VIFF: Bombshell – The Hedy Lamarr Story

Beauty and the Brain

It’s a complicated story. Hedy Lamarr was one of those women who had it all.  Beauty, brains and a career as a Hollywood actress. Perhaps most famous for her movie Samson and Delilah and a whole bunch of other lesser known films.

Born Hedwig Eva Kiesler in Vienna, Austria, to Jewish parents, she was considered an icon, regarded by fans and critics as the most beautiful woman to ever grace the silver screen. But she had so much more to offer than only her looks and it’s a shame she wasn’t recognized for that.  She also had a beautiful mind.  She could have been a scientist. What is so amazing about this documentary by Alexandra Dean, is that it delves beneath the surface of a legendary glamour queen and 40’s sex symbol to explore the depth of her other talents, specifically her mind.

Of course any legend worth her weight in salt is not without scandal. She was no exception and it was a hot mess.  Six ex-husbands, denounced by the Pope at 18, drug addiction and financial ruin. Can you imagine what kind of reality show that would make?

The Hollywood Reporter:

“A mechanically minded, self-taught inventor, Lamarr was 5 years old when she took apart and reassembled her music box; years later, when she was dating Howard Hughes, she allegedly revised his designs for a plane she knew wouldn’t be able to do what he wanted. Her biggest claim to the glam-nerd hall of fame, though, is “frequency-hopping,” an idea she came up with during WWII: Hearing that Allied forces’ radio-controlled torpedoes could be thrown off course by jamming the frequencies transmitted to them, she teamed with a friend, composer George Antheil, to implement a solution. Perhaps inspired by an early remote-control for home radios, the two adapted the mechanism of player-pianos to propose a system that would skip from one frequency to another as a torpedo traveled, with only the broadcaster and the torpedo knowing which frequency would be used at any moment. The two were granted a patent for the device in 1942, but the Navy rejected it. (They put her to work selling war bonds and entertaining troops instead.) But a version of the design was used in the Cuban Missile Crisis, after the patent expired, and worked its way into practically all modern wireless communications tech. “Wi-Fi and Bluetooth — that’s my mother’s technology,” boasts Lamarr’s son.”

Before even seeing this film I loved watching a rare TV interview where she appeared on the Merv Griffin Show in 1969 joined by Woody Allen.  She had a sense of humor and an amazing personality to boot. A total delight. What a woman!

The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) ends on Friday, October 13th.  If you want to see about tickets please visit: https://www.viff.org/