Monkeys Fighting Robots

Starting in the late 1930s, actress Hedy Lamarr flashed her beautiful face in dozens of Hollywood pictures, but behind the scenes, she was inventing Wi-fi. No, really. The story of Hedy Lamarr is fascinating from start to finish, and her life is documented in a new film called Bombshell! One of the 62 films featured at the Miami Jewish Film Festival, Bombshell! is a look into a woman who lived in two extremes.

Bombshell! expertly takes viewers into the world Ms. Lamarr who, for lack of a better word, is a superwoman. To the world at large, Lamarr is an actress who starred in some of Hollywood’s earliest blockbusters such as Boom Town, Algiers, and Samson and Delilah. Lamarr was gorgeous, a trendsetter, and a terrific actress.

But Bombshell! delves deeper into the life of the Hollywood starlet. Hedy ended her life as a recluse, but as the documentary reveals, a marvelous life preceded the lonely end. The story is wrapped around four cassette tapes discovered in 1990 that contained the last interview Lamarr ever did. Bombshell! weaves in Hedy’s own words with interviews that include friends, family, and the likes of celebrities like Mel Brooks who idolized the actress.

Lamarr grew up with a curiosity for inventing. At an early age, the young girl would take apart mechanical toys and put them back together. And though she entered the world of filmmaking, that passion never left her. And the documentary includes the story of how Hedy was pivotal in the invention of frequency hopping, even receiving a patent for the idea. If you’re not tech savvy, Hedy’s invention in 1941 is the basis for Bluetooth, military communications, and, yes, wifi!

Hedy’s rise and fall and rise again and fall again is the stuff of legend. The story is something that could easily become a hit HBO series and probably win a few awards along the way.

Writer and director Alexander Dean does a fantastic job of pacing the documentary and punctuating the story along the way with Hedy’s own words. Photos, interviews, and clips from movies and TV fill the 90-minute doc and keep it an intriguing watch for the entire runtime. Suffice it to say, there’s rarely a dull moment in Hedy’s life.

Despite the somewhat sad end of her life, Hedy remained a fantastic example of class and glamour. Nothing says this more than the end of the doc. The final words are a sentiment from the brilliant actress that we should all take deeply within us and live with every day:

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish alternative motives.
Do good anyway.

The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down
by the smallest people with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and you’ll be kicked into the teeth.
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

Bombshell! is part of the Miami Jewish Film Festival
running from January 11th to 25th, 2018.