courtesy photoThe documentary “Bettie Page Reveals All” is a fresh

courtesy photoThe documentary “Bettie Page Reveals All” is a fresh

Pinups and downs in ‘Bettie Page Reveals All’

Bettie Page may not actually reveal all in Mark Mori’s new documentary, “Bettie Page Reveals All,” but she reveals enough.

Even though Gretchen Mol gave a brave performance in the 2005 film “The Notorious Bettie Page,” this documentary is the better choice, mostly because it has a generous helping of actual Page photos and movie clips, presented at a pace at which they really can be savored.

What the legendary model does not reveal are photos or footage taken of her after her pinup career ended in 1957, thereby preserving her allure.

However, director Mori was able to use an interview with Page recorded before her death in 2008. That voice, older, deeper and with a southern twang, provides the film’s candid narration.

Except for “The Notorious Bettie Page” — which Page saw and reportedly hated — her story has been mysterious and largely unknown. “Bettie Page Reveals All” tells it simply.

She was born to a mother who only wanted sons, and to a father that molested his children. Page married young, and quickly realized it was a mistake. She began modeling, and soon adopted her trademark bangs (she had a high forehead).

She worked with many photographers, notably Irving Klaw and Bunny Yeager, posing both in bathing suits and nude. Her photos were best-sellers in their own day. They eventually led to loops, or short, tame bondage films. After her modeling days, Page had a series of relationships, some passionate and loving for a short while, but none lasted. She had some psychological troubles. She eventually turned to religion and disappeared.

Years later, comic artist Dave Stevens (“The Rocketeer”) and Playboy magazine creator Hugh Hefner helped her get royalties from the Page merchandise that was still selling like hotcakes throughout the world.

Talking heads — including Hefner, Yeager, Rebecca Romijn, Paula Klaw (Irving’s sister), fanzine editor Greg Theakston and photographer Sam Menning — try to unravel the mystery of why Page was so amazing when so many other models were just pretty.

Essentially, Page was unashamed of her body and her sexuality during a time when such attitudes were rare. She loved her work, and that joy came across. Her honest beauty and her comfort combined turned into an appealing, erotic image: a combination of naughty and nice.

With the release of “Bettie Page Reveals All,” she becomes more of a real person. Her image remains unscathed, but richer and more potent.

REVIEW

Bettie Page Reveals All

Starring Bettie Page, Hugh Hefner, Rebecca Romijn, Paula Klaw, Bunny Yeager, Dita Von Teese

Directed by Mark Mori

Rated R

Running time 1 hour, 41 minutesartsBettie Page Reveals AllIrving KlawMark MoriMovies

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A cyclist heads past an artistic sign onto Page Street, a Slow Street, at Stanyan Street near Golden Gate Park on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Push to make street closures permanent meets with resistance

Hastily thrown together during the pandemic, Slow Streets program now struggles to build support

Agnes Liang, who will be a senior at Mission High School, is running for one of the two student representative seats on the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Turbulent year on school board leaves student delegates undeterred

Around this time last year, Shavonne Hines-Foster and Kathya Correa Almanza were… Continue reading

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Three people killed in SF shootings in less than 24 hours

San Francisco police were scrambling Saturday to respond to a series of… Continue reading

Muni operator Angel Carvajal drives the popular boat tram following a news conference celebrating the return of the historic F-line and subway service on Friday, May 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Mayor, transit officials celebrate return of Muni service

Mayor London Breed and city transit officials gathered Friday to welcome the… Continue reading

San Francisco police investigated the scene of a police shooting near Varney Place and Third Street on May 7. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFPD shooting may prompt new body camera rules for plainclothes cops

Police chief says incident ‘should not have happened’

Most Read