Review: Bettie Page Reveals All

Please note: This article is published as an archive copy from Philadelphia City Paper. My City Paper is not affiliated with Philadelphia City Paper. Philadelphia City Paper was an alternative weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The last edition was published on October 8, 2015.

The pin-up legend gets fawning fan treatment in this shoddily made, amateur-hour documentary.

Review: Bettie Page Reveals All

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.

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