Film Review- Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017)

“Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” – Hedy Lamarr

Society viewed her as too beautiful to be smart, too beautiful to be anything more than a vixen selling war bonds, or even a pioneer of science. Cruel intentions circled her, but it never really damaged Hedy Lamarr’s internal genius and pursuit for independence. It’s a damn shame that she was so unfairly overlooked throughout her life. Her offerings to modern technology alone should’ve elevated her status to a groundbreaking inventor of her time. She was a woman of great potential who should’ve been glorified in her industry. Instead, her brilliance was lost in the throes of exploitation and the overbearing masculinity of the 1940’s. Alexandra Dean’s documentary, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, introduces us to the ravishing intellectual wonder that was Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler. Dubbed ‘Hedy Lamarr’ by showbiz, the Austrian-born film starlet proved that her wit and brains were even more alluring than her physical beauty. There was much more to the Silver Screen beauty than meets the eye, and it is well worth seeking. This documentary shows us the glorious and inventive side to Lamarr, as well as the saddest turns in her life. Above everything, it is astonishing.

Even as a little girl in Austria, Lamarr was always infatuated with the principle of invention. Her most notable contribution to society, with the help of famous composer, George Antheil, was the invention of frequency hopping. This allowed the changing of radio frequencies to secure communications and guidance for Allied torpedoes during WWII. Her eventual patent on the invention was neglected at first. She was told to go sell up some war bonds instead, and brought in $25 mil. Lamarr should’ve received recognition for her intellect rather than be a distraction for the troops. It wasn’t until years later that she would get some justice on the matter; better late than never? Thanks to her advances in technology, we can indulge in our modern pleasures such as WiFi, Bluetooth, cell phones, and GPS. This woman was surely ahead of her time. Society hardly deserved her.

The documentary features Lamarr’s own retrospective account on life from a 1990 taped interview. She recalls everything from her famous, spunky 1933 film, Ekstase – in which she simulates an orgasm- to the ski resort she built during her time in Aspen, Colorado. Lamarr always talked about one day writing her own memoir. Sadly, she never came around to it. It’s easy to enjoy her company in the interview. One thing she always wanted was a career with freedom. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story delves into the star’s most glamorous roles, her self-assured spirit as a woman in the industry, and her later years as a recluse. It is riveting, tragic, and empowering to me all at once. I want to thank director Alexandra Dean, and the rest of the crew and producers behind this film. It sheds an earnest and sensible light to the sharp actress that many people can now relish.Β “I only know that they do not understand me. How can you understand a person who has had as many phases in life as I have?” -Hedy Lamarr in an interview with Austrian TV INTV (1970)

Nashville readers, go out to the Belcourt Theatre and watch Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. I promise you, it is an absorbing and memorable watch.


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