‘Bettie Page Reveals All’ technically doesn’t reveal it all

"Bettie Page Reveals All" features the pioneering pinup telling her own story. Credit: Music Box Films
“Bettie Page Reveals All” features the pioneering pinup telling her own story.
Credit: Music Box Films

‘Bettie Page Reveals All’
Director: Mark Mori
Genre: Documentary
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

The documentary “Bettie Page Reveals All” — let that double entendre sink in a bit — has an ace up its sleeve, namely the actual 85-year-old Page giving her own account of her life before her death in 2008. It’s a biggie: The pioneering pin-up, who was so photogenic it’s impossible to find a bum picture of her, found God at the height of her celebrity and removed herself from the spotlight. The makers of “Reveals” were lucky to preserve her last testament on film — or audio, rather, as she understandably didn’t want the world to see her decrepit self, destroying the public image of her as a chipper, rarely clothed babe. (Though that does technically make the title a lie.)

If records set straight is all you require, then “Reveals” gets the job done. If you seek something that isn’t drab, sloppy and cheap, plus boasting a persistent score that sounds like a Casio keyboard stuck on its generic ‘50s lounge music setting, you might be a tad let down. Not that Page’s first “authorized” biographical documentary needed to be slick, but the plain production doesn’t befit a legend belatedly — in fact, posthumously — getting her chance to be heard.

Not that it isn’t interesting, of course. Page (not very clearly recorded, it must be noted) is amusingly matter-of-fact about her life as a nudie queen, even when she was coerced into more naughty gigs. As one commentator notes, she’s one of the few bondage models who doesn’t look depressed: She strikes a fake-surprise pose, appearing every bit as game as she does when she’s merely in her birthday suit.

Late in, the film takes on the “unauthorized” Page movie, 2005’s “The Notorious Bettie Page.” Page herself is said to have shouted “LIES!” at a screening. But this just brings up the question of what makes better art. “Notorious” may have fibbed, but it had a brilliant performance from Gretchen Mol and fervently avoided period cliches. It captured her essence, if not the specific truth.

“Reveals” has her voice but not her essence. It has her photos, a carousel of them flashing across the screen as she regales us with her story. (Often she’s usurped by others, including Hugh Hefner, who reminds us that, yes, the ‘50s were puritanical times.) But when it doesn’t have Page nudes to fill the frame, it turns to generic ‘50s footage (clean kids at the drive-in, clean kids at dances, etc.) It’s useful as a point of reference but lousy as a movie. It would, however, have made a beautiful coffee table book.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…


Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.


African couple claiming misidentification in robbery case to…

At a bail hearing today for Vickson and Lorfu Korlewala, charged in the robbery of an 80-year-old woman, bail was reduced from $1 million total to $500,000.


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.


Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…


Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.


Rangers draw first blood against Flyers in Game…

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals 47 seconds apart to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win.


Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.


Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.


Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.


Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.


Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.