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THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE

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Part biography and part social study, Mary Harron's genial film casts its lens upon Bettie Page, the raven-haired pin-up beauty of the 1950s, who decades later was revived as a divine goddess of hipsters, retro-ists and feminists alike. Page, portrayed here with eerily resemblance by Gretchen Mol, is a sweet Tennessee girl, God-fearin' but with a nascent streak of modernity, who finds minor fame in the mid-1950s posing for cheesecake mags, "nature studies" and, by today's standards, laughably benign bondage shots. Harron posits that there was no place for a cheerfully naked gal in the 1950s, a socially repressed and conflicted era that pushed women into fetishistic bullet bras even as it denied their sexuality. But Bettie is no screed about wearisome oppression and sexual exploitation; rather it's a valentine to a woman who apparently melded good-natured sexuality with religious conviction and a forthright sense of self ... a feat no less difficult half a century later. The 7:30 p.m. Mon., May 8, screening will be followed by a discussion led by Jill Dione, a doctoral candidate at Pitt whose focus is 1950s femininity. (AH)

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