The big problem with pinup queen Bettie Page — maybe the only problem — is that her image inspires easy bromides about how she made sex seem fun and playful, and how she’s a great role model for modern women who want to feel comfortable with their sexuality. It’s not that those observations are wrong. It’s that they reduce Page to a Post-itÐsized affirmation for our own causes. Mark Mori’s Bettie Page Reveals All celebrates Page’s verve and beauty while placing it squarely in its social and historical context. Much of the movie consists of footage and stills from Page’s life and career, and looking at Page for some 90 minutes is a pleasure unto itself. But her actual voice gives the movie its richness. Mori has constructed the doc around a series of audio-only interviews he conducted with Page in the 1990s. Page, as she tells it, was born into an impoverished Tennessee family — her mother didn’t want her; her father sexually abused her. But what you don’t hear in Page’s voice is self-pity. Eventually, she hit New York and appeared in photos, films, and in magazines like Wink, Titter, Flirt and Beauty Parade. Page became famous for her saucy, athletic curves, her wardrobe of flirty bikinis (most of which she designed and sewed herself), and her blunt shortie bangs. In one of the movie’s most delightful interludes, she tells the story of that ’do, explaining that an amateur photographer suggested they might look good on her. “So I went home and cut me some, and I’ve been wearing them ever since!” she cackles. Youth may leave us, but bangs endure.
Mark MoriBettie Page, Dita Von Teese, Hugh M. Hefner, Rebecca Romijn, Tempest Storm, Bunny Yeager, Perez Hilton, Mamie Van Doren, Naomi Campbell, Paula KlawMark Mori, Doug MillerMark MoriMusic Box Films