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Norman Z. McLeod
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Adapted from the story by Edgar Allan Poe: A young man is being dominated, insulted, and mistreated by the older man whose lodgings he shares. Finally, one night he enters the older man's room and kills him. Afterwards, the young man grows increasingly nervous, and he becomes convinced that he can still hear the dead man's heart beating. Written by
A much abused young man, driven to desperation & murder, hears his conscience rebel in the beating of THE TELL-TALE HEART.
Edgar Allen Poe's story is turned into a short subject gem, with the magnificent performance of Joseph Schildkraut & the inspired direction of Jules Dassin. This is a prime example of what can be done in a very limited time frame - here, 20 minutes - when inspiration & bravado are used to interpret a great story. The original has been altered & expanded somewhat to explain more fully the reasons for the murder and to create sympathy for the killer. Schildkraut's depiction of growing guilt & Dassin's creation of an oppressive atmosphere do the story more than justice.
Dassin would go on to become a celebrated features director. Schildkraut, already an Oscar winner, would enliven cinema & television roles with his talent for many years.
Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
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