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Bettie Page: Dark Angel (2004).

September 29, 2009

The Scoop:
Along with Marilyn, Elvis and James Dean, Bettie Page was one of the quintessential 1950s icons. She may not have gotten the acclaim during her own time that those others did, but that’s only because she was the epitome of sexuality in that era — a sexuality that the nation’s moral guardians tried so hard to keep under wraps. But her fans wouldn’t be deterred and for years after her abrupt retirement from modeling, they kept her legacy alive with pinup shots and film shorts hidden in dresser drawers and under mattresses until the world was ready for her re-emergence in the 1990s.

“Bettie Page: Dark Angel” is ostensibly a biopic, but only in the loosest sense. Produced by Cult Epics — the current distributor of most of her film loops — the movie is built around faithful recreations of some of Bettie’s most infamous “lost” shorts. Interspersed with the recreations are scenes from her life during that period, with the focus squarely on her bondage work with Irving Klaw, although there is brief lip service paid to her shoots with Bunny Yeager. But these scenes have all the awkward writing, stilted acting and cardboard quality production values that you’ve come to expect from the non-sex scenes of your favorite old pornos.

So the results are uneven, to say the least. But luckily, you’re probably not watching this movie for the dramatic scenes.

The recreations are campy fun and star Paige Richards not only is a dead ringer for Bettie, but also brings along her years of experience in softcore porn to really sell it. She doesn’t have the same presence as Bettie, but no one could. She comes close, though, which goes a long way toward making this cheapo production watchable.

Best Bit:
The kindergarten quality recreation of the Kefauver hearings.

Side Note:
The theme song is by Chris Stein of Blondie. He was signed to do the whole score, but then backed out. The swinging burlesque score used in the film is by Danny B. Harvey and Zack Ryan.

Companion Viewing:
“The Notorious Bettie Page” (2005).

Official site.

Take a Look:
The trailer:

A montage:

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