The Notorious Bettie Page

  • 18
  • Mary Harron (2005)
  • US
  • 90 min
The Notorious Bettie Page
Film Review
Reviewed By
3 out of 5

Iconic 1950s pin-up Bettie Page comes under the spotlight in this breezy biopic from writer/director Mary Harron (American Psycho). Gretchen Mol gives a deliciously radiant performance as the God-fearing Nashville girl whose New York modelling career evolves from saucy shots in men's magazines to short films and pictures for the fetish trade. But her burgeoning career is curtailed by the 1955 crusade against pornography of US politician Estes Kefauver (David Strathairn). Mol's wholesome Page is just one of a host of frothy characters - from comically profane British photographer John Willie (Jared Harris) to brother and sister bondage specialists Irving and Paula Klaw (Chris Bauer and Lili Taylor) - who give this predominantly black-and-white picture its considerable charm. But, unlike Harron's 1995 Valerie Solanas exposé I Shot Andy Warhol, here it's visual superficialities rather than perceptive insights that drive the flimsy narrative. The result is an enjoyably nostalgic slice of ocular titillation that barely scratches beneath the surface of its glamorous subject.

Plot Summary

Biopic of the iconic 1950s pin-up, starring Gretchen Mol. God-fearing Nashville girl Bettie Page swaps her conservative home for the bright lights of New York, hoping to find fame as an actress. Instead, she makes it big in a saucily different way, becoming one of the most iconic fetish models ever.

Cast and crew


Bettie Page
Gretchen Mol
Irving Klaw
Chris Bauer
John Willie
Jared Harris
Bunny Yeager
Sarah Paulson
Cara Seymour
Estes Kefauver
David Strathairn
Paula Klaw
Lili Taylor
Jonathan M Woodward
Austin Pendleton
Billy Neal
Norman Reedus


Mary Harron

Other Information

Black and White and Colour
Theatrical distributor: 
Sexual violence, swearing and nudity.
Available on DVD
Released 4 Aug 2006
Certificate 18