The Hearts of Age is a funny short film. It’s weird funny, but it’s also funny funny. The weird has these grotesquely made up people–the film centers on an old woman, sitting on a bell, being pulled from below by this servant (in blackface). People pass her, going down these stairs. She watches them.
Then the creepiest of the creepy people shows up and convinces the servant to kill himself.
All the while, directors Welles and Vance cut all around–lots of forced symbolism (the bells, the bells), but the cutting is done to emphasis the obvious strangeness, not focus the viewer on the implied uncanny. It’s like the directors don’t want to have to try too hard with the symbolism.
The end has the action changed to the creepiest man by himself. And it’s when the humor starts coming through. The final sequence is a gag even.
Directed by Orson Welles and William Vance; written by Welles; director of photography, Vance; produced by Vance.
Starring Orson Welles (Death), Virginia Nicholson (Old woman / Keystone Kop), William Vance (Indian in blanket) and Edgerton Paul (Bell-ringer).