Known for her iconic look, wild-child antics, and scandalous private life, Hedy Lamarr was revered as “the most beautiful woman in the world” in 1940s tabloids. Yet, few know her true story; an undiscovered genius, she pioneered a secret communication system intended to guide US torpedoes during WWII, which became the basis for contemporary technologies like GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi.
The directorial debut from Emmy Award–winning journalist and producer Alexandra Dean, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story looks deeper into the life of the screen legend, whose military and communication contributions went unrecognized for decades. As a child, the Austrian-born Lamarr would disassemble music boxes and put them back together, just to understand how they worked. After her breakout role in the Czech film Ecstasy, the young Hedy escaped her ammunition-manufacturing husband and fled the country, later signing a contract with MGM studios and starring in notable hits such as Algiers, Boom Town and Comrade X with Clark Gable. Her most impressive achievement, however, was the one she was never acknowledged for: a revolutionary radio guidance system called “frequency hopping” that she co-invented with composer George Antheil in her spare time to defeat the Nazis in naval battle. Though she would attempt to patent the idea, the US Navy thought she was better suited to selling war bonds and entertaining troops instead. Sadly, the name Hedy Lamarr would later only be known for the inventor’s infamous six marriages, affairs, drug use, and obsession with plastic surgery. Throughout her life, Lamarr’s face proved to be a blessing and a curse, often opening one door, but halting the possibility of opening another.
Produced by Susan Sarandon (The Meddler) and featuring appearances by film legends such as Mel Brooks (The Producers, Blazing Saddles), Peter Bogdanovich (Hitchcock/Truffaut, While We’re Young) and Diane Kruger (Farewell My Queen, Inglourious Basterds), the Tribeca hit finally tells Lamarr’s story the way she intended to tell it. A woman ahead of her time, Lamarr not only paved the way for communication technology, but she was also one of the first women to produce her own films during a time when women were restricted to positions in front of the camera. Dispelling Lamarr’s public image as a flighty celebrity, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is a trailblazing tribute to women whose contributions have gone unrecognized and an inspiration for future generations of female inventors to come.
“A thoroughly engaging, eye-opening showbiz doc.” (John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter)