Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 14 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: A provocative exploration of sexuality, religion and pop culture, The Notorious Bettie Page takes us into the 1950s and the fascinating world of famous pin-up girl, Bettie Page. (Picturehouse)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 38
  2. Negative: 0 out of 38
  1. 88
    Gretchen Mol is finally the key to the mysterious appeal of the film, to its sweetness and sadness.
  2. 75
    The film takes a little time to explore the political landscape of the time, and features an Oscar-worthy lead performance.
  3. 75
    Harron needed just the right actress to play Bettie. And she lucked out big time. Gretchen Mol (The Shape of Things) is hot stuff in every sense of the term. She delivers the first performance by an actress this year that deserves serious Oscar consideration.
  4. 67
    It's less cheesecake than angel-food: frothy, light, and delicious, sure, but two hours later you're ready for something slightly more substantive.
  5. In the odd, and oddly compelling, biopic The Notorious Bettie Page, Gretchen Mol is a delight as the saucy brunette.
  6. Anyone expecting another dark satiric film in the same vein of Harron's earlier movies will be disappointed. Perhaps as befits a bondage-themed picture, The Notorious Bettie Page is very restrained, even a little starchy.
  7. In spite of the film's surface allure -- no, not the leather, the period evocation -- and a fine performance by Gretchen Mol in the title role, Bettie is in bondage to a shallow, black-and-white script.

See all 38 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 7
  2. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. DaveM.
    Aug 31, 2006
    The tone of the movie is flawless. Fun to watch. It makes you wish that life could be that simple.
  2. ChristopherJ.
    Jun 19, 2006
    Gretchen Mol proves here that she is, or soon will be, a superstar.
  3. ChadShiira
    Oct 22, 2006
    Bettie Page (Gretchen Mol) was every man's fantasy, and that's where the filmmaker keeps her, on the pages of a magazine and in scratchy 8mm film. We never see her having sex with anybody. That's a very nice touch, and "The Notorious Bettie Page" is a very nice film. No movie since Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire" uses both black and white and color photography so judiciously. Black and white does New York justice, as color does the same for a Miami holiday. "The Notorious Bettie Page" is essentially a film about pornography, albeit the period this film captures is an industry still in its infancy, still largely underground. In a bravura sequence, a home movie of the "pornographers" and their models begins innocently enough with fun and games(badminton and croquet); then out comes the rope, and a woman is tied to a tree(more fun and games; bondage), as Peggy Lee sings about "a good day" over the soundtrack. It's interesting to juxtapose this moment with the testimony of a man, later in the film, who blames Bettie's people(the Klaws, Chris Bauer and Lili Taylor) for the unexpected termination of a life. Did Bettie really sin? Is pornography, or even the existence of the female form, harmful? The latter, a question as old as Christianity itself when pertaining to "art". After her career, the pin-up queen is saved, but "you gotta sin to be saved". Bettie professes guilt over career in "modeling", band yet at the moment of their creation, she doesn't look at all guilty, in neither the nude nor the bondage sessions. I can't tell if this aspect of the filmmaker's storytelling is a little muddled, or that the intent is to keep Page on the enigmatic side, with fond remembrance. Mol is awesome. Expand
  4. HalB.
    May 5, 2007
    An unexpected delight. A quirky little black & white film that transports us back into the 30s, 40s and 50s. This is essentially a character study of one of the more fascinating individuals to come out of the 20th century, and it serves as an indictment of our still-repressed culture. Mol's performance is not to be missed. Can you say "Wow!"? Expand
  5. BillS.
    May 22, 2006
    This is from HBO films and I would venture to say that it was released theatrically because it just doesn't meet the usual high quality of a HBO pay-tv movie! Every character is under written and the lead role has no substance and no where to go with it. I recommend waiting till it airs on HBO later this year. Expand
  6. Feb 9, 2012
    The Notorious Bettie Page, a biopic of the infamous pin-up icon, is a mildly entertaining romp through Page's early life and modelling career. Gretchen Mol is spot-on as Page, she looks the part and perfectly captures her iconic poses. Jared Harris is also good as seedy British photographer John Willie, as is David Strathairn as Estes Kefauver as a senator investigating the negative impact of pornography on the American people. I also like the stylistic decision to film partially in black-and-white and partially in garish technicolor - it works really well in terms of setting the tone of particular scenes, with Page's formative years and earlier modelling experiences presented with a nostalgic, classic Hollywood appearance, and her celebrity lifestyle in Miami and her most iconic magazine covers presented as garish, striking splashes of colour. Unfortunately, the film does not seem to say an awful lot about anything, beyond a meagre attempt to discuss the morality of nude photography and censorship. A lot of the film, in fact, seems to simply be providing something to fill the space between the softcore thrills. I also feel that the story comes to an end just when it starts to get really interesting. I would love to see a film adaptation of Page's later life, a far darker and more complex period that would offer genuine scope for real drama. That's the main disappointment about The Notorious Bettie Page, for a story of such a controversial figure, the film comes across as a little tame. Director Mary Harron and her co-writer Guinevere Turner could have been so much braver and really gotten behind Bettie Page's motivations, and her seemingly contradictory moral code. As it is, the film is pleasant, but a little limp and uninspiring. I don't begrudge watching such a competent film, but I never felt I got to understand Bettie Page, so as a biopic, it ultimately fails. Expand
  7. MarcusG.
    May 22, 2006
    Boring, superificial, and disappointingly lacking.