The fact that Bettie Page Reveals All is about the endlessly enthralling “Queen of Pinups” would be enough to make it a riveting watch. But having the subject herself narrating her only authorized documentary makes the production even more compelling. In interviews conducted throughout the last decade of her life (she died in 2008 at 85), Page candidly tells her gripping story from childhood to old age. The film squeezes in tons of details about the life and legacy of this free spirit and unwitting trailblazer, including her history as a survivor (of poverty, abuse, sexual assault, and more), her accidental role in sparking the sexual revolution, her numerous romances (hearing the elderly Page say she and a paramour “made mad love” is priceless), her disappearance into obscurity, her diagnosis with schizophrenia and 10 years in a mental hospital, and ultimately, her redemption.
She refused to be shown on camera, preferring to be remembered as she was in her heyday, so director Mark Mori was tasked with never showing the reclusive star as she narrates. But he more than met the challenge with cool vintage shots of N.Y.C. and other relevant locations and characters, including more than 1,000 glorious photos and rare video footage of Page. Providing supporting details and heaps of adoring praise are former husbands and lovers, fans, photographers, celebrities like Dita Von Teese, artist Dave Stevens (whose Page-based character in The Rocketeer comic books and movie are credited with her renewed fame), and even Hugh Hefner (Page was “Miss January” 1955), who helped her get royalties for the widespread use of her image.
Page’s most striking feature, aside from her obvious beauty, is her humility: she truly doesn’t get why people think she’s so great. But you will after watching this riveting film. [Tori Rodriguez]
Emily Rems is a feminist writer, editor, rock star, playwright, and occasional plus-size model living in New York’s East Village. Best known as managing editor of BUST magazine, Emily is also a music and film commentator for New York’s NPR affiliate WNYC, and is the drummer for the horror-punk band the Grasshoppers. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in the anthologies Cassette from my Ex and Zinester’s Guide to NYC, and her short stories have been published in Rum Punch Press, Lumen, Prose ‘N Cons Mystery Magazine, Writing Raw, and PoemMemoirStory. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for fiction in 2015 and is working on a novel. Follow her on Twitter @emilyrems.