Born Hedwig Kiesler in Vienna, Austria on November 9, 1914, she achieved international notoriety for appearing nude and simulating an orgasm in the Austrian-Czech production Ekstase (Ecstasy, 1933), following which she married the first of her six husbands, Fritz Mandl, a prominent Austro-fascist arms dealer.
With the collapse of her first marriage, Kiesler signed a contract with MGM, changed her name to Hedy Lemarr, and immigrated to Hollywood. Beginning with Algiers in 1938, she made a dozen films for MGM working opposite the likes of James Stewart, Spencer Tracy and William Powell. However, Lemarr developed a reputation for not wanting to work, turning down leads in Gaslight, Casablanca, and other films that would have solidified her place at the forefront of Hollywood's leading ladies.
Let go from MGM in 1944, Lamarr worked independently on a number of films, a couple of which she also bankrolled. Though she continued to make movies until 1958, the apex of her post-MGM career was Cecil B. DeMille's 1949 epic Samson and Delilah opposite Victor Mature. Financial problems, shoplifting charges, and treatment for nervous exhaustion finally ended her declining career, and she moved to New York City, and later to Florida where she died on January 19, 2000.
Filmmakers Donatello & Fosco Dubini, and Barbara Obermaier construct their workmanlike 85-minute biography from new interviews and from an extended German-language interview conducted with Ms. Lemarr in 1970. The picture that emerges is of a woman that was bright but deeply troubled, who left a wake of failed marriages and estranged children behind, and died a recluse.
Outshining the main feature itself is the complete 79-minute cut of Ekstase (Ecstasy, 1933) provided on disc two. A landmark film for its nudity and simulated orgasm, it's the tale of a newlywed who has an adulterous romance culminating in the suicide of her estranged, impotent husband and herself. The image looks to be recently restored and is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.14:1 with removable English subtitles. Disc two also includes a gallery of 34 stills and two essays about Ekstase.