Monday, May 26, 2014

The Notorious Bettie Page (2005)

Director: Mary Harron

Writers: Mary Harron, Guinevere Turner

Composer: Mark Suozzo

Starring: Gretchen Mol, Chris Bauer, Jared Harris, Sarah Paulson, Cara Seymour, David Strathairn, Lili Taylor, John Cullum, Normon Reedus, Dallas Roberts, Kevin Carroll, 

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Pin-Up Sensation That Shocked The Nation.

Plot: The story of Bettie Page, uber-successful 1950's pin-up model, one of the first sex icons in America, and the target of a Senate investigation (based on her bondage photos).

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I love the opening with the seamless mixing of the original footage of a busy city sidewalk at night with the 'special' magazine shop.  The 50s jazz score hits all the right notes and it's a great bam-zoom way to open the picture.  We stay in B&W through Bettie's early years as a teen, her days in New York City getting noticed by photographer, Jerry Tibbs (Carroll), and working as a fetish model for Irving and Paula Klaw (Bauer & Taylor).

They do some really neat magazine cover recreations with Bettie (Mol) moving within the cover and text.  It's a really neat effect.  That brief sequence is in color as is another showing a recreation of 8mm home movies.  Then the color pops the moment she goes to Miami to work with Bunny Yeager and it's stunning.

And what's remarkable is how gorgeously period the color is.  The folks behind this deserve a lot of praise.  From this point until the end, whenever she's in Miami we're in color.  Director Mary "AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000)" Harron made a top notch picture here.  I almost forgot to mention Gretchen Mol's splendid performance.  One thing I've always loved about Bettie is how playful and happy she always looked.  Mol captures that look and feel perfectly.  She embodied Bettie Page and that's not easy.  What a fun picture.  Highly recommended.

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