BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY (director/writer: Alexandra Dean; cinematographers: Buddy Squires/Alex Stikich; editor: Alexandra Dean/Penelope Falk/Lindy Jankura; music: Jeremy Bullock/Keegan DeWitt; cast: Lodi Loder Mel Brooks, Diane Kruger, Peter Bogdanovich, Jeanine Basinger, Robert Osborne; Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR producers: Adam HaggiagKatherine Drew/Alexandra Dean; Reframed Pictures; 2017)

"A timely and emotional documentary on the former 40s and 50s Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A timely and emotional documentary on the former
40s and 50s Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr by first-timer Alexandra Dean. Hedy was arguably the most beautiful woman in the world and was also brilliant--a rare combo for many to fathom. In fact during WWII, the 26-year-old Hedy, while in America, came up with the idea of a radio-controlled torpedo that could be guided. To counter the enemy coming upon the correct radio frequency and jamming it, she invented an idea for switching frequencies every split-second so that the signal could not be tracked. This idea she worked on with her colleague, the avant-garde composer George Antheil. The inventors were never paid for their invention but received two patents for them. It anticipated modern-day wireless communication and was the knowledge used for Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi.

The very smart and beautiful Hedy, considered to be a stiff actress, appeared in film roles mostly as a bimbo (such as in
the De Mille epic Samson and Delilah (1949) and the camp classic White Cargo (1942)), and caused a scandal by appearing nude as a teenager in the Czech Jewish director Gustav Machaty's Ecstasy (1933).

She was born as a Jew, Hedwig Kiesler, in Vienna. Her family was wealthy. Her father was a bank manager and her mother a would-be concert pianist, who converted to Catholicism. At 16 Hedy quit school to become an actress. While on stage in Sissy, at 19, she met
and married the Jewish millionaire munitions manufacturer Fritz Mandl, an arms dealer doing business with Nazi Germany. The wedding was a Catholic ceremony, and the marriage turned out to be too rocky to last long. Hedy escaped hubby and Austria just a year before the Anschluss. She spent a brief time in London, where Louis B. Mayer recruited the non-English speaking girl of 22 to come to Hollywood, and gave her a new last name and a nice fat contract with MGM. From thereon we trace her life in Hollywood films and in such fair to middling films as Algiers (1938), Boom Town (1940), Comrade X (1940), Come Live With Me (1941) and  Lady of the Tropics (1939).

When she lost her looks at an advanced age she tried but failed to regain them through plastic surgery, and resorted to
being a prescription drug addict. After she was caught in the 1960s shoplifting, she became more reclusive and stayed out of the public eye. In the late 1990s, at the age of 76, her joyous 'no regrets' phone interview with Forbes reporter Fleming Meeks provides the bulk of the material for the movie that makes her look good even if not seen. It tells of her life as a child in Vienna and her glamor days in Hollywood, and that all six of her marriages were failures. Importantly, it tells it from her viewpoint and is not distorted like when others tell about her life.

The conventional biopic, Hedy's best one yet, uses
stills, home movie footage, talking head interviews (Diane Kruger, Peter Bogdanovich, Jeanine Basinger, Robert Osborne), and interviews with Lamarr's children and grandchildren — her very attractive granddaughter Lodi Loder. It was amazing to learn from her daughter Denise Loder Colton that she did not know her mother was Jewish until told by others. Hedy's adopted son Anthony Loder, who lost favor with the family and went his own way, tells us her addiction is attributed to the jet-set Dr. Max Jacobson, aka Dr. Feelgood. Even Mel Brooks, an ardent fan, weighs in with a few politically incorrect jokes about her. He joked about her in his Blazing Saddles film.

REVIEWED ON 3/10/2018       GRADE:B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"