Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: "Bettie Page Reveals All" is as Good as Her Looks

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 25 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

Bettie Page Reveals All (2012)
Running time:  101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
MPAA – R for sexual content and graphic nudity throughout
WRITER:  Doug Miller
CINEMATOGRAPHERS:  Grant Barbeito, Angel Barroeta, Doug Miller, and Jay Miracle
EDITORS:  Julie Chabot, Douglas Miller, and Jay Miracle

DOCUMENTARY – Biography and History

Starring:  Bettie Page, Hugh M. Hefner, Paula Klaw, Greg Theakston, Harry Lear, Art Arnsie, Olivia De Berardinis, Steve Brewster, and Richard Bann

Bettie Page Reveals All is a 2012 documentary film from director Mark Mori.  The film is the life story of the late Bettie Page (April 22, 1923 to December 11, 2008).  It also examines Page’s cultural influence.  Page was famous in the 1950s for her pin-up photos, and she is still often referred to as the “Queen of Pinups.”

Considered by fans and admirers as “the world’s greatest pinup model,” cult icon Bettie Page recounts the true story of her sometimes drama and strife-filled life.  It is a story that took place in front of the camera, as Page’s willingness to model for racy fetishistic photos earned her a huge following of admirers and of those who collected pin-up photography.  Page battled censorship, including a United States Senate investigation.  Along the way, Page helped launch the sexual revolution in the United States.

Bettie Page Reveals All is an adoring documentary in which Bettie Page tells all.  She only appears on screen in archival photos and film footage.  Director Mark Mori conducted an audio interview of Page, and he used that as the film’s voice-over narration through which Page tells her story.

Bettie Mae Page was an American model whose career began in 1950 when she met Jerry Tibbs, a police officer with an interest in photography.  Tibbs took pictures of Page and also put together her first pin-up portfolio.  Tibbs suggested that Page style her hair with bangs in front, and those bangs soon became an integral part of her distinctive look.

Through “camera clubs,” Page entered the field of “glamour photography” and became a popular camera club model.  Her lack of inhibition in posing made both her name and image a hit in the erotic photography industry.  Images of Page soon appeared in men’s magazines such as Beauty Parade, Wink, and Titter, among others.

From 1952 through 1957, Page posed for photographer Irving Klaw and his sister, Paula Klaw.  The Klaws owned a mail-order business that sold photographs with pin-up and BDSM themes, and those photographs would also make Page the first famous bondage model.  Page continued to model and pose for other photographers, and attracted the attention of Playboy founder, Hugh Hefner.  Page was one of Playboy magazine’s earliest “Playmates of the Month” (“Miss January 1955”).

However, a Senate committee, an FBI interview, and an upsetting experience with a group of photographers seem to have led Page to retire from modeling and pin-up photography.  Her life out of the public eye was filled with bad relationships and divorce.  There were encounters with law enforcement officials that led to a stay in a mental institution.  Her conversion to evangelical Christianity also caused her some trouble.

Meanwhile, the Bettie Page that was an image in pin-up photographs retained a cult following.  In the late 1970s and early 1980s, various book companies published books that collected pictures of Bettie.  At the same time, cartoonists, painters, and other artists began to use Bettie Page as an inspiration for their work and some even started painting images of Bettie Page.

Perhaps, the person that really launched the Bettie Page revival in the 1980s was cartoonist and illustrator, the late Dave Stevens.  In 1982, Stevens introduced his comic book character, “The Rocketeer,” in a backup feature in issues #2 and #3 of the comic book series, Pacific Comics.  Stevens gave his star, Cliff Second a/k/a The Rocketeer, a love interest based on Bettie Page.  The Rocketeer, which would eventually be adapted into a film by Walt Disney Pictures, is how I first learned of Bettie Page.

Bettie Page Reveals All is like an open letter from Page to her fans, but the film is also like a love letter from director Mark Mori to both Page and to her fans and admirers.  Bettie stated that she wanted fans to remember her as the Bettie Page in the pin-up photographs taken of her in the 1950s, so we do not need to see her as a senior citizen in this film.  Pin-up Bettie was one of the most beautiful women ever to be photographed.  Her unique looks, curvy figure (measurements: 36-24-37), and innate sexiness and attractiveness practically shine in those photographs.  Even seeing the photos via a movie cannot diminish their power to attract both male and female admirers.

This is my recommendation for Bettie Page Reveals All.  See it because it is a unique story about someone who truly deserves to be described as an icon.  Most of all, see Bettie Page Reveals All so that you can see a matchless example of true physical beauty and perfection in American popular culture.

8 of 10

Sunday, May 18, 2014

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