Friday, January 19, 2007
THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE
THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE is a loving, beautifully crafted biography of "The Pinup Sensation That Shocked A Nation." There's cheesecake to be sure, but director Mary Harron and Co-Screenwriter Guinevere Turner also give us angel food, lots of angel food.
Blessed with an infectious smile, sparkling eyes, fetching figure and an inherent innocence that no one (not even Marilyn Monroe) possessed, the real-life Bettie was certainly one of a kind. And while the black leather, garter belts and seamed stockings put a little boop-oop-a-doop in many a gentleman's fetish fantasies, flesh-and-blood Bettie always came across as wholesome, uninhibited and far more playful than pornographic. Even her bedevilling bondage photos showed restraint -- pun intended.
Gretchen Mol is fantastic in the title role. It is inconceivable that any other actress could have so perfectly portrayed the saucy, deeply religious, effervescent Bettie. The supporting cast is excellent as well, particularly Chris Bauer as Irving Klaw and Lili Taylor as Paula Klaw, the brother-sister team that made this "kitten with a whip" world famous. The use of "glorious black & white" for all of the New York scenes evokes just the right feel for the period, and the seamless integration of period stock footage adds a high degree of production value. Likewise, the supersaturated color footage used when the location shifts to Miami is remarkably effective and unobtrusive.
There are always comparisons to ponder. Wilma or Betty? Buffy or Xena? Norma Rae or Bettie Page? For my money its Betty, Xena and Ms. Page.
Thirty lashes anyone? Count me in...