The Tell-Tale Heart: Lost Edgar Allan Poe short released on BFI Player
Staff Reporter | On 26, Oct 2018Reading time: 2 mins
See Edgar Allan Poe as you’ve never seen him before this Halloween, as a lost film based on his classic The Tell-Tale Heart is released online for the first time.
Adelphi Films’ 1953 short is a British adaption of Edgar Allan Poe’s murderous psychological drama, but has been missing for over 50 years. In 2017, though, the 20-minute movie was discovered in an attic. Jeff Wells, a 16mm enthusiast living in Drunmore near Stranraer, Scotland, came across the one-reel print when clearing out his loft. Research led him to believe it was missing from Adelphi Films’ catalogue and, after contacting them to confirm it, returned it to its home.
Adelphi Films’ Manager Kate Lees (granddaughter of founder Arthur Dent) had been actively searching for the film for the last 12 years. Kate Lees said; “We are very excited to have found this film after searching for it for so long and had almost given up hope.”
Directed by JB Williams and made at Carlton Kay Studios in London, The Tell-Tale Heart is a one man monologue starring the Welsh-born actor and producer Stanley Baker (The Guns of Navarone, Zulu, Accident), as Poe’s unnamed narrator with a haunted conscience.
“Baker has restraint and a suggestion of violent emotion that makes this sombre and nerve chilling study of a murderer’s mind most moving. A gloomy but impressive picture not for the squeamish,” is how Kinematography Weekly described the film in 1954.
The Adelphi Films Collection is held and preserved by the BFI National Archive. The 16mm print and a digital copy of the restoration has been donated to the BFI, and this Halloween, the film is being released via BFI Player.
Josephine Botting, BFI Curator adds; “It’s always exciting when a missing film comes to light and an addition to both the catalogue of British producer Adelphi and the filmography of Edgar Allan Poe is a wonderful discovery.”
The film is now available to watch for free on the BFI’s VOD platform for two weeks from today. It will also be screened at the National Theatre alongside Anthony Neilson’s contemporary production of The Tell-Tale Heart on Monday 17th December – alongside Roger Corman’s Tales of Terror (1962). You can find out more about that event here.