Lamarr Stuns Again, Invents WiFi

3/25/2020 - Monocle Journal

The Golden Age of Hollywood in the early 1930s was a glamorous period, known for its suave heroes, captivating leading ladies, and artistic directors. In terms of both narrative and cinematography, films were heavily constrained by the Hays Code, which set out strict moral guidelines for movies and as a result, classic Hollywood films became characterised by their wholesome characters and contrite happy endings. However, although more risqué material was not nearly as accessible as it is today, the illicit has always found a way of sneaking into mainstream culture and so it was that whilst King Kong and Gone with the Wind dominated at the box office, Czech director Gustav Machatý’s Ecstasy (1933) became an underground favourite through small, illegal screenings. The film, which tells the story of a woman who leaves her loveless marriage to an older man and begins a passionate relationship with a younger man, certainly did not uphold the values of classical Hollywood cinema. But thanks to the daring nature of its beautiful leading lady, Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr, who appeared fully nude in the film and who performed what is widely regarded as the first non-pornographic sex scene in film, the movie became something of a classic – and Lamarr became a household name.