Friday, May 29, 2015

Richard Linklater on ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA

Burt Young, who eats and talks at the same time better than any other performer.

Of all the films that have played at this years Jewels In The Wasteland II series, I would have to say that ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, the only real epic in the series, was the screening that knocked the most people back on their heels. Beautiful print, and a movie that demands (don't they all?) to be seen on the big screen. Also, a nice reminder that Robert De Niro has had the greatest acting career of all time.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bizarre Movie Resource Alert: Every Film Richard Nixon Watched In The White House

In 2004 Mark Feeney published a very well-reviewed, scholarly book about President Richard M. Nixon's relationship to the movies called NIXON AT THE MOVIES. Nixon's multiple screenings of PATTON during crisis points of the Vietnam War have been documented, and Peter Bogdanovich has written of the President's response to THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, but this book, lost in the dusty stacks of history to us for the last ten years, provides a chronological listing of every movie Nixon watched in the White House.

The excerpt is published here, under the brilliant title What Nixon Saw and When He Saw It.

For the benefit of those too young or uninterested to know or care, Richard Nixon was our President from 1969 through 1974. His fatal flaws of character caused him to be the first American President hounded from office. The scandal created something like a brief shining moment for Congress and the Press. Nixon was a fascinating man, driven by insecurities and class-based jealousy, particularly as concerned the eastern elite, embodied by the richer, better-looking, better-liked JFK, who beat him in the Presidential election of 1960 and whose ghost haunted him thereafter.

So, Nixon's film watching history is not just the record of a chief executive's movie tastes, it is in a way, a visible protrusion of the unconscious forces that may have been at work in Nixon's always inscrutable mind. Why, for instance, did he watch the big-budget piece of fluff AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS three times, including on his last movie night as President? During those dark Final Days when he contemplated suicide, did he respond in any special way to IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE?

As a joining-place between history and film, this is a singularly fascinating resource. Close friend of AFS Zack McGhee has compiled an easier to access Letterboxd list of the films - it's a work in progress, with a few occasional wrong matches, but it should be proofed and complete soon.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Richard Linklater on SID & NANCY

Somehow, our Jewels In The Wasteland II series is almost over. It seems like it just started. It's been a really special year, and AFS Artistic Director Richard Linklater has pledged to do it again next year as well - next year the focus will be on the years 1987-1989. One of the ones we were all most excited to see on the big screen again was Alex Cox' SID & NANCY (1986), and sure enough it proved to be even better than we all remembered.

Here's Linklater's introduction and the post-movie discussion from our SID & NANCY screening.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

5 Questions With New AFS Artist-Services Manager Iliana Sosa

The Austin Film Society has a new Artist Services Manager, Iliana Sosa. Artist Services is a particularly important part of what we do here at AFS every day, encompassing the AFS Grant, Works-In-Progress, Fiscal Sponsorships, Artist Development and much more.

We're happy to welcome Iliana, and we know that many of you will be working with her on a regular basis moving forward. Here's a brief introduction to Iliana and a little more information about the programs she administers.

1. Tell us about your background and your career before coming to AFS.

I went to film school at UCLA and received my MFA in film production. I have produced and directed several shorts and features before joining AFS and most recently worked as an associate producer for Relativity Television. I have also worked as a video producer for non-profits, including Brave New Foundation. 

2. What interests you about artist support programs?

I am most interested in having the opportunity to meet different artists and hear how they got interested in making films. I am also interested in seeing how I can help filmmakers accomplish their goals. I have certainly been there when I first started and would have liked to have had a support system to reach out to. I hope to be that support system for filmmakers. 

3. What were your career highlights before joining AFS?

One of my career highlights was when my MFA thesis short, Child of the Desert, won Best Short Film at the 2012 USA Film Festival--which in turn made it eligible to compete in the short film Oscar competition. I also had the opportunity to work with Dale Dickey, who is the lead in the film. She was truly an amazing actor to work with. My other career highlight was when I had the opportunity to work with Josefina Lopez (writer of Real Women Have Curves) and direct a play she wrote into a feature called Detained in the Desert.

4. What's the most exciting thing about this move - both geographically and career-wise?

I am excited to be back in my home state. I grew up in El Paso, Texas. Texas is home. Career wise, I am excited to have the opportunity to support a diverse group of filmmakers and be part of the supportive environment at AFS. I am also really excited to be a part of the growing film community in Austin.  

