Archive of films Notorious Bettie Page / The Notorious Bettie Page

2005, 91 min

Section: Another View
Year: 2006

In this portrait of one of the first sex icons, black-and-white film evokes 1950s USA, while the acting style and kitschy cheap-print tinted scenes are consciously employed to project a melodramatic conception of Bettie’s fate. Gretchen Mol (Bettie) is well known for example from her role in Allen’s Celebrity.


Bettie Page grew up in Tennessee in the 1930s and 1940s, in an atmosphere of conservatism and strong religious sentiment. Suddenly the narrative switches from Sunday sermons to New York of the 1950s, where through a series of accidents Bettie embarks on a career as a pin-up girl. She poses for various photographers and gets work in numerous obscure studios, carefully concealed since any expressions of immorality were the targets of merciless puritanical campaigns at the time. Harron presents Bettie as a beautiful and chaste naive country girl, who longs for a career as a star and is incapable of understanding the way she is being abused. More than just a biographical treatment, the film offers a thoughtful treatment of a life lived without critical insight. It is appealing for its retro atmosphere, melodramatic stylisation and the performances of the brilliant Gretchen Mol as Bettie and Lili Taylor as the photographer.

About the director

Mary Harron

Mary Harron (b. 1956, Canada) screenwriter, producer, and independent director. She started out as a journalist, writing theatre reviews for The Observer, following television and rock music for The New Statesman and reviewing music for The Guardian and Melody Maker. There she also published articles on Andy Warhol, the subject of the film I Shot Andy Warhol that she made in 1995, which won an award at the Sundance Festival. It was her feature film debut, after years in which she had made documentaries for British TV, including a series of short films on the arts for the BBC, the Winds of Change for Channel Four, and a sixty-minute documentary on conditions in South Africa in the 1950s. Her second feature film, the thriller American Psycho, based on B. E. Ellis’s best-selling novel, won her a nomination for the title “Director of the Year” in London.


HBO Enterprises
1100 Ave.of the Americas, NY 10036, New York
United States of America
Tel: +1 212 512 5673
Fax: +1 212 512 5698
E-mail: [email protected]

HBO Europe
Jankovcova 1037/49, 170 00, Praha 7
Czech Republic
Tel: +420 261 094 444
Fax: +420 261 094 455
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Another View
Director: Mary Harron
Screenplay: Mary Harron, Guinevere Turner
Dir. of Photography: Mott Hupfel
Music: Mark Suozzo
Editor: Tricia Cooke
Producer: Pamela Koffler, Katie Roumel, Christine Vachon
Production: HBO Films
Cast: Gretchen Mol, Chris Bauer, Lili Taylor, Jared Harris, Sarah Paulson
Contact: HBO Enterprises, HBO Europe
Distributor: HBO Europe


Blanka Kadlecová

Film Institution Rep.


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