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The Tell-Tale Heart (I) (1953)

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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,112 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 4 critic

A madman tells his tale of murder, and how a strange beating sound haunted him afterward.



(story), (story), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Tell-Tale Heart (1953)

The Tell-Tale Heart (1953) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »


Credited cast:
Narrator (voice)


One of the most discussed and imaginative cartoons of any era. It tells the famous Edgar Allan Poe story of the deranged boarder who had to kill his landlord, not for greed, but because he possessed an "evil eye." The killer is never seen but his presence is felt by the use light-and-shadow to give the impression of impending disaster. According to UPA, the art style was derived from Eugene Berman, scenic designer and ballet designer of NYC's Metropolitan Opera. Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

landlord | eye | murder | killer | police | See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 December 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Tell-Tale Heart  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


The first animated short film to be rated X by the British Film Board of Censors. See more »


Narrator: True, I'm nervous. Very, very dreadfully nervous. But why would you say that I'm mad? See how calmly, how precisely I can tell the story to you. Listen. It starts with the old man. And old man in an old house. A good man, I suppose. He didn't harm me, I didn't want his gold, if gold there was. Then what was it? I think... I think it was... his eye. Yes, that eye, the eye. That. His eye staring. Milky white film. The eye, everywhere, in everything! Of course I had to get rid of the eye.
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Featured in Hellboy (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

Picture Perfect Poe
18 August 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

An English teacher whose taste I generally respected despised this film. As a word person, she was no doubt bothered by the compression and elimination of so much of Poe's carefully wrought language.

But she overlooked one thing, in my estimation. Poe said everything in a short story should be toward one effect, and certainly, there has been no better attempt on film to achieve the kind of formal and emotional control Poe suggested was the story teller's goal than this animated short. She should have appreciated that.

The control of tone, light and color palette here is complete; the actors are hand-crafted; the voices and music are expertly orchestrated as in great radio drama; best of all, nothing extraneous or distracting seeps through at any point. (We clearly see only one face during this short. We never see the narrator, but see all that happens through a subjective camera.) While there is a ton of ham bone melodrama and story padding in Corman's Poe films, this film achieves just the right pitch, delicate and disturbing, maintains it, and then finishes simply. In today's context, UPA's Tell-Tale seems slightly dry, if not downright academic; Corman's films evoke not only Hollywood, with all that means, but low budget film making and drive-in culture as well.

I believe Poe would have appreciated UPA's effort and encouraged them to try others, like Cask of Amontillado and Masque. Given the chance, I think he'd have liked to tell Corman to just quit it.

10 stars. One of the great cartoons, ever.

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