5. How can filmmakers find out which AFS programs may be of assistance to them?

Filmmakers can check out the AFS website and check out the tab labeled Artist Services. An important upcoming deadline is the AFS grant which is due June 2. They are also welcome to email me at iliana (at) We can provide assistance with questions on the Works in Progress programs and the fiscal sponsorship program we offer. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Resource Alert: A Dynamically Updated Calendar of Every Repertory Screening In Austin!

The repertory filmgoing scene in Austin is perhaps at its highest ebb ever, with screenings going on in multiple venues, many of those screenings in 35mm, and lots of opportunities to see classic films, horror and exploitation titles, and off-the-wall content on the big screen.
Zack McGhee cuts a familiar, tall figure at many of these screenings and now he has developed a new page that displays an ongoing schedule of the next 3 weeks of screenings in Austin. For those who plan their lives around movies, it's pretty close to invaluable resource, and one I already don't know how I ever lived without.

Here it is: use it wisely.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

An Introduction to Satyajit Ray by the Man Himself

Currently a new restoration of Satyajit Ray's APU trilogy is making the rounds. It will play here in Austin at the Marchesa in July. This compilation of interview segments with the master filmmaker makes a fine (and exhaustive) introduction to his art and techniques. There is always much to learn from a genius and frequently when we expose ourselves to a genius' thought and thought patterns we may find a little of it rubbing off on us.

Ray's technique of planning (and selling) his films with gouache paintings is enlightening, both as an interesting method and also as an explanation for some of his aesthetic choices. Also, his thoughts on the necessity of changing literary texts when adapting them for the screen are interesting. These are sentiments we have heard before but Ray expresses them so thoughtfully and with such precise language.

If you are learning filmmaking or just becoming acquainted with Ray and his films, it's a good place to start.

Monday, May 18, 2015

It's Frank Capra's Birthday: Watch His Funny and Touching Lifetime Achievement Award Speech

Nobody embodied American ideals more than Sicilian immigrant turned official American myth-maker Frank Capra. In celebration of his 108th birth anniversary, here is his 1982 AFI Lifetime Achievement Award presentation, with James Stewart (who just kills at this sort of thing), Donna Reed, and then Capra himself. The great man's flair for the dramatic, the comic and the heartfelt did not desert him in his old age and he uses it all here, thanking his family, collaborators, and, with tears in his eyes, his departed parents who brought him to America from Sicily.

To young filmmakers he says emphatically:

"Don't follow trends. Start trends. Don't compromise. Believe in yourself. Because only the valiant can create. Only the daring should make films. And only the morally courageous are worthy of speaking to their fellow man for two hours and in the dark."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chale Nafus Presents an Essential Primer on Experimental Filmmaker Jon Jost - See his Films May 18 & 19

Jon Jost will join AFS for a pair of special Avant Cinema Screenings May 18 and 19.

On Monday, May 18, Jost presents COMING TO TERMS (2013) and on Tuesday, May 19 he presents LAST CHANTS FOR A SLOW DANCE (1977). These screenings are co-presented by Experimental Response Cinema.

Here is AFS Director of Programming Chale Nafus with a preview of the series:

Experimental filmmaker Jon Jost was already “on the road” as a child moving from army base to base with his parents, both in the US and abroad. Expelled from college in 1963 moved to Italy where he made his first cinematic efforts. But it was the Vietnam War era and, unlike his father during WW2, Jon chose not to serve. The American judicial system thought otherwise and let him serve 27 months for draft “avoidance.” After his release he returned to protesting the war, but this time through making films for anti-war media organizations Newsreel and New Left Films.

Once the war had ended and Watergate had swept the Nixon presidency into history, Jost turned to less overtly political but more experimental filmmaking. 1974 brought the production and release of his $2000 film, LAST CHANTS FOR A SLOW DANCE, a portrait of a man who shouldn’t be married and shouldn’t have kids, since he prefers spending most of his time away from home. He’s a Hank Williams drifter with a pickup and a self-absorbed spiel for any hitchhiker unfortunate enough to accept a ride.

Jost made this a film of nighttime, a nighttime of Montana seen through a pitch black windshield only occasionally pin-pricked with light from a solitary ranch house or a bump-in-the-road town, a nighttime of bars, diners, and bedrooms, and a nighttime of an ever darkening soul.

