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The Tell-Tale Heart is a 1953 American animated short film directed by Ted Parmelee and narrated by James Mason. The screenplay by Bill Scott and Fred Grable is based on the 1843 short story of the same title by Edgar Allan Poe.

The plot focuses on a murderer whose increasing guilt leads him to believe he can hear his victim's heart still beating beneath the floorboards where he buried him. Seen through the eyes of the nameless narrator, the surrealistic images in the film help convey his descent into madness.

Paul Julian served as both designer and color artist for film, and Pat Matthews was the principal animator.

In May 1953, pre-production started on The Tell-Tale Heart, which originally was intended to be a 3-D film. However, it is not known whether or not the film was animated in this fashion, and it was not released in 3D if it was. There is no reference to 3D in a technical trade review. Furthermore, the leaders on original prints of the film do not indicate it ever was part of a pair of 3D prints, typical of all other 3D pictures.
 

The film was the first cartoon to be rated X, indicating it was suitable only for adult audiences, by the British Board of Film Censors. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film but lost to Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom from Walt Disney Productions.

In 1994, animation historian Jerry Beck surveyed 1000 people working in the animation industry and published the results in The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected by 1,000 Animation Professionals, in which The Tell-Tale Heart ranked #24.

In 2001 the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

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Details

CastJames Mason
Genre:  Animation, Classics, Horror
Release Date:  December 17, 1953
MPAA Rating:  Unrated
Runtime:  7 1/2 minutes
Studio:  Columbia Pictures, United Productions of America (UPA)
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Quick Tip by . July 22, 2011
posted in Cult Cinema
Caption
Perhaps the single most macabre and chillingly entertaining animated short film ever made up until its release, The Tell-Tale Heart is an atmospheric and expressionistic animated masterpiece. Running at approximately seven and a half minutes long, it manages to faithfully re-tell the classic Edgar Allan Poe story in a manner that is at once disturbing and yet satisfying. The eerie narration by James Mason is so evocative that it almost feels as though Poe is telling you the story from beyond the …
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