Bettie Page-3-300
Courtesy of Music Box Films

Mark Mori has created a film that, at one time, would have been deemed impossible: a thorough, even-handed chronicle of the pin-up queen’s life narrated by Bettie Page herself. Given her reclusive nature and mental health problems, not to mention her disappearance from public view for several decades, this is no small achievement. But it isn’t just the effort that should be applauded: Bettie Page Reveals All is a breezy, informative, and entertaining portrait of an uninhibited woman who helped light the flame of the sexual revolution… although that was the farthest thing from her mind.

Mori and writer Doug Miller call on an impressive array of sources, including members of the amateur camera club who first set eyes on the knockout model in the 1940s, several prominent lovers, photographer Bunny Yeager, Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, and the late Paula Klaw of Movie Star News, who with her brother Irving took the most widely circulated photos and 16mm films of Bettie at the peak of her underground popularity in the 1950s. We also hear from Bettie’s latter-day champions, including Rocketeer artist Dave Stevens, Greg Theakston, publisher of the Betty Pages fanzine, pin-up artist supreme Olivia, businessman Mark Roesler and Richard Bann, who helped Page when she needed it most.

Whether you’re already a fan or new to the Bettie Page phenomenon, this film serves as a complete guide to the rocky life and times of a woman who enjoyed her sexuality at a time when that was frowned upon and actively suppressed. Mori and Miller try not to dwell on the negative in telling her story, yet their film stops short of hagiography. Hearing Page’s friendly voice on the soundtrack is especially appealing.

Bettie Page Reveals All, which opened last week in Manhattan, begins a one-week run at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles today and will expand throughout the country.