1935 July 27

“Ecstasy” is Burning!


Federal agents on this day burned the only copy in the U.S. of the Czechoslovakian film Ecstasy, starring Hedy Lamarr, which was judged obscene and banned in the U.S. All that remained of the film, valued at $5,000, was a pile of smoking ashes.The film was burned while an appeal of the federal district court obscenity decision was still pending. Censored versions of the film were subsequently shown in the U.S., and the original version was not granted a license in New York state until 1940.

While the film contains a scene of young women swimming nude early in the film, in a long shot, through trees with no close-ups, the New York state censorship board particularly objected to a close-up of Hedy Lamarr’s face while she was having an orgasm later in the film. Watch the film and decide for yourself.

Hedy Lamarr also had a remarkable scientific career (see the book Hedy’s Folly, below). She helped develop a procedure to facilitate guiding torpedoes to their targets without being disrupted by enemy ship radio signals

Learn about Ecstasy at IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0022867/

Read Hedy Lamarr’s Memoirs: Hedy Lamarr, Ecstasy and Me: My Life As A Woman (1966)

Read about her fascinating career as an inventor: Richard Rhodes, Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, The Most Beautiful Woman in the World (2011)

Learn more about film censorship in the 1930s: Frank Walsh, Sin and Censorship: The Catholic Church and the Motion Picture Industry (1996)

Learn more about Hedy Lamarr at the National Women’s History Museum: https://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/hedy-lamarr/

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