Published on NewYorkCool.com
by Christina M. Hinke
New York Cool
April 14, 2006
Bettie Page was a bondage babe, a Baptist, a beauty pageant runner up, a bikini model, and a bare-all nudist-magazine model. "Itís quite a treat to meet the notorious Bettie Page,Ē said one voyeur of her fetish photos. And in Mary Harronís film, it is quite a treat to see the 1950ís pin-up legend portrayed as all the things she was, not just as a busty, black-banged beauty in a bikini. Harron took the high road and gives a glimpse of a girl with a moral Christian background, a background that was the mainstay of Page's daily life even when she was posing nude. Bettie believed that Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden of Eden and when they sinned, they put on clothes. She believed this even after she gave up modeling in 1959 to go preach the word of God. The film shows us this side of Bettie - a girl from Tennessee with a sweet-natured charm.
Harron also delves into the scandal and the resulting courtroom battles to banish pornographic literature and spends too much time there. It takes away from the spirit of Bettie that is portrayed in the film. Harron hadnít originally thought of Gretchen Mol to play Bettie, but thankfully she found her. When Mol is on screen the energy doesnít stop. Bettie's innocence, curiousness, the unabashed joy in posing nude, and the charm that is symbolic of Bettie Page is in every pore of Molís skin. She is Bettie Page (but with a little less booty).
Mostly shot in black and white with splashes of color film, Hannon depicts 1950's New York and Miami with verve and just the right amount of kitsch. She shows the era as a fun, invigorating, explosive time for a world which is on the brink of seeing Playboy on newsstands, an era that was the seed for the free love era of the 1960s. Bettie Page may not have known what lay ahead, but her free-spirited love of nudity was a herald for the decade to come. So here's to Bettie: you were ahead of your time and are a true icon.
Opens Friday, April 14, 2006
Starring: Gretchen Mol; Christian Bauer; Christopher Bauer; and Jared Harris.
Copyright 2006 Christina M. Hinke. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.