It would only seem logical that UPA, which wanted to produce cartoons without talking comedic animals and slapstick violence, would choose Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart (1953) as one of its subjects.
The cartoon was nominated for an Academy Award, with Paul Julian choosing the colours and inventing and dark, shadowy designs.
Here are some title frames from the opening of the cartoon as the camera pulls back on slowly panning drawings and overlays.
Adam Abraham’s terrific book When Magoo Flew: The Rise and Fall of Animation Studio UPA discusses the cartoon. Studio boss Steve Bosustow decided the cartoon should be in 3-D. Julian had to make changes to adapt to the format “I stayed up all night on a couple of occasions working out perspective parallaxes,” he told Abraham. The 3-D version was screened for UPA employees and their families. “One woman fainted, and some of the artists’ children, terrified, ran out of the theatre...In another preview screening...an audience member suffered a seizure,” Abraham learned. Bosustow was called to Columbia Pictures’ headquarters in New York and reamed out.
Audiences, expecting a cartoon to be a comedy, laughed at the moody drawings and James Mason’s a-little-too-serious narration. However, we’re far enough away from 1953 to be able to look at the cartoon and appreciate what Julian was trying to do.
A late note: It seems the designs in this cartoon have already been displayed on the internet by the late Michael Sporn. Check out his post on the subject