Animated Short of the Week – The Tell-Tale Heart
The Tell-Tale Heart (1953)
Dir. Ted Parmelee
This week I’ve picked a film that has likely been seen by many of you, yet this is a prime example of the mind-boggling entity that is Youtube. This film has a history with me, as I originally viewed it in a 7th Grade English class of all places, as one of those “Bah, it’s Friday, watch a movie and shut up” toss-offs. While the rest of the class, and I do mean the whole thing, slept or doodled, I watched with rapt attention at this stunning piece of animation. I admired Poe greatly at the time, as much as you can admire something when you’re 12 (though, really, couldn’t hold a candle to my true masters – Monty Python), but hadn’t seen an adaptation of his work worth a damn. Hell, I even managed to rent a couple of duds from the video store, some incredibly gruesome for me to watch (such as The Pit and the Pendulum), but nothing did him justice. (That being said, I have since loved the hell out of the Corman/Price adaptations of Poe.) Therefore, it was quite a shock to stumble across this short piece and marvel at the attention to detail and gothic style (ok, that part I probably didn’t catch on to yet), and at school nonetheless. Plus, the James Mason narration is killer.
So when I really got into film, guess what I tried to hunt down? Aside from a fairly cryptic IMDB entry, this film was as hard as they came to find. I hoped Cartoon Network would give it a shot, but no. I searched over public and community college libraries for a decrepit VHS copy; again, no. When file-sharing came around, and internet video finally becoming somewhat of a possibility, I found all sorts of obscurities on networks like Kazaa; but again, not a trace. And then, out of nowhere, I hear the announcement for the 2-disc Hellboy DVD, a movie I quite enjoyed. Looking through the features, I was sold. But then, a couple of weeks later, it’s announced that Guillermo del Toro has tacked on something called “From the Den: Hellboy Recommends”, and lo and behold, there’s the UPA production of The Tell-Tale Heart, sitting alongside another favorite, “Gerald McBoing-Boing”… This was huge. And yet, we then get to youtube, and the freakin’ film has over 300,000 views! So much for obscurity, and you know what, us film buffs are better for it.
(At least in this regard; there’s countless reasons why it’s horrible too…)
Anyways, enough ranting, on with the film. It still holds up, trust me.