Notorious Bettie Page
Hank has been a bad boy…

Theatrical Release Date: 04/14/2006
Director: Mary Harron
Cast: Gretchen Mol, Chris Bauer, Sarah Paulson, David Strathairn, Lili Taylor

This is the historical biopic of the infamous pinup queen Bettie Page, concentrating on the 50′s with a few flashback scenes to her childhood.

The cast is headed by Gretchen Mol (a former “Hollywood’s next it girl” that showed her nipples on the cover of Vanity Fair) but also backed by the likes of David Strathairn, Sarah Paulson, Lili Taylor, and Chris Bauer in much smaller supporting roles.

The acting was good with the best obviously being that of Mol. None of the other actors had roles that I’d even consider large enough as secondary characters. But it is a biopic about Page, so of course the best scenes for an actor are going to go to Mol and she did a better job than I’ve ever seen her do.

The story was somewhat interesting, but I found it a little too limited in scope. I didn’t walk away with as much of a notion of how scandalous such things were back then. The case wasn’t presented very much more than in the first scene and a few recreated scenes of a senate hearing on juvenile delinquency. A bigger budget and 10-15 more minutes would probably have changed this part of the equation.

The directing was a different matter. The majority of the film was done in black and white. There are a number of scenes that weren’t though. According to the director in some DVD extras, going from b&w to color was to signify the respective change in location from NYC to Miami. That would have been fine except that there was also another scene in color that wasn’t in Miami.

Then there’s the cut scenes, or the kind of things second unit directors would do. Things like environmental shots for transitions and such from scene to scene. These were mostly actual footage from the 50′s. But despite shooting on older stock, the disparity between the movie footage and the actual 50′s footage is too large. It makes it seem like a piece a high school student would piece together.

Throughout the movie I found my mind wandering and my laptop magically turning on to look up historical facts. The point is that it wasn’t keeping my attention as much as I like a movie to do.

For that reason and the gripes with how the movie was put together, I can only justify giving “The Notorious Bettie Page” a 2 of 5 despite really liking the performance of Mol.