Director Mark Mori pays earnest tribute to an icon in the new documentary, "Bettie Page Reveals All," screening this weekend at the Dryden Theatre. Page was a hugely popular pin-up model in the late 40's and early 50's; what made her unique (besides her considerable beauty) was the way she made her sexuality seem utterly wholesome. To tell Page's life story, Mori utilizes archival photos and video, along with extensive talking-head interviews with everyone from Hugh Hefner to burlesque artist Dita Von Teese. But the film's major selling point is narration from Page herself, created using audio from interviews conducted shortly before her death in 2008. Page makes for a compelling and candid storyteller. Although the film is frequently amateurish from a technical standpoint, it is never better than when Page is allowed to speak for herself.
With a charming Nashville drawl, Page tells her story and explains why she chose to leave modeling behind right at the peak of her career. Sadly, the picture she paints of her life post-modeling is rather bleak, including a lengthy battle with mental illness. But things turned around when her photos experienced a resurgence in popularity in the early 1980's, as the public rediscovered her, recognizing the role she played in ushering in the sexual revolution and leading to the immense following she has today.