Review: Bettie Page Reveals All
The pin-up legend gets fawning fan treatment in this shoddily made, amateur-hour documentary.
City Paper grade: C-
The pin-up legend gets fawning fan treatment in this shoddily made, amateur-hour documentary by director Mark Mori. In the 1950s, Bettie Page brought a disarming sweetness to countless kinky poses, and the film makes a few fumbling attempts to explore the contradictions of this devoutly religious woman who made bondage seem so friendly more than half a century prior to 50 Shades of Grey. Working from a poorly recorded audio interview conducted before Page’s death in 2008, the best parts of Bettie Page Reveals All allow this sly Southern belle to tell her own story in a matter-of-fact, gee-whiz tone. Mori glosses over her harrowing tales of sexual assault with a barrage of chintzy music, stock footage and flashy video effects that were presumably state of the art during the Reagan administration. Page’s decade-long stay in a mental institution is similarly shunted aside in favor of gaseous talking-head interviews with the likes of Hugh Hefner and assorted hangers-on, sometimes congratulating themselves for being kind to the icon in her later years, but mostly just talking about her bangs. Still, the photographs endure, conveying a happy, hearty sexuality that this stumblebum film is at a loss to elucidate. Then again, there are worse ways to spend 101 minutes than looking at Bettie Page.