The Tell-Tale Heart (1928)

THE TELL-TALE HEART (1928)
Article 1927 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-24-2006
Posting Date: 11-21-2006
Directed by Charles F. Klein
Featuring Otto Matieson, Heurford de Feurberg, Darvas

An insane man kills an old man because he can’t stand his eye, and then hides the body. He must then contend with an investigation from the law.

I was delighted to discover that my wife had in her collection a movie that had eluded my hunting efforts for several years. This silent take on the Edgar Allan Poe story stays scrupulously close to the original story, though it understandably foregoes the elaborate dismemberment of the body. It doesn’t turn the old man into a tyrant in an attempt to make us understand why he is killed; it is clearly established that it is the protagonist’s madness that impels him. This silent short is quite audacious; the sets are done in the style of THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI , it uses a jagged writing font for the title cards, and makes plentiful use of double (and sometimes triple) exposure to tell its story, and effectively uses the image of a pounding mallet to represent the beating of the heart. My favorite touch, though, is the portrayal of the two policemen, who speak and move in unison when addressing the young man, and who investigate the guilt in his eyes with a big, bizarre magnifying glass. All in all, this is the most satisfying take on the tale that I’ve seen to date.

 

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