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With: Bettie Page
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Irving Klaw, etc.
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 255
Date: 03/18/2013
IMDB

The Bettie Page Collection (2005)

3 Stars (out of 4)

A Page from History

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though she was never a movie star, Bettie Page's image is today a familiar sight. Curvy, voluptuous, with raven black hair shorn off evenly just above her eyebrows, she often sported one of two looks: a sly little grin that suggested she was having a great time and that you could too, or a wounded little pout that made you want to put your arms around her.

Hundreds of girls posed for pin-up pictures in the 1950s, but Page's image alone has sparked the imagination of generations of men (and women) because of this secret, powerful presence.

As part of her pin-up queen duties, Page also shot a series of cheap films. They're nothing like the fancy motion pictures Marilyn Monroe or Betty Grable made. These were silly little short films showcasing a specific dance or a little skit. As far as I can tell, every film Page ever made is available in this new three-disc box set from Cult Epics, The Bettie Page Collection.

The first disc, "Pin-Up Queen," highlights the carefree Bettie, who went by the stage name "Bettie" but was actually named "Betty." It includes a handful of black-and-white "loops," directed by Irving Klaw, of various "sexy" dances, plus full-color footage from Page's three feature films, Striporama, Teaserama and Varietease. These preposterous films were meant to replicate a variety strip show, boasting several girls doing little routines, plus really bad comedians to round out the action. The disc thankfully cuts out the rest of the forgettable material and includes only Page's bits.

The second disc, "Bondage Queen," is for darker tastes, and Page doesn't come into the picture until about halfway through. These are all black-and-white "loops" featuring bondage, spanking and catfights, all of them pretty tame. Though both discs are for adults only, neither features much in the way of nudity.

Each of these discs comes with a "written commentary track" by Page, talking about that period in her life. Each includes a small photo gallery, and the "Pin-Up" disc comes with a list of the 100 top glamour girls of the century (though a technical glitch eliminates a whole page, #40-60).

The third disc is a bonus documentary about Page's most frequent photographer, the pin-up girl-turned-shutterbug Bunny Yeager. In 100 Girls by Bunny Yeager, Ms. Yeager very simply goes through her 100 favorite subjects, one by one. She shows off some of her gorgeous photos (both swimsuit and nude), and tells a little something about each girl. Page is, of course, one of the 100 girls.

The best disc in the set, 100 Girls by Bunny Yeager, not only gives us a variety of faces, but helps us appreciate Yeager's unerring eye for beauty. The disc even offers a chance to skim directly to the girl of your choice.

Die-hard Page fans may want to own this set, but I prefer her photographs to her films. The films look horrendously rinky-dink, and no one has ever bothered to re-master them. (These discs were undoubtedly taken straight from the video source materials released in the 1980s.) Ultimately they're more silly than sexy.

DVD Details: Cult Epics has re-released the Page loops in a new, 2006 box set, The Irving Klaw Classics consisting of four discs (in new thin cases): "The Bettie Page Films," The Wrestling Films," "The Fetish Films" and "The Dance Films." The old box set is still avaialble.

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