Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Hedy Lamarr Doc Makes TV Premiere on American Masters

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | May 23rd, 2018

Writer-director Alexandra Dean’s “Bombshell” recounts the remarkable life and achievements of Hedy Lamarr, the Golden Age screen goddess whose physical beauty and career as a Hollywood actor long overshadowed her groundbreaking technological inventions. The documentary, which premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, will be broadcast on PBS as an installment of “American Masters” on May 18, 2018. The cult of Lamarr, which flowered following a 1990 “Forbes” profile by Fleming Meeks, has more recently taken up residence on the internet -- including an appearance in a 2015 Google Doodle honoring the 101st anniversary of Lamarr’s birth.

Dean’s straightforward presentational style, which relies heavily on talking head interviews and a wealth of archival content, presents the key events of Lamarr’s life in chronological order. Thematically, the director privileges Lamarr’s offscreen work, even though the arc of her tumultuous filmography supplies the movie with a parade of clips. The movie’s key section details Lamarr’s collaboration with the avant garde composer George Antheil, with whom she developed her ideas on the subject of frequency hopping. The two friends filed a patent, and offered their tech to aid the war effort, but it was shelved by the United States Navy. The foundations of Lamarr’s work with spread spectrum frequency eventually proved important in the development of Bluetooth, GPS, and Wi-Fi.

Dean has so much raw material, an opening montage flashes past several anecdotes that would have merited a deeper dive had Lamarr’s resume been less crowded. Claims that Disney’s animated Snow White and DC Comics’ Catwoman were directly inspired by Lamarr zip past, and Mel Brooks more or less credits his entire career to Lamarr, cracking that the star’s unique allure in “Algiers” drew him to Los Angeles. Later, Dean highlights a suggestion that Louis B. Mayer’s inability to see past Lamarr’s sex appeal negatively affected her film opportunities.

Along with luminaries like Brooks, Robert Osborne, Diane Kruger, and Peter Bogdanovich, Lamarr’s family members participate in the project, but Dean struggles to find the right balance. Lamarr’s daughter Denise makes a number of insightful comments, but is overshadowed by the presence of her younger brother Anthony. Anthony, whose commitment to his mother’s legacy can be seen in the volume of preserved and catalogued press clippings, photographs, magazines, and correspondence he has archived, emerges as the de facto spokesperson. Curiously, Dean only devotes a cursory mention to Lamarr’s other son. James Loder speaks briefly on his own behalf, as Dean attempts to reconcile the grim reality of a fraught relationship with a mother who publicly claimed James was adopted.

Dean directly addresses other aspects of Lamarr’s personal life that might be construed as dream factory cliche, most notably the subject’s six marriages (all of which ended in divorce), drug addictions, and Lamarr’s later penchant for frequent visits to the plastic surgeon. The filmmaker relies on a few key interviews to revise the narrative, pointedly noting that Lamarr certainly did not want to be perceived as a joke in parodies like Lucille Ball’s “I am Tondelayo” shimmy. Lamarr’s status as an iconoclastic original is enhanced by her string of unsuccessful partnerships, as her inability to enjoy lasting love is explained by son Anthony as stemming from trust issues exacerbated by men who only cared about the way she looked. The documentary opens with Lamarr’s quotable epigraph/lament, “Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”  

Recently in:

News

​A trick of the light

by Sabrina Hornung

“In 2 ½ years I’ve acquired 221 plates. The end game is 1,000 wet plates of Native Americans and it’s going to take me 15 more years,” Balkowitsch said. When he started the portrait project, his initial goal was to create…

There will be a rocking event on coming this Thursday called Night Bazaar by Folkways. Night Bazaar is an event highlighting the community with a full spectrum of unique experiences, food, music, art and performances. Night Bazaar…

Thursday, August 23, 5-6:30 p.m.Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave. NDr. Craig Howe, Director of the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies (CAIRNS), will lead an art and poetry workshop in conjunction with the…

On August 14, The Bismarck Tribune reported that “A popular insecticide could be banned for agricultural use.” Popular as it may be I can think of a whole slew of adjectives that would be more appropriate like questionable,…

Well, Mr. President, Have You No Sense Of Decency Sir, At Long Last?We might have another flag debate in this country. We still see the Confederate symbol flying in activities promoted by white supremacists on the streets of…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

By Ben Myhre benmyhre35@gmail.com If you are a gardener in the area, you know that this is the time of year when zucchini becomes plentiful. In fact, many have a tough time using all of it. You may see just a small little zucchini…

Woodstock: even people who were born years after the original three-day music festival recognize the name. The event, which took place between August 15th and 18th at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in southern New York and attracted…

Elsie Fisher’s Kayla Day is the lonely but indefatigable middle-school protagonist of first-time feature filmmaker Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade,” a winning addition to the pantheon of the adolescent cinematic bildungsroman.…

It may be cliche to say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, but when wet plate artist Shane Balkowitsch found out that his 15-year-old daughter Abby Balkowitsch was following in his photography footsteps, he was…

By Stella Mehlhoffstellamehlhoff@gmail.comAs I stared out of Guthrie Theater’s Amber room at a bird’s eye of the cityscape and river below, I hardly took in the night lights, my mind was too focused on the art I had just…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

When I was first introduced to the traditional spirit of my ancestors, Akvavit (or aquavit), I never thought I’d ever find myself standing next to a giant “Viking” ship while comparing different brands of the “water of…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comThink back to one of your worst small decisions. Then answer the following questions:How did you make the decision?What happened after the decision?When did you know it was the worst…

Well, after nearly a dozen years of delay, it looks like Billings County is finally going to build a bridge over the Little Missouri State Scenic River north of Medora. The county posted a notice in the Federal Register on October…