"I can excuse everything but boredom. Boring people don't have to stay that way." - Hedy Lamarr

The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

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The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby moira finnie » November 29th, 2017, 8:00 am

This is the discussion thread that will opening on Dec. 2 & 3 to ask filmmaker Alexandra Dean about her critically acclaimed documentary, BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY. All are welcome to participate!

SueSue Applegate aka Christy will be hosting this event and below is her announcement of this opportunity for us to ask Ms. Dean questions about Lamarr's remarkable legacy:

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Director Alexandra Dean visits The Silver Screen Oasis this weekend on Saturday and Sunday, December 2 and 3. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story has screened in Dallas, Toronto, San Francisco, New York, and several other venues in the United States.

Alexandra Dean is an Emmy award-winning documentary and news producer. She spent five years producing for the investigative news-magazine show NOW on PBS, where she covered the housing crisis, the student loan crisis, human rights abuses and environmental issues.
Following PBS she became a series and documentary producer at Bloomberg television. She co-created the long running Bloomberg series Innovators. Her Bloomberg documentary, The Player, an investigation of the gambling industry, received a New York Press Club Award and was described as a “breakout” by the channel and received 4 times Bloomberg’s usual viewership.

In 2014 she founded Reframed Pictures in partnership with filmmaker Adam Haggiag and the actress Susan Sarandon. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University, and received her Masters in Journalism at the Columbia Journalism School.

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First stop for Director Alexandra Dean and adorable husband Chris, who live in New York City, was a spicy BBQ feast with Publicist Kelly Kitchens, husband Mark Wickersham, and Sue Sue  at Pappas’ restaurant near the Studio Movie Grill prior to the screening of Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story at the Dallas VideoFest… Chris works for the BBC and one of his pet projects is the Brit Box, and the couple have two children.

Manola Dargis reviews Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story in the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/23/movi ... pe=article

Christy's Inkwells visits with Alexandra Dean in Dallas for the DocFest at Dallas VideoFest: https://suesueapplegate.wordpress.com/2 ... arr-story/

Dallas DocFest Screenings 2017: http://videofest.org/docufest/


Help us welcome Director Alexandra Haggiag Dean to The Silver Screen Oasis!
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Re: The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 1st, 2017, 11:29 am

Our Q & A begins tomorrow with Director of Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, Alexandra Dean.
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Here are two more recent articles featuring interviews with Alexandra Dean--

PACIFIC STANDARD: https://psmag.com/social-justice/a-silv ... -invention

VICE MEDIA: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vb3k ... e=vicefbus

In addition to previous screenings, the documentary will have its initial run extended at the IFC in New York and has been picked up for more national screenings in Minneapolis, Chicago, Hartford, Boston, and San Francisco, We are indeed thrilled to have Alexandra Dean visiting us.

I'd like to begin by asking what initially intrigued you about telling the intricacies of Hedy Lamarr's journey. What did you find particularly compelling about her?
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Re: The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 2nd, 2017, 1:13 pm

We are currently experiencing some techinical issues, but our Q & A will continue once the issues are solved. Thank you all for your patience!
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Re: The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby Alexandra Dean » December 2nd, 2017, 1:19 pm

Hi - technical issue resolved
I can post!

My answer to the question above is that I was doing a series about inventors for Bloomberg television for two years and it made me start to really investigate how we recognize the people who invent our world, how we celebrate them and what obstacles lie in their paths

And I began to realize that one obstacle for many female inventors was that they didn't feel the investors in Silicon Valley took them seriously. I began to wonder if that was because they didn't look like the inventors we study in history class. I wondered if it would make a difference if we could find women who came before them who were inventors and raise them up, so when I discovered the story of Hedy Lamarr it was a big answer to that Hidden Figures question I already had and I knew I needed to get to the bottom of her story

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Re: The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 2nd, 2017, 1:39 pm

Hidden Figures is a wonderfully inspiring 2016 film with Taraji P. Henson, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Kevin Costner, and Octavia Spencer about the women involved in the NASA race for space which hits close to home for me. I teach at a local college where the children and grandchildren of some of the engineers and technicians of the space program enroll. The topic definitely relates to Hedy Lamarr's travails as far as being recognized for her groundbreaking discoveries.

Working on your documentary, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarrr Story obviously involed a great deal of research, and by tracking down Barron's writer Fleming Meeks, and accessing Hedy Lamarr's interview on cassette that Meeks had conducted in 1990 obviously altered the trajectory of your previous preparation for the film. How did you decide to revise your initial plan for presenting her story?

