Old Hollywood
Cinema
1900-1979

Nostalgia is a seductive liar - George Wildman Ball
The Fall of the House of Usher (1928, dir. James Sibley Watson) (online here)
“I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary  tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the  evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know  not how it was - but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of  insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the  feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because poetic,  sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest  natural images of the desolate or terrible.
I looked upon the scene before me with an utter depression of soul.  There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart - an  unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination  could torture into aught of the sublime. What was it - I paused to think  - what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of  Usher?”
-Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher

The Fall of the House of Usher (1928, dir. James Sibley Watson) (online here)

“I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was - but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible.

I looked upon the scene before me with an utter depression of soul. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart - an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime. What was it - I paused to think - what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher?”

-Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher

The Tell-Tale Heart (1953, dir. Ted Parmelee), a surrealistic animated short film based on Poe’s short story & narrated by James Mason (full film online here & here)
"The old man sprang up in the bed, crying out, ‘Who’s there?’
I kept quite still and said nothing. Presently, I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself, ‘It is nothing but the wind in the chimney, it is only a mouse crossing the floor’. Yes he has been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions; but he had found all in vain.
Now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.
But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder, every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me — the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once - once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done.
But for many minutes the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased.  I removed the bed and examined the corpse. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.”
-Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart (1953, dir. Ted Parmelee), a surrealistic animated short film based on Poe’s short story & narrated by James Mason (full film online here & here)

"The old man sprang up in the bed, crying out, ‘Who’s there?’

I kept quite still and said nothing. Presently, I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself, ‘It is nothing but the wind in the chimney, it is only a mouse crossing the floor’. Yes he has been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions; but he had found all in vain.

Now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder, every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me — the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once - once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done.

But for many minutes the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased.  I removed the bed and examined the corpse. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.”

-Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart (1953, dir. Ted Parmelee), based on Edgar Allan Poe’s 1843 short story of the same title. The animated short film be seen online here & here.  
"Why will you say that I am mad? See how calmly I tell this story to you.
Listen:
It starts with the old man. An old man in an old house. A good man, I suppose. He had never harmed me. I didn’t want his gold, if gold there was. Then what was it? I think…I think it was…his eye. Yes, that eye … the eye. That. His eye staring. Milky white film. The eye. Everywhere. Everywhere, in everything. Of course, I had to get rid of the eye.”

The Tell-Tale Heart (1953, dir. Ted Parmelee), based on Edgar Allan Poe’s 1843 short story of the same title. The animated short film be seen online here & here

"Why will you say that I am mad? See how calmly I tell this story to you.

Listen:

It starts with the old man. An old man in an old house. A good man, I suppose. He had never harmed me. I didn’t want his gold, if gold there was. Then what was it? I think…I think it was…his eye. Yes, that eye … the eye. That. His eye staring. Milky white film. The eye. Everywhere. Everywhere, in everything. Of course, I had to get rid of the eye.”

Marguerite Gance in The Fall of the House of Usher (1928, dir. Jean Epstein) (via) Full film online at Internet Archive.  
"Yes, I hear it, and have heard it. We have put her living in the tomb! Said I not that my senses were acute? I now tell you that I heard her first feeble movements in the hollow coffin. I heard them—many, many days ago—yet I dared not—I dared not speak! 
And now—the rending of her coffin, and the grating of the iron hinges of her prison, and her struggles within the coppered archway of the vault! Have I not heard her footstep on the stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart?’—here he sprang furiously to his feet, and shrieked out his syllables, as if in the effort he were giving up his soul—’I tell you that she now stands without the door!’
The huge antique panels to which the speaker pointed threw slowly back, upon the instant, their ponderous and ebony jaws. It was the work of the rushing gust—but then without those doors there did stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher.”
-Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher (1839)

Marguerite Gance in The Fall of the House of Usher (1928, dir. Jean Epstein) (via) Full film online at Internet Archive.  

"Yes, I hear it, and have heard it. We have put her living in the tomb! Said I not that my senses were acute? I now tell you that I heard her first feeble movements in the hollow coffin. I heard them—many, many days ago—yet I dared not—I dared not speak! 

And now—the rending of her coffin, and the grating of the iron hinges of her prison, and her struggles within the coppered archway of the vault! Have I not heard her footstep on the stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart?’—here he sprang furiously to his feet, and shrieked out his syllables, as if in the effort he were giving up his soul—’I tell you that she now stands without the door!’

The huge antique panels to which the speaker pointed threw slowly back, upon the instant, their ponderous and ebony jaws. It was the work of the rushing gust—but then without those doors there did stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher.”

-Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher (1839)

The Tell-Tale Heart (1928, dir. Charles Klein) (via)
"It was a low, dull, quick sound —much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath —and yet the officers heard it not. 
I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men —but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed —I raved —I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder —louder —louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! —no, no! They heard! —they suspected! —they knew! —they were making a mockery of my horror!-This I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now —again! —hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!
'Villains!' I shrieked, 'dissemble no more! I admit the deed! —tear up the planks! here, here! —It is the beating of his hideous heart!'”
 
-Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart (1928, dir. Charles Klein) (via)

"It was a low, dull, quick sound —much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath —and yet the officers heard it not. 

I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men —but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed —I raved —I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder —louder —louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! —no, no! They heard! —they suspected! —they knew! —they were making a mockery of my horror!-This I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now —again! —hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

'Villains!' I shrieked, 'dissemble no more! I admit the deed! —tear up the planks! here, here! —It is the beating of his hideous heart!'”

-Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

The Fall of the House of Usher (1928, dir. James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber)
(via)

The Fall of the House of Usher (1928, dir. James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber)

(via)

The Masque of the Red Death (1964, dir. Roger Corman) (via)
“And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.”
-Edgar Allan Poe, The Masque of the Red Death (1842)

The Masque of the Red Death (1964, dir. Roger Corman) (via)

And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.”

-Edgar Allan Poe, The Masque of the Red Death (1842)

The Tell-Tale Heart (1928, dir. Charles Klein) (via)
"Oh God! what could I do? I foamed —I raved —I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder —louder —louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! —no, no! They heard! —they suspected! —they knew! —they were making a mockery of my horror!-This I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now —again! —hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!
'Villains!' I shrieked, 'dissemble no more! I admit the deed! —tear up the planks! here, here! —It is the beating of his hideous heart!'”
-Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart (1928, dir. Charles Klein) (via)

"Oh God! what could I do? I foamed —I raved —I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder —louder —louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! —no, no! They heard! —they suspected! —they knew! —they were making a mockery of my horror!-This I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now —again! —hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

'Villains!' I shrieked, 'dissemble no more! I admit the deed! —tear up the planks! here, here! —It is the beating of his hideous heart!'”

-Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart