Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on March 9th, 2006
As one of the discs in this set is exactly the same as the previous release, my review is the same too:
This is an episodic biopic about Bettie Page, moving from her glory days as a model for the pin-up photographer Bunny Yeager and fetish actress for Irving Klaw, maker of B&D shorts. All is well until a Senate investigation into obscenity, and Bettie herself pines for more mainstream, respectable roles. A fair bit of running time consists of B&W recreations of lost Klaw films, wit… Paige Richards doing a credible re-creation of Bettie’s look.
This is the very textbook definition of “labour of love,” and the film squeezes a fair bit of mileage out of its $50,000 budget. The limitations are also apparent, naturally, primarily at the level of the performances. Ultimately, this is for the hardcore Bettie Page fan only, as the lengthy re-creations of the photo and film shoots will hold little interest for those not already converted.
The 2.0 track is rather better than the tiny budget would lead one to expect. There aren’t any surround effects to speak of, and music and dialogue never really co-exist, but the dialogue is clear, and the music is a real highlight — a deliciously sleazy jazz beat that fits the subject matter like a (PVC) glove and is given an excellent mix. The volume on the second disc is very low once we get to the actual photography sessions.
Again, the tiny budget must be taken into account. That said, the picture is much sharper and free of grain than I would have expected, though the edges sometimes shimmer. The grain that appears is usually deliberate, as in the B&W re-creations. The colours are surprisingly strong. The aspect ratio is fullscreen, which, from all available evidence, is the original format.
The most informative feature is the liner notes. The behind-the-scenes footage of some half-dozen scenes have no narration, and largely mean watching the laborious process of tying Paige Richards up. The music extras consist of shots of the score being recorded, the dream sequence with the original (but deleted) score, and footage of “The Legendary Clara Ward Singers” singing “Just As I Am.” There is also a still gallery and some trailers. The menu’s main screen is scored.
The second disc is, like everything else about this effort, specialized, but should be quite a treat for the target audience. Bunny Yeager, one of the great pin-up photographers, conducts an interview with Paige Richards (who comes across as very sweet and unaffected), and we then get about an hour of watching Richards pose nude for Yeager’s camera in different locations, while Yeager directs her. This is all fine, but an interview with Yeager herself (who remains off-camera throughout) would have been even better. Also on this disc are two photo galleries of Yeager’s work: one of Bettie Page in 1954, one of Richards 50 years later. There is one outtake of Richards in a French maid get-up, and “A Date with Paige” is a bit more of an interview.
This is a heartfelt, loving tribute, that I feel confident will find its proper home with its target audience. The second disc of this release will only help in this regard.
Special Features List
- “How to Pose Nude by Bunny Yeager” Documentary
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage
- Original Music Recordings
- Photo Galleries
- Paige Richards Interview