“Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” details the intriguing, sexy and often tragic life of arguably the silver screen’s most ravishing and vivacious actress.
This documentary is full of movie clips, interviews with friends, family and producers, including Mel Brooks, and features Hedy’s voice from a decades-old recorded interview recently uncovered by the film’s director, Alexandra Dean (a lengthy interview by Fleming Meeks for an article in Forbes).
Dean artfully weaves together Hedwig Kiesler’s early life as a student keenly interested in science; her first forays as an actress, including her starring role in “Ekstase” (where her nude performance was considered too scandalous for American theaters); and the rise of Nazism in Austria, culminating in her clever escape from her country and from her first marriage to Nazi sympathizer Fritz Mandl.
Hedy’s career in Hollywood was launched by a chance meeting with Louis B. Mayer of MGM fame in London soon after she left Austria.
While movies would pay the bills, consume most of her time and ultimately define how she was remembered, they were not her passion. Her family, her assistance to the war effort against the Nazis and her entrepreneurial escapades dominated her agenda.
She is known for having six wealthy husbands and steamy relationships with many others, such as Howard Hughes and some of the Kennedys, but not for successfully raising two children essentially on her own. She is known for entertaining our troops, not for raising $25 million in war bonds. She is known for her work in front of the camera, not for being the first female actress to produce her own movies.
Finally, in an astounding piece of history, Hedy holds the first patent for the concept of encrypted radio transmission using a system she called “frequency hopping.” Several prominent scientists claim that patent was the basis for the creation of radio-guided torpedoes and missiles in the 1960s, GPS in the 1970s, and wi-fi and Bluetooth technologies today.
“Bombshell” offers a newfound respect for one of Hollywood’s most beautiful and enduring actresses. Clips of her movies will leave you wanting more. When she walked into a room, she seduced men and women alike.
This film has played at a dozen film festivals, including Tribeca, Aspen, Boston, San Francisco and Jerusalem; now it is Atlanta’s turn.
(Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screenings: Jan. 27, 1 p.m., Perimeter Pointe; Jan. 28, 11:05 a.m., Hollywood; Feb. 1, 7 :15 p.m., Atlantic Station; Feb. 3, 8:50 p.m., Springs; Feb. 15, 1 p.m., Tara)