And how does such a discovery speak to the dogged research necessary to uncover such a fascinating story of the "hidden figure" that Hedy Lamarr represented?
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Re: The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby Alexandra Dean » December 2nd, 2017, 1:49 pm

I really wanted to tell this story in Hedy's voice and I didn't have any record of her speaking about the invention before I began making BOMBSHELL. It took me six months to find the tapes that form the backbone of "Bombshell: the Hedy Lamarr Story" ... I had to make a list of every person who may have talked to Hedy Lamarr on the record about her invention during her lifetime... we compiled a list of seventy people who were still alive. I spent months calling and emailing them all, and in the end we realized we had the wrong email for Fleming Meeks! He'd moved over to Barron's magazine and the minute we called him he called back and said "I've been waiting 25 years for you to call me... because I had the tapes!" It changed everything. I listened to his four cassette tapes that had never been made public and I ripped up the film I had started and began again.

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Re: The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby Alexandra Dean » December 2nd, 2017, 1:50 pm

I really wanted Hedy to lead the narrative, BECAUSE she was a hidden figure. I wanted her to reclaim her story and her space. I think it does take that kind of dogged determination to uncover these stories but there are so many talented filmmakers out there willing to do the digging and I hope many more of these stories will come to light over the next few years and really shift our perception of what a woman can do with her life, what she can achieve and how she can make her mark on the world.

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Re: The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 2nd, 2017, 2:12 pm

I enjoyed meeting you and your lovely husband, Chris, in Dallas with publicist Kelly Kitchens for the Dallas VideoFest/Dallas DocFest.The screening was popuar and very well-received. And it seems that's the reaction all across the country. I'm so encouraged that your documentary has received such wonderful press, recognitions, and reception.

How did having access to Hedy's family members change your perceptions and your narrative? I felt the documentary was so detailed and illuminating her story with their insight added details that completed the many revelations about her life.
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Re: The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby Alexandra Dean » December 2nd, 2017, 2:15 pm

Yes! Having the children involved changed everything. Hedy's son and daughter had very different views of their mother, however, and sometimes it took me a long time to navigate the truth around who she was between the two narratives. Luckily they'd both saved a huge and rich archive of her letters and photographs, emails and documents and that gave me a really good portrait of her as well.

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Re: The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 2nd, 2017, 6:54 pm

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Can you shed some light on Hedy's process for devising or inventing new products or theories? Why did she seem so interested in creating inventions?
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Re: The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby Alexandra Dean » December 2nd, 2017, 8:04 pm

Yes! She believed that the best way to invent was to look for the simplest way to solve a problem. She believed the best inventions were simple.

She was naturally inventive and she played at taking gadgets apart and putting them back together again her whole childhood. When she was in Hollywood inventing became a way for her to relax and take her mind off her very intense work on set with Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Jimmy Stewart.

When it came to her most important invention, Frequency Hopping, she really did it because she was so frustrated watching her homeland get destroyed by the Nazis and then the people who tried to flee (including her mother) got trapped in England because Nazi U-Boats kept blowing up any ship that tried to bring refugees to safety in the US. Hedy wanted to create a torpedo that was so lethal and advanced that it could hunt down those Nazi U-Boats and blow them all up, leaving the Atlantic safe for refugees to cross once more.

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Re: The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 2nd, 2017, 8:33 pm

One aspect of the documentary that held me spellbound throughout the sequence concerned the actual development of the frequency-hopping. The graphics and the accompanying descriptions of the process illuminated the theory in such a concise way. It was so well-conceived. Was this difficult to grapple with during your creative process?

Co-creating the frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology with composer George Antheil was no small feat, either. How did Lamarr and Antheill work so well together? Did they both feel dejected or unhappy that the U.S. government did not acknowledge their invention? Was Antheill more unhappy about it than Hedy? Their joint creative process seems that they worked well together. Did you find that to be true?

My enthusiasm for this part of the documentary obvioiusly prompted so many questions, and I hope you don't mind.
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Re: The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby Alexandra Dean » December 2nd, 2017, 8:57 pm

Yes, the frequency hopping graphic was hard to design in a way that was clear and easy to understand the first time seeing it... we just played with the concept and tried several different ways of drawing it in space and in two dimensions before we found a combination that worked...

Lamarr and Antheil were an incredible match intellectually, they loved working together and Hedy describes them sitting on the floor of her house using a lipstick tube for the torpedo and a box of matches for the frequencies... they found joy in invention. I think theirs was a very natural, easy fit. They did argue, however. Hedy didn't want to demand a lot of money for the invention upfront, George did. Hedy thought that was unpatriotic.

