The Tell-Tale Heart (1953) Poster

(I) (1953)


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  • The first title card reads:The film you are about to see is based on a story told a hundred years ago by America's greatest master of drama and suspense.......The second card reads:The story is told through the eyes of a madman.........who, like all of us, believed that he was sane.These title cards appear before the opening credits. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Motion Picture Exhibitor, a publication aimed at theater owners, wrote:This much-discussed cartoon should have a wide appeal because of its highly imaginative art style. It tells the famous Edgar Allan Poe story of the maniac who had to kill an old man, not for greed, but because he possessed an 'evil eye.' The technique involved in spinning the eerie yarn is original, daring, and expressive. The whole thing is done in sketches, with the maniac never actually appearing. However, his presence is doubly felt by the use of light and shadow to give the effect of impending disaster. The art style is derived from Eugene Berman, scenic designer and ballet designer of the Metropolitan Opera. This is on the same high level as other UPA offerings. James Mason narrates, and the film was produced by Stephan Bosustow and directed by Ted Parmelee. Paul Julian was art designer.Leonard Maltin, who quoted this passage in his book Of Mice and Magic, notes that "[f]or the blasé reviewer of this trade publication to single out director and designer for crediting in a cartoon was no small triumph. It was just another indication of the respect and admiration that UPA cartoons commanded, even in the strictly-business world of film distribution. The Tell-Tale Heart was not just another cartoon, to be treated the same way as the new Heckle and Jeckle release. It generated feature-caliber reviews and publicity--and had independent marquee value. James Mason's name on the film also gave it an extra boost."

    Source: Leonard Maltin, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, NY, 1987, pp. 335, 336 Edit (Coming Soon)

  • No. For years The Tell-Tale Heart was rumored to have been in 3-D. Initial trade magazines listed the short as going into production in 3-D, but nothing ever came of it. And according to Grover Crisp, the head of the restoration unit at Sony/Columbia, the original negative bears no markings that would indicate the film had any 3-D origins.

    Several collectors remember that Super8 mm editions of the film were incorrectly labeled with 3-D stickers along with other Columbia shorts that really were in 3-D. That may have started this false rumor.

    Leonard Maltin tells a slightly different story: "This short was specially photographed to achieve a 3-D effect. This was at the height of the 3-D craze, when Bosustow, like many other cartoon producers, thought the new gimmick would revolutionize motion pictures. Needless to say, it did not, and The Tell-Tale Heart was never released in that format."

    In any case, whether the film was shot in 3-D or not, it was not released that way ever.

    Sources include: ibid, p. 336 Edit (Coming Soon)

  • He wrote:Seen today, The Tell-Tale Heart remains stylistically impressive, although as an adaptation of Poe it has been eclipsed by the Zagreb Studio's stunning and somber Masque of the Red Death. The Tell-Tale Heart's biggest problem is pacing; it moves just a bit too quickly to realize the full potential of its eerie narrative. It is one instance in which seven minutes was too short a time to do the job. Steve Bosustow remembers, with some pain, that audiences laughed when they first saw this film. The problem was not just pre-conditioning, but the cartoon's inability to draw viewers into its dramatic world in such a fast-paced manner.Source: ibid, p. 336 Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Watch The Tell-Tale Heart (1953) on:

    YouTube (posted by jmcusack) here. Edit (Coming Soon)


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