Described by critic J Hoberman as looking like a 1940s film star dressed as a Little Rascal, the delightful Guinevere Turner made her acting, screenwriting and producing debut with Rose Troche's indie...
As the real-life 1950's pin-up girl Bettie Page actress Gretchen Mol shakes her moneymaker in this true-American-story drama. Page a Tennessee-raised religious cutie moves to New York in 1949 for a new life when college dreams don't materialize. She's a trusting soul who loves to pose for strangers' cameras and naturally falls into modeling. In no time she's wearing suggestive lingerie and trading spankings with other models. To Bettie the bondage get-ups are silly not prurient. But despite efforts to expand herself and learn acting she remains a pin-up girl. In Bettie's most famous picture she's posing nude in a Santa hat in a 1955 Playboy magazine. After testifying at Congress amid the sexual Puritanism of the '50s Bettie realizes her "notorious" reputation. She quits the biz for her religious beliefs and disappears from the public eye for good. Mol's performance is described in press materials as "incandescent." It is brave to say the least. The actress’ movie career has needed a jolt since she was labeled the next “It” girl in the late ‘90s after starring with Matt Damon in the 1998 Rounders. Her last film was Neil LaBute’s 2003 The Shape of Things. But Mol finds her niche in Notorious. She plays Bettie as she was--a simple-minded and free-spirited character which can be a dangerous combination. The actress doesn't add impresario nuances to the pliable young woman beyond the Southern accents but it is an incandescent performance nonetheless. Lili Taylor (I Shot Andy Warhol) brings her rough features to Paula Klaw Bettie's tough-minded manager transitioning from the Emmy-nominated success of HBO’s Six Feet Under. Mol and Taylor play off each other very well. Recent Oscar-nominee David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck) also sneaks in there as a Southern senator calling for pornography investigations. In the hands of director/writer Mary Harron and writer Guinevere Turner Notorious snaps along like an old crime noir quick like a paperback on the beach. It is ironic and biting smoldering with sexuality but the melodramatic intentions are obvious. The dialogue lapses into clunky spots occasionally but they seem deliberate. The script's potency should not be understated. It's a statement about government's role in bedroom matters and the side effects of an American society prudish about its sexuality. Harron seems a sharp-edged journalist a chronicler of 20th century America and recruited Oscar-nominated researcher Sam Green (The Weather Undergound) to strengthen the movie's veracity such as recreating '50s-era Times Square. Bygone technical methods such as Super 8 cameras are used to match the classy black-and-white photography. Notorious is a little rough but fairly successful in its mission.
With director Mary Harron, co-wrote the screenplay, "The Notorious Bettie Page" (HBO)
Wrote and directed the short, "Spare Me"
Appeared in and directed episodes of Showtime's "The L Word"
Starred in the independent film "Stray Dogs"
Starred as American dominatrix Tonya Cheex disciplining unruly Londoners in "Preaching to the Perverted"
Screenwriting, acting and producing debut, "Go Fish"; premiered at the Sundance Film Festival
wrote, directed and co-starred in the short, "Hummer"
Appeared in Cheryl Dunye's "The Watermelon Woman" as Dunye's lesbian lover
Grew up traveling the country as part of a religious cult; when family eventually left the cult, resumed normal schooling
Made cameo appearance as a bus station attendant in Smith's "Dogma"
Portrayed character identified as indignant lesbian in Tony Vitale's "Kiss Me, Guido"
With director Mary Harron, co-wrote screenplay of "American Psycho", based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis; had a small role in film; premiered at the Sundance Film Festival
Had small role as a singer in Kevin Smith's "Chasing Amy"
Settled in Chicago where she met Rose Troche, director and co-screenwriter of "Go Fish"
First collaboration with Mary Harron, co-wrote script for a biopic of 1950s pin-up model Bettie Page; HBO at one time planned to fund with Turner in lead role; still in development as of January 2000
Acted in Scott King's "Treasure Island"; premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival
Described by critic J Hoberman as looking like a 1940s film star dressed as a Little Rascal, the delightful Guinevere Turner made her acting, screenwriting and producing debut with Rose Troche's indie "Go Fish" (1994). Centering on Chicago's Wicker Park lesbian community, "Go Fish" marked an expansion within the "New Queer Cinema" movement to girl-oriented themes. Turner starred as the confident if lovelorn Max, a hip, verbally attuned "Generation X" lesbian who ends up in the arms of a gay veterinarian, and her script, stronger in its ripe, knowing ripostes then in its simple yet meandering girl-meets-girl plot, revealed urban lesbian life in an almost documentary fashion. Initially shot on weekends in 1991 and 1992, the project ground to a halt when funds ran out, but a call to Christine Vachon helped secure completion money from Islet. Vachon and Tom Kalin were stabilizing influences as executive producers, and the no-budget, black-and-white feature, which was the first film at that year's Sundance Film Festival to land a distributor, found a crossover audience in limited release.<p>Turner next played Cheryl Dunye's lover in Dunye's "The Watermelon Woman" (1996), a quasi-documentary look into black lesbian culture which utilized still photos and film recreations to create the fictional character of a black lesbian screen actress from the 30s and 40s. She acted in "Kiss Me, Guido" (as an "indignant lesbian"), "Chasing Amy" (as a singer) and "Latin Boys Go to Hell" before starring as an American dominatrix abroad in Stuart Urban's "Preaching to the Perverted" (all 1997), which she followed with roles in Scott King's "Treasure Island" (premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival) and Kevin Smith's "Dogma" (1999). As for screenwriting, she collaborated with Mary Harron on the script of Harron's controversial "American Psycho" (2000, in which Turner had a small part), helping to take out the violent, repulsive stuff that most people could hardly stand to read in the Bret Easton Ellis novel to concentrate on its scathing 80s satire. She and Harron have also collaborated on an as yet-to-be-produced screenplay about 1950s pin-up girl Bettie Page with Turner attached to portray the starring role.
Linked romantically in the press, though Turner has offered "We're just friends" and "No comment" to reporters' queries
Sarah Lawrence College
About her role as a dominatrix in "Preaching to the Perverted": "I looked like a cartoon character in it. Every day it was two-and-a-half hours of makeup, false eyelashes, wigs, rubber corsets . . . Every dress-up fantasy I ever had was satisfied." --Guinevere Turner quoted in INTERVIEW, February 1997
On her drunken encounter with fiftysomething cabbie Cookie DeJesus, captured on camera: "I'm so glad I made the cut for HBO's 'The Best of the Taxixcab Confessions'. I can't tell you how many more people recognize me from 'Taxicab' than they do from 'Go Fish'.
"No one ever believes me when I say this, but I have never, before or since that night, tried to pick up a total stranger. I just wish I could show you what she looked like to me at 4am--sassy, sexy, buff and about my age." --Turner to Cathay Che in TIME OUT NEW YORK, March 6-13, 1997
About whether she was the inspiration for Kevin Smith's "Chasing Amy": "At Sundance, everyone kept asking Kevin and Scott [Mosher, the film's producer] if the story was inspired by me, and I was asked by a reporter if the film was based on my life. Those guys are my friends, and to the extent that I may be their only lesbian friend, maybe knowing me gave them the idea for the movie. But is it my life story? Please, please, please don't say that! How scary--absolutely no way!" --Turner in TIME OUT NEW YORK, March 6-13, 1997