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The Tell-Tale Heart (1941)
Maddening Adaptation of Poe Classic Fails on Many Levels
This is an appallingly horrible adaptation on so many levels. It's shameful what they did to Poe's perfect story of insanity, delusion, paranoia, and guilt. ALL of that is missing from this short 20-minute film. (**SPOILERS** ahead for anyone who might not know the story.) First, they changed the whole beginning to justify the murder and make the killer slightly sympathetic on some level ~ and make the victim UNsympathetic. The crazy, irrational premeditation is totally missing from the film. Secondly, there is no sense of foreboding and no terror. No suspense; no creepy internal monologue; no dread. The police in this film arrive already suspicious, which makes no sense and doesn't work at all. This misses the whole point of the story and is a critical FAIL! Lastly (and most importantly), the film has totally cast away all of Poe's brilliant words and syntax. There are sentences and phrases I still remember to this day that are not even given lip service in the film! Ridiculous! Yes, film adaptations take liberties and make changes for a different medium, but to completely dismiss almost everything from the source material is almost a worse crime than the cold-blooded murder in the story! (I kid.) They don't even use the final line of the story, which is one of the great lines in literature. They changed it to some bland, watered-down line that has none of the chilling punch of the story. If you've never read the Poe story, I probably sound as crazy as the protagonist to you right now, but if you have read the story and cherish it as much as I do, I'm sure you'll feel my pain.