Tom, once he takes time off from aimlessly driving, becomes a bar stool philosopher around men, but when a woman comes into the picture, we can see exactly how he must have met and bedded his present wife Darlene two-kids-ago. He and his latest barroom pick-up have sex at her place while Johnny Carson gently holds forth in the other room. A post-coitus phone call to his wife takes Tom’s misogyny to a new low.

This meandering, directionless road will eventually have to end and only Jon Jost would have the brilliant idea to show Tom being inspired by post office “Wanted” posters. LAST CHANTS FOR A SLOW DANCE was a brilliant feature film debut for the 31-year-old filmmaker. No wonder Rick Linklater included it in early AFS screenings.

During the intervening 40 years, Jost has made 38 feature-length films and more than 30 shorts, while creating installations, painting, writing, and composing/playing country-and-western music. He never tried to break into mainstream American film but enjoyed a special reputation in the US and abroad. His films have shown primarily in film festivals and retrospectives/special screenings in all the welcoming spots in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston, Austin (of course), Vienna, Berlin, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Israel, and South Korea, where he taught for four years. Wherever he showed his films, he often lived for months or longer, once more picking up the rhythms of his “army brat” childhood.

His most recently completed feature film, COMING TO TERMS (2012), is just as audaciously adventuresome as his first, if more maturely classical in look with its series of lengthy, observational shots. As if to test his audience early on, he presents a 5-minute sequence of a man (Jost’s long-time friend and fellow filmmaker James Benning) eating soup out of a skillet. We know nothing about the man other than his approximate age and the fact that he wears a plaid shirt in a rustic kitchen. But the audience’s patience will be rewarded once the soup is finished.

It is four other people, seen in close-up, often two in the frame, not facing one another, who tell us about the man. The middle-aged (or beyond) women talk of their marriages to the man. The two young men, his sons, one per woman, reveal the divergent paths they have taken – one is gay and the other is an evangelical pastor. No one thinks kindly of the man – the father, the husband – who was a cold, distant, affectless man, a surveyor measuring out the wide-open spaces for developers to cut up and sell. His job in the vastness of the Montana landscape got him out of the house, away from his family, and into the natural world he loved. But he began to realize that he was participating in its destruction, just as he had destroyed two marriages and connections with his two sons. Now, he wishes to make one final journey to a secluded spot in the beloved woods, but he wishes to have his separate families with him. In a Hollywood film the man would gather his disconnected relations together in order to explain his actions and ask for forgiveness. But in Jost’s film world, the man only admits to being ashamed of his gay son and disgusted with the religious one and that maybe he loved one woman more than the other. What he mainly wants from them is assistance with his suicide. He will leave as much pain behind after death as during his life.

Jost chose to intersperse this family drama with beautiful shots of the countryside, especially of trees and rock strata changing with shifting sunlight. The “reality” before our eyes is often shifting and changing its meaning. His Buddhist explorations of time and sunlight remind us that only change is constant. Through beautifully realized dissolves we see the man merging with nature, as we all will eventually do.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Strange Case Of Jess Franco

Jess Franco

Jesús Franco Manera (1930-2013), better known to most of us as Jess Franco (and also by dozens of other pseudonyms), was perhaps the most prolific filmmaker of modern times. By IMDB's count he made 195 feature films. During his peak period he averaged 9 films per year.

But his volume of output is only part of the story. Franco's films have a large and growing following because of Franco's unique cinematic vision. Many see nothing in Franco's films beyond a tangle of horror film paraphernalia, naked bodies, snap zooms, jazz music and art film in-jokes, but the value of Franco's films lies in his unique eye, which finds photographic beauty and musical reverie in these elements.

Janine Reynaud and Howard Vernon in SUCCUBUS (also known as NECRONOMICON)

Fritz Lang called Franco's SUCCUBUS "the first erotic film I've seen all the way through because it's a beautiful piece of cinema". Orson Welles chose Franco to be his Spanish assistant director on the strength of one of Franco's surreal, pulpy crime thrillers - much to the horror of the Madrid establishment who scorned Franco.

Two of Franco's best films, VAMPYROS LESBOS and SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY (both 1971) have been restored by Severin Films. AFS will present the new versions in screenings this month. They are also available on gorgeous, crystal-clear Blu-Ray transfers.

