#NB# – This is a post that I did a long time ago (16 September 2007) on my old blog. I think my writing style has changed a little bit in that time, although I’m not sure whether it has changed for the better.
The Tell Tale Heart – UPA
Directed by: Ted Parmee, Art Babbitt
Animated by: Pat Matthews
Written by: Fred Gamble & Bill Scott
Based on an Original Story by: Edgar Allan Poe
Some people argue that UPA’s Tell Tale Heart is not really animation because there is barely any animation in this cartoon.
This is a controversial cartoon for a number of reasons. Firstly, It was the first cartoon ever to be given an X-rating in the UK, although for the life of me I have no idea of the reason for that at all. There is no nudity or sex or profanity and no real violence. Perhap the censorship board thought that only those over the age of 18 could handle seeing something as complex and abstract as this short. Perhaps as there is a lack of animation in this cartoon, which is the other controversy surrounding this, the UK Film Board thought that it was not suitable for those under 18. Then again, it was released at the height of the McCarthy hearings and UPA producer John Hubley was someone who was hounded by the McCarthy-ites.
This cartoon was also made in 3D, which means that audiences would have watched it wearing those red and blue glasses, although it was never screened in 3D.
When I first saw this short I had mixed feelings about it, but my fondness for it has grown.
I’ve been reading a few comments on blogs and internet message boards written by people who really, really hate UPA cartoons for whatever reason. Whilst a lot of the later cartoons after John Hubley left the studio are quite pretentious and seem to put style before any subastance, I feel that the earlier UPA cartoons such as Rooty Toot Toot, Gerald McBoing Boing, Tell Tale Heart and the early Magoo’s and UPA For and Crow cartoons are very good and enjoyable to watch. Sure, these cartoons are very different to the great Warner Bros. and MGM cartoons of the 1940s, and they did inspire those poorly made, very shoddy, cheaply animated TV cartoons that came about in the late 1950s and 1960s, but I still think that the very best UPA cartoons can compare very favourably to those of the other studios.