The Tell-Tale Heart (1960)

Article #1061 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-9-2004
Posting Date: 7-8-2004
Directed by Ernest Morris
Featuring Laurence Payne, Adrienne Corri, Dermot Walsh

A disturbed man becomes obsessed with a woman who lives in the next house, but she has eyes for his best friend.

“The Tell-Tale Heart” is a great little story by Poe. I’ve always felt the best element of the story was not the horrific heart-beating-under-the-floorboards concept, but the fact that the murderer is so confident and cocky that he isn’t even aware at how his own madness brings him down. I’d love to see a version of this story that retains that character, and I’m sure there are a few out there somewhere. This version has some very atmospheric moments and a couple of good shock scenes in the second half, but I have real problems with it as a whole. In order to expand the movie to full-length, the story ends up relying on the most unoriginal of storylines, that of the romantic triangle. Once the woman meets her boyfriend’s good-looking best friend, I knew exactly where the story would be going for the next thirty minutes. The movie also loses points for its lack of subtlety; for one thing, after the movie establishes that the woman has a thing for the handsome friend, it belabors the point for ten minutes; just how many times do we need to see the woman staring intently at the friend before we get the picture? Payne’s performance as the disturbed young man would have been better had it been given a greater variety of reactions; as it is, I really get tired of the incessant closeups of his sweaty insane face and his throwing inanimate objects around. And as for the “twist ending”, it’s the type of thing for which I invented the DS Rubber Brick Award (for those movies in which you feel the need to throw something at the TV set).


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