Soledad Miranda in VAMPYROS LESBOS

Both VAMPYROS LESBOS and SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY are from his period of working for producer Karl Heinz Mannchen (Franco periods are defined by his money men). Both star Franco's muse Soledad Miranda. Miranda had been kicking around the film industry for ten years, mainly in decorative roles but Franco saw in her a goddess of psychedelic perversity. To compare a Soledad Miranda appearance in a non-Franco film with her work in these two films is to understand some of Franco's particular genius. It's not just that she has beauty, it's that the enhancement of that beauty with mystical power, creates a kind of beauty that becomes art, even if viewed in a tatty skid row adult theater.

A publicity shot from VAMPYROS LESBOS

VAMPYROS LESBOS and SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY also benefit from their legendary soundtracks, created by Manfred Hübler, Siegfried Schwab and Franco himself, a pretty fair composer and pianist. The score is brimming with wah-wah guitar, boogaloo basslines, bright horns and misterioso vocals. It's the perfect accompaniment to Franco's almost avant-garde visuals.

Here's a sample of the soundtrack:

The screenings take place at AFS @ The Marchesa Theatre. VAMPYROS LESBOS screens Friday, May 15. SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY screens Friday May 22 and both screen as a double feature on Sunday May 24.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Richard Linklater on Richard Pryor's JO JO DANCER, YOUR LIFE IS CALLING

Our 10-Film Jewels In The Wasteland II series, hosted by AFS Founder and Artistic Director Richard Linklater, continues through June 3. Here, Linklater introduces and discusses Richard Pryor's extremely personal autobiographical 1986 film JO JO DANCER, YOUR LIFE IS CALLING.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Celebrate Saul Bass' Birthday With Some of His Best Title Sequences

Graphic designer and filmmaker Saul Bass was born on this day in 1920 and died in 1996. It's hard to think of a designer whose impact has been so profound of the art of motion pictures. In the '50s his modern design style lent itself well to the design of movie posters. Director Otto Preminger was so impressed with the young man that he asked him to take a stab at creating animated graphics for his films CARMEN JONES and later THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM.

Bass' acclaim spread widely and soon Alfred Hitchcock hired him to create sequences for several iconic films. His VERTIGO sequence is perhaps his best work to date.

Here, for John Frankenheimer's eerie SECONDS, Bass stretches and morphs faces in keeping with the film's plastic surgery-based plot.

He also made title sequences that relied more on live action and clever cuts rather than animated graphical elements. Here are a couple of the best of those.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Watch Francis Ford Coppola and Akira Kurosawa Booze It Up Suntory-Style

"The world's gaze is fixed on these two men right now, as on nobody else."

In 1979, Akira Kurosawa, with an assist from superfan George Lucas, got the green light from 20th Century Fox to produce his epic film KAGEMUSHA. Lucas then brought in his own mentor, Francis Ford Coppola, to act as co-producer. The rest is history. After some production hiccups, the film was made and became an international commercial and critical success.

While filming KAGEMUSHA, Kurosawa and Coppola took time to make a commercial for the ubiquitous Suntory whiskey. Here's a whole string of them. Some are a little repetitive but it's fascinating watching these two masters clink glasses. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Eddie Muller Brings Noir City to the Ritz this Weekend

Ella Raines in a PHANTOM LADY still

It's a great time to be a moviegoer in Austin. AFS has the acclaimed new release SHE'S LOST CONTROL and the Hertzfeld/Plympton Animation Evening and our friends at the Ritz have something very special for fans of film noir.

This weekend the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz has a ludicrously rich 11-film program of Film Noir classics, rediscoveries and reappraisals programmed and hosted by the man we trust more about noir than anyone on earth, Eddie Muller.

Few, if any, of the titles in the series are household names. Muller is not interested in showing you things you know about already, instead this series guides you into the back alleys of noir film and, through Muller's entertaining and well-researched introductions, into the history of the ideas behind the films and their creators, many of whom had a front row seat to the spiritual and moral darkness that engulfed the world during the 20th century.

The Film Noir Foundation, of which Muller is Founder and President, is a non-profit group that sees to it that the film noir heritage is preserved in celluloid and in the history of American ideas.

