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Touch of Evil
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Touch of Evil was made in 1958; the last film to be directed by Orson Welles. Unexpectedly given the reins of the film, Welles threw away the script for the planned film, and in just two weeks scratched out a script based on a cheapo pulp fiction novel called "Badge of Evil".
The result, as presented now in a restored version (the movie was, like Magnificent Ambersons, butchered by the studio) is quite remarkable.
On the one hand, it is definitely pulp, with an extremely rough-and-ready style, gritty elements (this is the only "pot party" you're likely to see in a "great film" from the studio era!) and a very, very low budget.
On the other hand, it is a masterpiece. I was extremely impressed by the scene in which (*spoiler!*) Hank Quinlan strangles the Hispanic fellow. I have never seen a movie scene shot like this, especially with the surreal effect of the flashing neon, and the slanting camera.
And who can forget the end of the film, where (spoiler!) Hank Quinlan sits in a pile of garbage in a stream, and tries to cleam blood off his hands? Look at Orson's acting in this scene - truly magnificent.
Someone called this the best B film ever made. If you want to see a pulp masterpiece made on the cheap, see Touch of Evil!
Directed by Orson Welles, 'Touch of Evil' is a film noir masterpiece whose Hollywood backstory is as unforgettable as the movie itself. Starring Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and Orson Welles, this dark portrait of corruption and morally compromised obsessions tells the story of a crooked police chief who frames a Mexican youth as part of an intricate criminal plot. Featuring three versions of the film ' the Preview Version, the Theatrical Version and the Reconstructed Version based on Orson Welles' original vision, Touch of Evil is a 'a stylistic masterpiece!' (Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide) that stands the test of time.
FILM FACT: The film opens with a three-minute, twenty-second tracking shot widely considered by critics as one of the greatest long takes in cinema history. In 1993, 'Touch of Evil' was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".Read more ›
Welles' bravula mise en scene, with the help of Russel Metty's startling black-and-white lighting and stunning camera movement, transform Venice, California into a chaotic frontier town between the US and Mexico. Charlton Heston, often refereed to as the most wooden actor in American cinema, gives a performance of his life as a Mexican cop. His casting may sound funny, but please forget that it's the same guy who played BEN HUR and Moses in the TEN COMMANDMENTS watching this movie then his highly energetic, rather over-the-top performance is actually convincing, especially as opposed to Welles' deliciously vicious portrayal of a corrupted American cop. It was actually Heston who suggested Universal that Welles would not only act in this film but also direct it, so you should give him some credit. Janet Leigh plays Heston's all-American wife "from Philadelphia", and is also quite marvelous in the way she turns out to be something else that we first think she is. With Hitchcock's PSYCHO and Anthony Mann's THE NAKED SPUR, this is probably her best performance. Metty's contrasty black-and-white photography also makes her very beautiful. She looks always better in blacho and white than in color, don't you think so?
This unorthodox casting works, because the film is a bigger than life caricature.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Let me be the first person to say that Citizen Kane was not Orson Welles' best movie. Touch of Evil was his best movie. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Nat Hawthorne
Still looking forward to seeing this movie but I heard it's a great example of 50's noir.
Not entirely familiar with the genre but again, really looking forward to it. Read more
"Touch of Evil" has the honor of being the last film noir of the genre's golden age -- a dark, grimy story about a corrupt little Southwestern town. Read morePublished 23 months ago by E. A Solinas
This is one of my favourite films EVER. I'm a huge Orson Welles fan ... and speaking of huge, he is rather corpulent and ghastly in this film, and he takes this and runs with it. Read morePublished on Feb. 1 2014 by Jane Skinner
Unfortunately,one of the best creative people in hollywood,and unique creative presences there,has only a handful of good american films and the films he has were often interfered... Read morePublished on Aug. 19 2012 by Anthony Marinelli
How this movie is not consistently ranked in the top 25 films of all time is baffling to me. It's a respected movie, but it deserves more. Read morePublished on Dec 15 2010 by Jimbo Jones
Mexican narcotics officer Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston) and his bride (Janet Leigh) have just ended their honeymoon in a border town when they become involved in a murder... Read morePublished on Oct. 11 2008 by Kona