TITLE: The Tell-Tale Heart
YEAR RELEASED: 1960
DIRECTOR: Ernest Morris
CAST: Laurence Payne, Adrienne Corri and Dermot Walsh
ANN O’REGAN calls The Tell-Tale Heart (1960) “a very loose interpretation of the Edgar Allan Poe classic short story”
“…Close your eyes and don not look at the screen again until it stops” are the opening words of this black and white low budget production. A warning of impending terror or advice not to waste 78 minutes of your life on a marginally risqué adaptation for the big screen?
A very loose interpretation of the Edgar Allan Poe classic short story, it does a fair job of providing an insight into the writer’s descent into an erratic and troubled state of mind.
The main character of Edgar Marsh, an introvert with voyeuristic tendencies is played quite well, if not hammed up somewhat by Laurence Payne.
Edgar’s attentions fall to Adrienne Corri’s Betty Clare, who is uncomfortable with his advances, however, he showers her with gifts in an effort to win her touch and believes they have a future.
The triangle is complete when a friend Carl (Dermot Walsh) begins a relationship with Betty Clare and Edgar becomes enraged with jealousy.
In order to be the sole recipient of her love, Edgar beats Carl to death with a poker and buries him beneath the floorboards under the piano.
What follows is essentially a view of one man’s decline into madness and obsession, as Edgar believes the dead man’s heart is still beating and can be seen and heard everywhere in the inanimate objects around him.
They rock and tick like a pulsating heart, with particular attention on the eerie ticking of the metronome.
This continued assault on Edgar’s senses lead to a complete breakdown culminating in a gruesome and desperate act of violence against the dead.
It was always going to be difficult to turn such a short story into a full length feature film and the storyline is so patchy and drawn out as a result, to call it a slow-burner would be too complimentary.
Technically the audio is atrocious and to call the music ‘background’ is a joke as the dialogue can barely be heard above it.
Add this to mediocre performances, and poor film quality, The Tell-Tale Heart became a test of endurance as we are lead to less of a twist and more of a dodge at the finish.
The next time a film advises me to keep my eyes closed until it stops, I will take heed and simply listen to the gentle tick of a metronome.
ANN O’REGAN is The Spooky Isles’ Ireland Correspondent. She is a writer living in the Mid-West of Ireland after spending many years in London. She is a paranormal enthusiast with a passion for folklore, spooky tales and the dark histories of buildings and places, which she loves to visit and explore.
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