All of the screenings are in 35mm, many of the prints have been restored and, in some cases, reconstructed from diverse elements by Muller and the Film Noir Foundation.

The schedule is here. This is a very special and important opportunity and not to be missed by any noir fan.

Monday, May 4, 2015

First Time Online: A 1991 Interview with Paul Schrader by Richard Linklater

In advance of next month's Jewels In The Wasteland finale, Paul Schrader's MISHIMA: A LIFE IN FOUR CHAPTERS (June 3). Here is AFS Artistic Director Richard Linklater interviewing Schrader in 1991.

Reprinted from The Austin Chronicle May 24, 1991


When the Chronicle asked if I'd be interested in doing a phone interview with Paul Schrader, I jumped at the chance. As the writer of some of the most important films in the last 15 years, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, among others, Schrader is a screenwriter with few equals. As a director, his credits are a list of some of this country's most consistently intelligent, provoking, and downright unnerving films: Blue Collar, Hardcore, American Gigolo, Cat People, Mishima, Light of Day, Patty Hearst, and most recently, the eerie and beautiful Comfort of Strangers, which opened here last week. Scripted by Harold Pinter from the novel by Ian McEwan, the film concerns a young English couple, Mary and Colin (Natasha Richardson and Rupert Everett); who while tourists in Venice fall under the influence of an older couple, Robert and Caroline (Christopher Walken, Helen Mirren). With five pages of notes, I had eager questions and comments on virtually every film he had ever been involved in. I imagined a long conversation that would cover everything, but on this day, he was very busy preparing to shoot his new film, Light Sleeper, which features Willem Dafoe and Susan Sarandon and begins rolling in New York next week.

AC: When I first heard what your new film was about, it didn't sound like your typical kind of material. It was only after seeing it that I realized you'd made your kind of film.

PS: This is very British, very Harold Pinter. A four-character piece and the only movie I've done where I didn't make a choice as to which character I was in favor of ... there's no protagonist. All four characters are equally complex, though Walken is sort of the bad guy.

AC: But I think these are very much your type of characters. Mary and Colin, as a couple, are fighting a certain emptiness in themselves and ultimately aren't in control of their lives, which could be said of many of your main characters.

PS: What I'm most proud of with the film is that when I came to it there were already two artists involved with strong and distinct signatures (Pinter and McEwan). Each has a body of work unlike anyone else's. One of my goals in the directing of it was to not obliterate their signatures. Both Ian and Harold really like the film and still feel very possessorly of it and that made me feel very good.

AC: It seemed like a fun film for you both visually and narratively...

PS: It helps to have four good actors. I didn't have to worry about coverage as much or whether they could hit their marks with all the moving camera shots and still give the right performance. It makes life so much easier.

AC: It's a perfect cast: Walken is becoming some sort of national treasure.

PS: They were all there in service of the text, not at the service of some public relations agency.

AC: It's a strong story, but it's also one of your most interesting films visually. It has a quality that leaves plenty of room for that "other" thing that gets everybody thinking.

PS: This movie doesn't give itself up in the first 15 minutes: it holds a lot back, which is why it's an art house kind of movie for a more intellectual audience. Most American films tell the audience what they're going to do, do it, and tell them what they did, and of course never ask them for an opinion. There is a lot of this movie that simply doesn't give itself to the viewer, the viewer has to come to conclusions, right or wrong, about what's going on.

AC: It has an almost dream-state logic, sort of like Cat People.

PS: Maybe a lot of that comes from the dolly movement and never coming back to the same angle twice: so it's always a sort of new film. And Venice adds a certain ambience.

AC: You seem to be working less and less under the studios. To make the films you want to make, do you see yourself thinking in terms of these kinds of international productions?

PS: Yes. This new film (Light Sleeper) was originally going to be financed by the French, but a the last minute, as they were dragging their feet, I managed to pull an American rabbit out of a hat from a company that originally turned it down.

AC: If you were starting out today, would you still go to Los Angeles?

PS: I think you still need to bring in in L.A. -- the home of international cinema. Hollywood cinema is international cinema. As soon as anyone gets big in international cinema, they come to Hollywood to make movies. They don't make international movies in Europe.

AC: What do you feel about the "movie brat" generation you came up with -- that first wave of directors out of film schools who came to prominence in the '70s?

