“The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most famous short stories in the world. It has inspired writers, artists and filmmakers since it’s publication in 1843. Like many classic literary works, “The Tell-Tale Heart” has been adapted into animated and live-action film.
My favorite adaptation is the first animated short subject released Dec. 17, 1953. It started a change in animated film production. Up until that point, animated feature films and short subjects had been children’s or family fare. Most were dominated by Walt Disney Productions but also included other famous characters like Casper, Popeye, Tom & Jerry and Bugs Bunny. So when an animated short featuring creepy and surrealistic images about a brutal murder is released, controversy isn’t far behind.
The film was considered too adult and slapped with an X rating by the British Board of Film Censors. It was the first cartoon to receive this adult rating making it difficult to market overseas. However, the animated version was well-received in the United States by critics at the time and by film historians today. It earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Short Film but lost to Walt Disney’s “Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom.” All the nominees in this category for that year are considered children’s cartoons so for the “The Tell-Tale Heart” to find itself with high acclaim was a major accomplishment.