Looking in from the outside, it would be easy to dismiss Hedy Lamarr as just one of many Hollywood starlets who had their brief spell in the sun before disappearing into obscurity. Considered by many to be the most beautiful woman ever to grace the big screen, it is true that the Austrian actress had a hot streak in 1940 & 1941 as part of the MGM machine, before almost fading into obscurity only a decade later. Although, her most iconic performance was in Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah in 1949. However, as Alexandra Dean’s debut documentary beautifully illustrates, there was so much more to her story.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story reveals an extraordinary and extremely complicated, and often troubled, life. Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler was born in Vienna in 1914 to Jewish parents. By 1938, at the grand old age of 24, she’d become notorious for appearing nude and being the first woman to simulate an orgasm on film in the Czech film Ecstasy, married an Austrian millionaire who supplied weaponry to the Nazis, disguised herself as a maid to flee from him, and despite not speaking English persuaded MGM founder Louis B. Mayer that she could be a Hollywood star. And the most interesting part was yet to come…
Alexandra Dean uses audio recordings of a rare late interview with the star, who eventually became a recluse, along with archive footage, photographs, film clips and conversations with family and friends to construct a fascinating profile of someone who lived a rather lonely (despite having six husbands) but very full life. Hedy Lamarr was supremely intelligent and creative, but her beauty which made her famous also prevented her from being someone much more. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is a marvellous piece of documentary film-making, allowing us to enter the inner sanctum of a Hollywood star.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is in cinemas from 9 March.