PS: I think a lot of the people we came  up with have become a little disappointing as they reached middle age. The fire went out. I escaped that inevitable "rusting of the sabre" because, at a critical juncture, I escaped and now I live in New York. But, directors like Scorsese, Coppola, Phil Kaufman, Lynch are every bit out there. They should be -- succeed or fail. The others... if you start making kid's movies in your twenties, if you keep trying to make those same kid's movies in your forties, it gets a little hard because not only do you not know the kids anymore, you're also fighting the demographics of your own sensibilities.

AC: In interviews I've read, you always seem to have a very healthy, non-bitter attitude toward not only the system, but to the whole collaborative process that is film making. You're the only person who comes to mind that has not only written and directed his own films, but also written for others and directed from other's scripts.

PS: I've been fortunate in that I've always finagled a way to get things I really cared about done. I really wanted to see Last Temptation and Mishima made and got them made. This latest project, I started financing on my own, after it was turned down by 27 people. I'm over $300,000 into the picture, which is everything I have, so: (laughs) it gets a little chancy. That's Coppola's theory too -- just pretend you're making a movie... if you pretend long enough, someone will believe you.

AC: Why is Light Sleeper a difficult film to finance?

PS: All the heroes are drug dealers.

AC: Isn't that somewhat marketable? What about New Jack City?

PS: They think of that as more of a Black action picture. And the protagonists are the cops. In Light Sleeper, the protagonists are the drug dealers and there aren't any cops. It's the mid-life crisis of a drug runner.

AC: Sounds great.

PS: It's this perverse thing: (almost sinister laughter) I try to find the least sympathetic character in Society, the most socially despicable, be it an assassin (Taxi Driver), a male prostitute (American Gigolo), a drug runner, and I say, "Here is our hero."

AC: Taxi Driver is such an important film to me personally and I've always identified with Travis so clearly it's hard to have much perspective on how messed-up he really is. I watched it recently with the sound off just to try to get a little distance and the movie now seems, along with Psycho, one of the most perverse tricks in cinema history. He's such a sympathetic, lonely character -- who couldn't relate to that? Soon we realize we're in the head of, and rooting for, a moralizing psychotic. But it does best what cinema can do naturally, pull in an audience that is longing for someone to identify with.

PS: The trick is to get the audience deep enough in and by the time they realize they don't want to identify with the protagonist, they're interested in how it's going to turn out. One of the things I said to Scorsese at the time is that there can not a scene that is not from the Taxi Driver's point of view. The minute you admit to the audience that there is another point of view in life, they will not like this guy. One of the mistakes Marty made with The King Of Comedy is that he showed you Jerry Lewis' reality instead of only Rupert's reality. Once you get out of Rupert's skin, you judge him (both laugh).

AC: And Travis doesn't have to be in New York City. He's obviously not from there:

PS: It's a hell of his own making. . . 

Rick Linklater directed the locally made movie Slacker, set to open nationally on July 5.

Special thanks to Marjorie Baumgarten for tracking this piece down and to Kati Mellor for transcribing from a rough photocopy.

All Rights Reserved, Copyright Austin Chronicle Corporation.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Hedy Lamarr: Inventor of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Technology

If you know the name Hedy Lamarr , you probably know her as an actress whose overt display of nudity and sexuality in the 1933 film ECSTASY helped to solidify the connection between art-films and forbidden subjects for American audiences. Upon immigrating to America, she became a major Hollywood star, and remained so for years. 

She was also a hobbyist inventor who, in 1941, with avant-garde composer George Antheil, came up with an ingenious way to guide Allied naval torpedoes. Radio control had already been used to guide the trajectory of torpedoes fired from ships and submarines, but Axis scientists easily found a way to jam the signal and misdirect the fire.

Lamarr and Antheil had the idea that a code might be created that is similar to the markings on a player piano roll, a code of such complexity that it could not be decoded without access to a very specific algorithm. The two patented the idea and, though it was not used by Allied forces during the war, it attracted considerable interest later. The technology (called Spread Spectrum) evolved into the mechanism we now use for encoded wi-fi and Bluetooth transmission.

Here is the patent for Spread Spectrum, also known as Secret Communication technology, in case you ever want to build an encoded guidance system of your own. FYI: Hedy's real name, Hedy Kiesler Markey is the name that appears on the patent.