By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Hedy Lamarr was a lot of things- provocateur, Hollywood royalty, tabloid queen, inventor of the basis of most modern communication…
Wait, what do you do in your spare time?
Bombshell: the Hedy Lamarr Story delivers just what it promises- an examination of the life and times of one of Hollywood’s most enrapturing beauties, and, lesser known, one of the 21st Century’s most influential inventors.
Director Alexandra Dean chooses to pretty much play it straight- telling the story of Lamarr from her earliest years as a rich Jewish girl then scandalous film ingenue in the Bohemian pre-war Vienna (she had the first full-frontal nude scene and simulated on-screen orgasm in film history, a feat that would not be managed again in conventional film for decades), to her escape into the clutches of Louis B. Mayer and Hollywood glamour, to her wartime efforts with the Inventors Council and in bail bonds sales, to a later career marked with grief, groundbreaking then depressing plastic surgery, and addiction to Dr. Feelgood’s Vitamin B injections (yes, a real person, and yes, it was meth).
What emerges is the portrait of a woman who was utterly gorgeous, yes, but also forward-thinking, manipulative, scandalous, and unconcerned by whatever anyone else thought or said. A woman who used these qualities to truly “made her own reality”, but who never received credit for shaping ours in as profound a way as any inventor of modern times. This is no exaggeration- her invention of frequency hopping (which Dean explains the origin and science of in a comprehensible and interesting way) underlies cellular communication, wifi, bluetooth, and countless military technologies. How about that for a side gig to Hollywood stardom?
Maybe Adam Sandler’s been perfecting that flying car all these years?
Dean plays the filmmaking largely straight with interviews and stock footage and audio, and that’s all that’s necessary for such an interesting tale. So, the multiple animated flourishes that plaster the screen especially at the beginning of the film feel like unnecessary gilding and are a tad distracting.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is a conventionally delivered but nonetheless gripping portrait of one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th Century.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time somebody refers to Hedy’s beauty
Take a Drink: every time somebody refers to her formidable mind
Take a Drink: every time a scandal occurs
Do a Shot: when the immensity of her scientific accomplishment becomes clear