“Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story” on Netflix: A 1940’s icon and modern inspiration

Hedy Lamarr

By Anabel Sanchez

Contributing Writer

Beauty, wit, and undeniable brains. That is how Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story epitomizes Hollywood screen legend Hedy Lamarr.

A 90-minute documentary that premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, it finally premieres on Netflix for easy streaming. First-time director Alexandra Dean sheds light on Lamarr, whose beauty and image was so powerful, she was even the model for Snow White and the inspiration behind Catwoman.

Featured are interviews with family and friends of Lamarr, along with interviews with notable Hollywood personalities who recall memories of her. This is interwoven with unearthed audio from Lamarr herself, whose sharp sense of humor shines throughout the film.

While Dean does examine Lamarr’s Hollywood image, what the documentary does so well is enlighten the viewer on how a woman can be so many things wrapped into one package.

Yes, Lamarr was a Hollywood glamour girl, but she was also the girl, who when tired of the oppression of her first husband and his affiliation with Nazis, drugged her maid, sewed her jewels into her coat, and fled from her Austrian home on her bicycle.

That was the real Hedy Lamarr.

More importantly, Dean outstandingly depicts Lamarr’s knack for inventions—specifically, how she invented the groundbreaking technology of frequency hopping with her friend, composer George Antheil. It was an invention that would revolutionize the world, because it would become the basis for all modern wireless technology.

Yep, you read right. The existence of your smartphone, Wi-Fi, and GPS are possible largely thanks to her. The film brilliantly emphasizes the importance of this during an era when actresses were expected to just stand there and ‘look pretty.’

The documentary also poignantly depicts the many tragedies of Lamarr’s whirlwind life: the seizing of her innovative patent, failed marriages, addiction, and her self-imposed exile from the public. Lamarr summed up her hardships with one of many insightful quotes throughout the film, saying, “I’ve been everything, but I’ve never been me.”

By the time the latter half of the film rolls around, one finds themselves longing for the woman to get her just due.

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is undeniably well worth your time. After watching it, I couldn’t help but think that despite the fact that Hedy didn’t receive credit for most of her life, there is sweet satisfaction in the timeliness of this film’s release.

With American society smack-dab in the middle of a 21st century feminist movement, perhaps there isn’t a better time to discover the life and achievements of Lamarr, who was so far ahead of her time. It’s definitely better late than never when it comes to this fascinating woman.

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is available now on Netflix.

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