meant to be a realistic portrayal of Bettie's character; its what she showed those around her at the time.

What I really do not understand, given that there is very little nudity in the film and no intercourse, is how it managed to get an 18 certificate, because there is nothing in this that would be news to a 15 year old. Interesting yes, but erotic or realistic, definitely not.
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on 12 December 2009
Brilliant. An extremely well-observed period piece. The mix of innocence and sheer sexual arousal is rewarding. Attitudes have certainly changed since this was made, but I wouldn't mind going back to the standards portrayed in this very good movie
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on 16 July 2007
Mary Harron, one of a slew of concerned filmmakers to appear in Kirby Dick's recent indictment of the MPAA This Film is Not Yet Rated, writes and directs her third picture. The Notorious Bettie Page is about the cult icon and pinup and bondage model that influenced pornography's entry into the cultural mainstream. Bettie Page unwittingly became kind of symbol of women's liberation long after she rediscovered Christianity. She slipped into the mainstream in variable flashes in comic books, music, television, and of course a new generation of inspired Goth burlesque models. This film is her biopic and unlike many biopics the melodrama is downplayed which is of course good for both the subject matter as well as the length of the picture (just 90 minutes). It comes off as a bit more honest and real then some other biopics but on the other hand it sacrifices being as entertaining for these same reasons. Strange considering the rumors of her violent life after she left modeling.

Bettie Page is played by Gretchen Mol and the rest of the cast is good but they are truly drowned out by a boring script, and of course Gretchen herself. Mol's performance is anything but boring and shows a deep understanding of what makes Page a worthy icon. Mol seemingly disappeared for years and then suddenly showed up and did this. I don't want to dwell on how daring she is for the nudity she does in this movie, because even without that kind of commitment and risk Mol deserves the highest praise possible. She was outstanding and was arguably snubbed of some awards.

Mol is the only great thing about this movie. Page was naive to her situation and just happens to not be shy about showing off her body. You can even see in some of the bondage photos with whips in her hand that she may as well be holding a duster instead...while delicious cookies are being prepared in the kitchen. That innocence combined with the suggestive subject matter is what makes Page so enticing and exceptional. Gretchen Mol got that vibe just right and it permeates throughout this film.

In short, Bettie becomes a model and eventually meets Irving and Paula Klaw who begin shooting her bondage photos. She then goes on to model for Bunny Yeager and those photos show up in Playboy. Bettie gets caught up in a senate hearing about pornography and then she finds Protestantism and leaves modeling. The film doesn't bother to address the more controversial and debated elements to her later life (those mentioned in The Real Bettie Page: The Truth about the Queen of Pinups).

Mary Harron's vision focuses on her career and then just before her disappearance. These early years are worth knowing about even though the story doesn't contain some of the dramatic elements we might find in say Walk the Line or Ray. So it sticks to the public's perception of Bettie. Instead of going with the tabloid drama of her later life it focuses on why she is an icon and that is overall probably more important anyway. There is more that troubled me though as the film also doesn't even touch on the political commentary it could have. Maybe that's alright as well because Bettie Page didn't seem to understand or even care about her role in fighting censorship. Something tells me there could've been a more exciting story here but on the surface The Notorious Bettie Page is a beautifully shot film with one great performance...perhaps that is all it needed.
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on 1 June 2007
On the 26th of September 1983 a short dumpy 60 year old woman stood trial for the attempted murder of Leonie Haddad, a lady whose husband had recently died and had agreed to take in a lodger who came via a housing authority for the elderly. Haddad was not made aware that her new lodger had, in fact, come fresh from The Patton State Mental Hospital where she had been incarcerated for an inexplicable knife attack on a married couple three years previously. Haddad soon realised that something was `rotten in Denmark' when the woman began to lock herself in the bathroom with a tape recorder reciting prophesies about' seven Gods'. Haddad's fears were confirmed one night when she awoke to find her lodger sitting astride her chest holding a bread knife announcing that "God has inspired me to kill you". Haddad managed to knock her assailant out with a telephone but not before she had lost a finger and suffered deep lacerations to her face and chest. It was a miracle she survived. The lodger was judged to be innocent by reason of insanity but sent, kicking and screaming, back to the laughing academy.
Ten years later she was released and found that she was now a celebrity; but not for the brutal attacks on her innocent victims, but for her incarnation of 25 years earlier when she was known as the `Queen of the Curve's, the `Tennessee Tease' and `Miss Pin Up Girl of the World' - the Notorious Bettie Page.

Director Mary Harron, mainly known for `American Psycho' takes us back to the glory days of a legendary cheesecake and bondage model (played solidly enough by Gretchen Mol) who inadvertently wrote the blue print for fetish iconography and whose influence can be detected in everything from comic books to catwalks. T.N.B.P is day-glo fun ride through an evocative depiction of the 1950's where Page, with the familial help of good intentioned boyfriends and photographers, becomes the number one star of pocket sized men's glossies with titles like Wink, Tab and Parade. Her real dream of movie stardom evades her and a brush with the authorities over obscenity charges in 1957 is the inciting incident which leads her to retire from modelling and give herself to God. The overall style of the film is light and frothy and only darkens momentarily with an allusion to her father's incestuous attentions and a sexual assault which inexplicably appears to have no discernable effect on her. Mol plays Page as she seems in her photographs, happy, carefree and fun - even the bondage shots betray little more than a good humoured incomprehensibility. The film ends on the upbeat with Page cheerfully handing out bibles in a park with no indication of the real life unhappy marriages, personal tragedy and decent into murderous insanity which lay before her; avoiding what I think is the essential core of Page's story - rebirth and resurrection.

Having emerged from a decade of incarceration Page found that her cult had been in the ascendance since the mid 1980's and that she had become a huge underground icon, during which, many were asking "whatever happened to Bettie Page". Her `mysterious' disappearance fed the fires of any number of conspiracy theories only adding to the allure of her legend. When the world's media finally caught up with her she gave no hint of her darker past and she was soon giving interviews for magazines, T.V and being photographed at Playboy parties with the likes of Pamela Anderson and the equally tragic Anna Nicole Smith.
She found that she was now more famous than she ever was in her `glory years' but in the glare of this `resurrection' it was only a matter of time before the full story would come to light.

The only notorious thing about The Notorious Bettie Page is they left out the part when she became truly notorious.
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on 20 January 2016
Despite not knowing much about Bettie Page before I watched the film, I thought it was very good and was impressed by the acting and the coherency of the story. Whether or not all of it is true (or close to the truth) doesn't really bother me, as it was enjoyable enough for me not to worry about it. Would recommend for anyone interested in Page, or just generally in the old glamour model world.
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on 6 July 2009
For those who think that Madonnas' image is cutting edge, take a look at this film to see where she discovered her look. Tame by todays standards, but seriously risque in the '50's, this is an enjoyable and amusing look at erotica and censorship in the U.S. Gretchen Mol is a very convincing Bettie, and this film serves as an insight into Ms Pages life, until she withdrew from public adoration.
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on 29 May 2008
Bettie Page to me is the most wonderful sexy woman ever (Apart from my wife..)and this film somehow got under the skin of Bettie, I found it affectionate and charming and as a bio, well I don't think anyone really knows what happened. I realise it is flawed, but as a Bettie fan I ended up feeling good about watching the film.
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on 8 March 2013
VA VA VOOM. VA VA VOOM,. VA VA VOOOOOOOOM!!!!!! Well, what can I say....well, this is a racy, seductive, yet beautful, serene and touching drama biopic film. Gretchen Moll as Ms Betty Page is adorable, sweet and incocent, and a vamp at the time - and a fantastic actress!
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