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, with 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.
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. There is also a still gallery and some trailers. The menu’s main screen is scored.
This is a heartfelt, loving tribute, that I feel confident will find its proper home with its target audience.
Special Features List
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage
- Photo Gallery
- Liner Notes