Along with digital video and consumer drones — cf. this week’s Leaning into the Wind — one of the greatest boons to documentaries over the past decade has been previously unheard recordings of deceased people, the latest beneficiary being Alexandra Dean’s excellent Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. Tapes of Lamarr from 1990 are among the primary source for exploring her life, which was a prime example of how it’s not always easy being the best at something — and when you’re the best at having an aesthetically pleasing face, it can make it all the more difficult to be taken seriously in other departments. (To some, she’s the source of a running joke about Harvey Korman’s character’s name in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, hence Brooks being Bombshell’s first on-screen interviewee, followed by the Saddles gag in question.)
The fact that she appeared naked in the famously racy, pre-code film Ecstasy made it all the more difficult for men to believe she could be smart. Even though her big brain came up with the basic structure of what later became wifi during World War II, her innovations were ignored at the time because she was a pretty lady. One shudders to think how much worse it would have been if she were blonde. Because they’re dumb!
Opens Friday at the Clay Theater.