2002, 55 Minutes
The mysterious origins of 1930s Hollywood star, Merle Oberon.
Merle Oberon was one of the biggest movie stars of the 1930s and 1940s. Studio publicists said she was born into a wealthy family in Hobart, Tasmania - Australia's island state. Yet the rumour was that the exotic almond-eyed actress concealed her true past. It was said she was actually "oriental", perhaps Anglo-Indian, and born in Calcutta.
But in Tasmania, many remain convinced she was their island's most famous daughter, born not to wealthy parents but to a Chinese hotel worker and her married employer.
The Trouble with Merle looks at celebrity, memory, identity, race and class...and at why Merle Oberon's origins mattered to people on a tiny island, in a country at the bottom of the world.
A Film Australia National Interest Program in association with SeeView Pictures. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
SEE ALSO National Film and Sound Archive blog post Merle Oberon: The Lost Tasmanian
Director/Writer: Marée Delofski
Running Time: 55 Minutes
Classification: Exempt from classification
Curriculum Links: Creative Arts; Drama; Studies of Society and Environment; Film, Cinema and Screen Studies.
Celluloid Heroes: OK for Sound (1928-1948)