'Bettie Page Reveals All' Movie Review  | Movie Reviews Site

"Bettie Page Reveals All"

"Bettie Page Reveals All" Movie Review: 3 Stars

by Gary Goldstein

Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Mark Mori's "Bettie Page Reveals All" is an intimate look at one of the world's most recognized sex symbols, told in her own words for the first time.

In the kicky documentary, Bettie Page, the 1950s cult pin-up gal with the trademark bangs is called "the first icon of her nature," "an extraordinary creature" and a "revolutionary."

But according to Page herself, who was captured in an audio-only interview by director Mark Mori more than a decade before her 2008 death, she was just an uninhibited young woman, comfortable with her photogenic looks, who enjoyed sex, posing and making folks happy.

Bettie Page was the girl next door, if the girl next door rocked fishnets, snub-toed stilettos and a leather corset.

Page's candid conversation with Mori serves as the narration for the film, which retraces the iconic model's often remarkable life from her impoverished Tennessee roots to her seven groundbreaking years as a wildly popular pin-up (she posed both bikinied and nude) and fetish model to her mysterious exit from her career in 1957.

En route, she playfully posed for countless "camera club" enthusiasts, was crowned Playboy's Miss January 1955 and ran afoul of McCarthy-era repression.

As captivating as this part of the movie is -- it's jam-packed with provocative photos and film clips of Page, as well as with vivid period archival footage -- the retelling of her post-modeling years proves even more riveting: torrid affairs and troubled marriages, born-again Christianity, recurring paranoid schizophrenia, 10 years in a state mental hospital (1982-1992) and the exceedingly private Southern California life that followed.

Meanwhile, her heyday imagery would inspire a whole new generation of models, artists and performers.

Bettie's mushrooming influence on fashion, art, photography, sexuality, film, music and youth culture is articulated in interviews with pin-up artist Olivia, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, Dita Von Teese, Mamie Van Doren, Julie Newmar, TV evangelist Rev. Robert Schuller, erotica collector and publisher Joel Beren, fashion designers Todd Oldham and Chantal Thomas, and model/actresses Rebecca Romijn and Shalom Harlow.

Some of Bettie's close friends in her later years give insight into Bettie, the person behind the iconic image: Steve Brewster, founder of Bettie Scouts of America; Carlo Shahumian, neighbor and friend during the last eight years of her life; and Devin Devasquez, former Playmate and a confidant to Bettie.

Interviews with Paula Klaw (now deceased), who with late brother Irving ran the Manhattan-based mail-order photo firm for which Page did much of her most memorable modeling; several ex-lovers and veteran photographers; and celebrity fans round out this highly watchable portrait.

The complete, true life bio film of the ultimate 50's pin-up queen as told by the Dark Angel herself, Bettie Page.

MPAA rating: R (for sexual content and graphic nudity throughout)

Running time: 1:41.

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