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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

MOVIE REVIEWS

BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY (2017)

Featuring Mel Brooks, Jennifer Hom, Anthony Loder, Wendy Colton, Fleming Meeks, Richard Rhodes, Jan-Christopher Horak, Jeanine Basinger, Peter Bogdanovich, Anne Helen Petersen, Diane Kruger, Stephen Michael Shearer, Robert Osborne, Denise Loder DeLuca, Roy Windham, Manya Breuer, Guy P. Livingston, Tony Rothman, Prof. Danijela Cabric, Nino Amarena, Michael Tilson Thomas, Arthur A. McTighe, Lodi Loder, James L. Loder, William J. Birnes, Dr. Lisa Cassileth, David Hughes, Major Darrell Grob and archival footage of Hedy Lamarr.

Directed by Alexandra Dean.

Distributed by Zeitgeist Films. 90 minutes. Not Rated.

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Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

bomb·shell: 

1.  An overwhelming surprise or disappointment.

2.  a very attractive woman

3.  a fitting title for a movie about one of Hollywood’s most recognized faces and the “hidden in plain sight” story about an under acknowledged genius of her time.

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story dishes on the Hollywood beauty icon who garnered worldwide attention for her glamorous looks, marriages, scandals, and even arrests. More importantly, it sheds light on her inventive mind, strength, and perseverance to make a difference in the world. 

Born to a wealthy family in Vienna, Austria, Hedy was raised between the world wars, leading a bourgeois life of private schools and the celebration of culture, encouraged by her father to be creative and use her mind. Although born Jewish, the Kiesler family lived as assimilated Jews and did not publicize their religion. 

Hedy began her acting career in small Viennese films in her early teens, but gained notoriety at age 18, in 1933’s Ecstasy, a scandalous film of its time denounced by both the Pope for its sexual escapades and by Hitler for its Jewish actress.  It left a black mark on young Hedy’s career that she worked hard to overcome, but seemed to have had an ongoing impact on her contracts and overall career as both filmmakers and the public made assumptions on her character and acting skill, typecasting her for years. 

At 19, Hedy married Fritz Mandal, a jealous munitions tycoon, 14 years her senior. This was to be her first of six marriages.  A fun note mentioned in Bombshell is that Mandal’s jealousy and paranoia led him to buy up every print of Hedy from Ecstasy, and the more he bought, the more prints there were created. In spite of luxury and leisure, the marriage was unhappy and in the end, Hedy managed a stunning escape with her jewels sewn into her coat lining and maneuvered her way to London and then to Hollywood. 

Bombshell is filled with vignettes, photos, and footage of Old Hollywood – the glamour, the forced entry into drug use and addiction, and a world run by powerful men. This is much of the gossip and history that we’ve heard, but in Hedy’s world, there was also a parallel life of science and invention that she pursued in her off time – be it in her Hollywood set trailer or in her limited free time. 

What Bombshell does well is to tell the cautionary tale of what can happen to the human spirit if inventiveness and creativity are not celebrated and allowed to flourish. This is not the story of Albert Einstein, Howard Hughes, or Henry Ford. This is the story of a woman who collaborated on an idea that led to a US Patent for signal hopping technologies, was given a “thanks but no thanks” and then was told to put her efforts into something more useful, like selling war bonds if she wanted to help the troops. Her groundbreaking invention is the foundation of today’s Bluetooth, GPS, and secure wi-fi technologies. At the time, it was acknowledged by the Navy and then shelved. 

Hedy’s story is fascinating because it is so widely unknown. Bombshell as an overall film feels slow, rightfully angry, and a bit narcissistic as it focuses a bit too much time directly on cuts from her 1990 cassette recorded 1990 Forbes Interview.

It is an important story for this generation in the midst of the #metoo movement and a Hollywood journey in search of equality. However, I don’t suspect the story will garner the attention that it deserves in this format. Bombshell will be attractive to Old Hollywood buffs, but I fear that it will not reach the audience of young women that it is meant to inspire. 

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 9, 2018.

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Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 9, 2018.

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