The Notorious Bettie Page (2005)

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Released 7-Feb-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Docudrama Short Film-Presenting Bettie Page
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 86:58
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (47:24) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mary Harron
Studio
Distributor

Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Gretchen Mol
Chris Bauer
Jared Harris
Sarah Paulson
Cara Seymour
David Strathairn
Lili Taylor
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Mark Suozzo


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Bettie Page (Gretchen Mol) was a notorious pin-up girl in the 1950s. One of the first sex icons in America's history, unusually Bettie's notoriety stemmed from what she wore rather than what she didn't wear. Although she did start out posing for "naturist" photos, Bettie's most notable photographs were sold under the counter to fetishists. She was the centre of a Senate enquiry into her bondage photos, taken by Irvin and Pauline Klaw (Chris Bauer and Lili Taylor).

    The Notorious Bettie Page skims over the life of Bettie Page from her late teen years and early marriage, over her pin-up career, through to the point she dedicated her life to her faith at the end of her career. Most of the film is spent re-enacting famous photo and film shoots. Many of the details are lost by the brisk pace of the movie and Gretchen Mol, whose performance is spot on, is robbed of the chance to really flesh out her character.

    The film has a very artistic look about it. The bulk of the movie is presented in black-and-white (albeit a slightly artificial looking black-and-white), while key scenes are presented in colour to suit the era (soft colours, soft focus, greenish blues). The cinematography does an excellent job of capturing the mood of the film and goes a long way toward making up for the underwritten script.

     It is hard to believe that The Notorious Bettie Page comes from the same writing and directing team that created American Psycho. Not so much because of the difference in subject matter, or the different tack taken in presenting the subject matter, but because this film seems so amateurish by comparison. The script never gets deep enough into the interesting parts of Bettie's life – indeed, it skims right past many major events in her past, and the direction seems competent but lazy.

    The Notorious Bettie Page is an entertaining but disappointingly shallow biopic.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio (close enough to its original 1.85:1 ratio) and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The video looks very good. The image is razor sharp, save for a few scenes that have been given a deliberate soft focus. There is an excellent level of shadow detail, especially in the black and white scenes of the movie. A very mild level of grain is visible in throughout the film, but it is never distracting.

    The film if predominantly black-and-white, which looks a tad artificial but is even throughout (in fact, the film's consistent lighting levels and even colour is probably one of the things that makes the black-and-white seem artificial). Scenes that employ colour do so very artistically, using colour balances that reflect the look of film stock of a bygone era, with lots of soft colours and greenish blues to mimic the old Fujifilm flavour.

    The filmmkers employed a few video effects to give an aged look to certain scenes (deliberate film artefacts, grain, colour bleed and fade), but no obviously unintentional artefacts are visible.

    There are no subtitles on this disc.

    This is a RSDL disc. The layer break occurs at 47:26 but was not noticeable on my equipment.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    A single English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (224 Kbps) audio track is present for the film. The track sounds very flat and has a mild echo in many scenes, indicating that the stereo track was probably collapsed from a surround track (indeed, the Region 1 edition features a Dolby Digital 5.1 track).

    The film's dialogue is reasonably clear and easy to understand. There are no significant issues with sync, although the ADR looping is obvious in a few scenes.

    The film features a great score, comprised of toned-down period jazz, much like what you would expect of a burlesque show in the early 1950s.

    There is no noticeable surround speaker or subwoofer usage in the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Presenting Bettie Page Short Film (2:47)

    A short striptease and pose from by the real Bettie Page, transferred from an original Super 8 short. As well as being a titillating short, this really does drive home how well Gretchen Mol managed to capture Page's mannerisms.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 edition of The Notorious Bettie Page features the same short film contained as an extra on the Region 4 edition, as well as:

    The clear winner is the Region 1 edition.

Summary

    The Notorious Bettie Page is a bit of a missed opportunity. Whilst it is reasonably entertaining viewing, this movie barely scratches the surface of its subject.

    The video looks very good. The audio is rather lacklustre and presented in collapsed stereo.

    The lone extra is a goodie, but this Region 4 edition misses out on quite a bit from foreign editions.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Monday, March 10, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

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