Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Tell-Tale Heart (1941) Jules Dassin

I stumbled upon this 20 minute film on Turner Classic Movies and was instantly mesmerized. Directed by Jules Dassin, the movie stars Joseph Schildkraut as the Young Man, and he is wonderful to watch. Most film fans will know him as Frank Otto in 1959's Diary of Anne Frank, or as Ferencz Vadas in the 1940 Shop Around the Corner.

The Old Man is played by Roman Bohnen, The First Deputy Sheriff is Oscar O’Shea, and Will Wright plays the Second Deputy Sheriff. And that rounds out the cast.

Cinematography is very stylish and beautifully filmed in black and white by Paul Vogel. The musical soundtrack was composed by Sol Krandel and consists primarily of the beating, thumping heart. It’s very effectively done.

Unfortunately, the screenwriter (Doane R. Hoag) and the director completely changed the relationship of the Old Man and the Young Man. The short story can be read in less time than it takes to watch the film and it’s pretty straight forward. The other objection I have is that the last lines of the Young Man, and the film, were changed.

Other works by Poe have been filmed, and greatly modified from his original writings, but in a tight film like this, why don’t we let genius of Edgar Allan Poe speak for itself.

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