A young man (Joseph Schildkraut) gets so worked up by his old,
glass-eyed so-called mentor (Roman Bohnen) that he eventually chokes the
man to death, then he hides the body under some floorboards. When he goes
to sleep that night, he feels liberated, but when he wakes up the next
morning, he seems to hear the heartbeat of the dead man from under the
floorboards, and the sounds are getting louder with each beat.
policemen (Oscar O'Shea, Will Wright) knock on the young man's door.
Apparently, some neighbours have heard sounds out of his house the other
night, so it's their duty to come to investigate. They don't expect to
find much though, so they eat all of the man's feeble excuses and are
already ready to go when the young man invites them to drinks, and starts
to act weirder and weirder by the minute, driven by the heartbeats he is
hearing (which his guilty conscience makes him hear of course).
Eventually, he sees himself forced to give away the hiding place of the
old man's corpse, even if he has no rational reason to do so. But once the
cops have found the old man's body and arrested him, the heartbeats stop
Technically, this is a well-made short, sticking pretty
closely to Edgar Allan Poe's well-known short story, with all the suspense
in the right places and the like. But unfortunately, the film also seems
to be terribly academic, sterile even. Sure, the film covers all the bases
of the storybut in doing so, it lacks originality, personality. That said
of course the film is still totally watchable, it's well-played and
technically almost perfect, but whoever calls it a masterpiece probably
refers to Poe's story much more than to Jules Dassin's adaptation ...