They were both dejected when the navy rejected the patent. Hedy wanted to keep working on it but George quickly moved on. I think Hedy then stopped inventing for a long time. I wonder if she wasn't depressed about it.

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Re: The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » December 2nd, 2017, 9:39 pm

Here is an article appearing on the TCM Website that Robert Osborne wrote for Hedy Lamarr's Star of the Month Celebration...I think it's a sweet tribute to Hedy's friendship with Robert Osborne.

"ROBERT OSBORNE ON HEDY LAMARR

"That face, that face, that wonderful face..." began the lyrics of a song by Lew Spence and Alan Bergman. It continues "You must forgive the way that I stare...but never will these eyes behold a sight that could replace - that face, that face, that face."

Those words weren't specifically written about TCM's Star of the Month for April but they could have been bacause no one in Hollywood's history of beautiful women has had an exterior quite like Hedy Lamarr. It's something you can see with regularity this month on TCM since that face, that face will prominently be on display in 20 of her films, including her very first one, the notorious 1933 Ecstasy (airing April 3) in which she caused an uproar by cavorting in the nude long before that became standard operating practice in films.

You can also see the movie which legitimately put her on the map, the romantic Algiers with Charles Boyer (also 4/03) and check out Hedy in her most famous role when, amidst a cast of thousands, she's a DeMillian Delilah, the Biblical seductress who gives the world's most famous haircut in the lavish 1950 Samson and Delilah (April 24).

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We'll also have a king's ransom of Lamarrvelous appearances which came in between in which she is lusted after by such top-tier costars as Clark Gable, John Garfield, Jimmy Stewart, Spencer Tracy, Robert Taylor and numerous others including (!) Bob Hope. One thing you'll discover about this Viennese-born fascinator when you watch these films: yes, granted, she was a looker (to put it mildly) but she's often a much better actress than she was given credit for being. No 1930s Meryl Streep, maybe, and I'm sure she never gave Bette Davis or Ingrid Bergman a sleepless night in the 1940s, although one critic in reviewing Hedy's performance in the 1946 film The Strange Woman (April 24 on TCM) did note that "Bette Davis couldn't have done it better." The problem for Hedy was always "that face," which consistently overshadowed the acting prowess and versatility she did possess.


You can check her out this month playing everything from a comically deadpan Russian streetcar conductor in Comrade X to a tempestuous native vixen named Tondelayo in White Cargo, a dirt-poor Portuguese cannery worker in Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat, a royal Princess in Her Highness and the Bellboy and just a nice, normal working woman in the film which was her own personal favorite among all her movies, H.M. Pullman, Esq.

Hedy was a friend of mine. We met in the mid-1960s, a decade after her big star days were over and a time when her life was particularly complicated. There had been an arrest for shoplifting followed by a trial (in which, for the record, she was acquitted), then an embarrassing "autobiography" credited to her which she didn't write. That and the normal frustrations which can come when a beautiful woman begins to age made it tough going for her but she handled the various tsunamis which hit her with an amazing, almost childlike grace. She was, I might add, also totally different from the mysterious, exotic creature she often projected from the screen. The real Hedy loved picnics, comfortable clothes, playing charades, exploring, hiking, painting and laughter. She knew the value of friends and friendship. The real Hedy Lamarr was extraordinarily beautiful in ways which had nothing whatsoever to do with that face. that face."


How do you feel that Hedy's friendship with Robert Osborne exemplified other close relationships she had with friends? Seeing Robert Osborne in his last onscreen interview your documentary, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story was indeed a pleasure. What can you tell us about his visit with you? Were you surprised that he wanted to share his stories about Hedy? And did you find any photos of Robert Osborne with Hedy Lamarr?
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Re: The Q & A with Alexandra Dean on BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Postby moira finnie » December 2nd, 2017, 11:57 pm

Hi Alexandra! Thanks for visiting this weekend. I am looking forward to seeing your film, but wondered if you could describe a little about Hedy Lamarr's education. Did she have a strong interest in math & science as a schoolgirl?

Also, the circumstances of Lamarr's first marriage to Austrian armaments manufacturer, Friedrich Mandl have intrigued me. I realize that she was quite young at the time, but did she understand that he was a fascist sympathizer when they married? Did the actress-inventor's reported Jewish ancestry affect her decision to leave him?

Thanks in advance for any insights you can share about her background before coming to America.
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