Blu-ray Review: Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

STUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Alexandra Dean
RELEASE DATE: April 17, 2018 | PRICE: DVD $18.89, Blu-ray $21.99
BONUSES: Interview with director, outtakes with Gillian Jacobs and Mel Brooks
SPECS: NR | 88 min. | Documentary | 1.78:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall 


Hedy Lamarr was more than just a pretty face.

This is the mantra behind Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, the fascinating story of the mysterious Hollywood screen siren and sometimes inventor who lived an incredible, event-filled life.

Using clips, archival footage, interviews with a diverse group of people that includes Mel Brooks, Peter Bogdanovich, Diane Kruger and family members, along with clips of Lamarr on talk shows, Bombshell paints a stirring survey of a complicated woman—considered one of the most beautiful to ever grace a movie screen– who fits the adage “there’s more here than meets the eye.”

The Jewish actress from Vienna, who starred in such films as Algiers, White Cargo and Samson and Delilah, welcomed controversy from the get-go of her career, scandalously appearing nude and acting out the world’s first screen orgasm in the 1933 Czech production Ecstasy. After escaping from her Nazi-affiliated munitions tycoon husband, she landed in Hollywood and, under the supervision of MGM honcho Louis B. Mayer, the heavily accented Lamarr began making movies.

The outbreak of World War II, however, brings out another side of the actress, as she helps develop a way for Allied underwater forces to protect signals for their ships to their torpedoes. While it wasn’t used by the government until the 1950s, the basic principles behind Lamarr’s inventions involving signals eventually led to the development of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.

Alas, as depicted in the film, Lamarr was never paid for her inventions and her film career remained uneven. Later in life, she underwent extensive facial surgery to make herself look younger, became reclusive and, faced shoplifting charges in both Florida and Southern California.

Bombshell is a well-rounded journey into Lamarr’s life peppered with fascinating historical facts and a few funny anecdotes, courtesy of Mel Brooks, a fan of hers who was the target of a lawsuit by her after he joked about her name in Blazing Saddles.

Upon its limited theatrical release, the film saw steady business, earning over $700,000 during run. There’s a built-in audience for Bombshell among movie fans, so it will likely expand its audience in its home edition.

Buy or Rent Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.