MRR Review: "Bettie Page Reveals All"

Photo Credit: Music Box Films

MRR Review: "Bettie Page Reveals All"

Rating: R (Sexual content, graphic nudity)
Length: 101 minutes
Release Date: September 8, 2012
Directed by: Mark Mori
Genre: Documentary

"Bettie Page Reveals All" is a 2012 documentary that gives a riveting look into the life of America's biggest sex symbol. Bettie Page was a model, actress, pin-up girl, and all-around cultural icon of the 1950s and 1960s. She has been given credit for the launch of America's sexual revolution in the 1960s thanks to her brazen, unabashed style and overt sensuality. Although Page was always pushing the limits of her time, she is simultaneously regarded as an icon of class and sophistication.

Director Mark Mori takes the helm of this fascinating documentary, chronicling the life of Bettie Page from her birth to her rise to stardom and eventually her mysterious disappearance off the face of the earth. Few other Hollywood icons led lives surrounded by more mystery, intrigue, and scandal than Ms. Page. Decades later, her image is still the epitome of pin-up beauty and style. This documentary is filled with commentaries and never-before revealed secrets from Bettie's various friends and associates and even Bettie Page herself. The icon recounts her run-ins with law enforcement and government officials who were intent on keeping a lid on her overt freedom and artistic expression.

The documentary is filled with musical tributes to Page, including some favorites of the day. Music was an essential element of Bettie's burlesque performances, and she captured the imagination and fantasy of a nation by blending song and dance in a way that pushed the boundaries of what was culturally and morally acceptable at the time. It's no surprise that the budding young starlet faced considerable opposition before she made it to the top of the Hollywood pack. From fellow celebrities to police and politicians, Bettie had no shortage of adversaries in her quest for world domination. The silver-screen siren had more than her fair share of tricks up her sleeves, and the documentary recounts how she outsmarted and outclassed the competition every step of the way to become one of the most legendary pop culture icons of all time.

If there is one takeaway from "Bettie Page Reveals All," it is that star status may come and go, but cult status lasts long beyond the lifespan of a career. Like Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Page managed to capture the imagination of America's audiences in such a powerful way that she developed a cult following that is as strong today as ever. Modern Page impersonators and fans fill the documentary, showing off their modern tributes to Bettie's classic style. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film is hearing how Bettie herself relates to all the publicity her work has continued to generate over the years. While some celebrities mellow out with age, Bettie's role in the documentary makes it clear that she is as outrageous and candid as ever and that she wouldn't trade a moment of her youthful hijinks for the world.

The documentary is not all fun and games, however. The film delves deeply into Bettie's troubled childhood and helps shed some light on the events that led her to become so self-sufficient and bold at a time when women were socially conditioned to be demure and not seek attention. The documentary makes a clear case for the fact that Bettie Page not only took her place in American culture, but also changed it forever. Other celebrities share their takes on the starlet during her early days and give a glimpse into how the Hollywood elite viewed her at the time of her debut.

Celebrity documentaries often have a tendency to fall flat or set out unrealistic depictions of the people whose lives they portray. "Bettie Page Reveals All" avoids this crucial pitfall, creating a viewing experience that is every bit as enlightening as informative. Although the film chronicles the life of Bettie Page with undeniable affection and admiration, it doesn't pull any punches when it comes to her shortcomings. Most impressively, neither does Bettie Page herself. The icon is as candid about her own pitfalls and weaknesses as she is about those of others, and she doesn't shy away from giving audiences an honest look into the unsettling circumstances around her disappearance. Fans wondered for years what happened to the pin-up girl who suddenly vanished, and conspiracy theories ran rampant. For the first time, Page presents a complete picture of what truly happened around the time of her disappearance, making "Bettie Page Reveals All" the most comprehensive documentary of her life and career. Whether you are an avowed Page fan or simply enjoy learning more about American pop culture history, this documentary is an absolute must-see.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5