Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

02 April 2008

The Tell-Tale Heart, dir. Jules Dassin (1941)

STEVE says:
This was a disappointing but well-made adaptation of Poe's story that fails only in its departure from the original work.

I lay the blame here, not on Jules Dassin, but on screenwriter Doane R. Hoag, who decided to leave out the narration which made Poe's story so interesting: Here's this guy, clearly insane, trying to justify the murder of an old man for no other reason than the old man's blind eye freaked him out, by calmly and sanely relating the tale. It's given a miss here, and instead we have a guy who's unjustly abused by his boss and decides to kill him. It's just not as interesting, now matter who shoots it.

The murder scene isn't anywhere near as interesting as Poe's, either. Poe had the narrator hide behind the old man's bedroom door and fix a beam of light on his eye ("I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle…") until the old man died of fright. Here, the young man does bring the lantern into the old man's room, then casts it aside and strangles the old man to death! What the hell is this?

The rest of it pans out pretty much the same as in the story, with the police arriving, the young man hearing the beating of the heart, etc., and that's all done brilliantly - but the narrator's cocky nature in the story is undone here by just making the young man crazy, apparently driven over the edge by guilt.

In all, I guess if I hadn't read Poe, I wouldn't have minded this one so much. If Dassin had had a proper screenplay to work with, this would have been a minor classic. As it is, it's kind of forgettable.


Nikki did not view.

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