'Rose Hobart' - a Film by Joseph Cornell Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'Rose Hobart' - a Film by Joseph Cornell

2 Conversations

The Artist

Joseph Cornell (1903-1972) was a self-taught American artist. He is best known for his boxes, assemblages of photographs, small objects and suchlike arranged in a box, with a glass top. These almost surreal little collections of disparate, juxtaposed objects have a quiet poetry about them. Though not all critics describe Cornell's work as surrealist, he was acquainted with several artists from that movement; his boxes are more understated than most surrealist works.

Cornell did, however, experiment with other media, and in 1936 produced a short film entitled Rose Hobart.

The Subject

Rose Hobart (1906-2000) was an actress on stage, screen and television. She first entered films in 1930, when sound had just taken hold of the film industry and actors who could read lines were important. She played lead and supporting roles through the '30s and '40s.

Her career in films was cut short in 1949, when, because of her work on behalf of the Screen Actor's Guild, she was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and was accused of being a Communist. She refused to testify or incriminate any of her colleagues. Although she found work in television during the '50s and '60s, appearing in The Danny Thomas Show, Peyton Place and Gunsmoke among others, her professional life was in permanent decline. She remained of sound mind until her death, at the age of 94.

The Result

Cornell's film combined two disparate elements to create a new, unusual whole, a process not unlike that used in his boxes. To achieve this, he went to a warehouse where he could buy motion pictures that were damaged or otherwise being sold by weight for scrap - perhaps to be rendered down for the silver content in the film. From this warehouse he bought a print of the 1931 film East of Borneo, directed by George Melford and starring Rose Hobart, Charles Bickford and George Renavent. He then edited the film down to 20 minutes of select scenes, most of them featuring Hobart. He then purchased a number of samba records, cheaply. He replaced the films soundtrack with these records, creating an almost surreal mix of the South American music with the Hollywood-Asian settings1.

Related Links

1East of Borneo is described by modern critics as a turgid, talky melodrama - so Cornell's film is seen as a great improvement.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Edited Entry


Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Categorised In:

Written by


h2g2 Entries

External Links

Not Panicking Ltd is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more