The Notorious Bettie Page
Time Out says
As played (terrifically) by Gretchen Mol, Bettie is sweet-natured and tolerant, God-fearing and sincere, hopeful of a legit acting career but proud to provide a little pleasure and have some fun along the way. And fun is the word: the soft-core industry is presented as a supportive community of misfits, including the always-welcome Lili Taylor and Jared Harris as a louche, soused English snapper. Think ‘Ed Wood’ meets ‘Boogie Nights’ – who knew shooting ‘Second Initiation of the Sorority Girl’ would be such a giggle?
Harron (‘I Shot Andy Warhol’) again proves her aptitude for period pop culture with spot-on soundtrack choices and design details, and punctuates the B&W photography with gloriously garish faux-Technicolor moments. But the production carries a cheap whiff, which might suit the subject but makes it harder to engage with. Bettie’s steadiness compounds this: juvenile gang-rape, the skin trade and public scorn come and go without denting or even modifying her essential peachiness. Her self-sufficiency – naive yet thoughtful – seems to defy worldliness, and therefore change, which makes her paradoxically inspirational and apart. A portrait of the centrefold as a closed book.
Cast and crew
Jonathan M Woodward