Touch of Evil (1958)

PG-13   |    |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir


Touch of Evil (1958) Poster

A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town.


8/10
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  • Charlton Heston and Orson Welles in Touch of Evil (1958)
  • Charlton Heston and Orson Welles in Touch of Evil (1958)
  • Orson Welles in Touch of Evil (1958)
  • Orson Welles and Russell Metty in Touch of Evil (1958)
  • Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh in Touch of Evil (1958)
  • Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh in Touch of Evil (1958)

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26 January 2005 | stephen-357
Another touch of brilliance from Welles
Considered by many to be the last "classic" noir film ever made, and perhaps the last masterwork from child prodigy Orson Welles, who looks about sixty in this film, despite his 42 years. In TOUCH OF EVIL the "noirish" dark streets and shadows are darker than ever, practically swallowing up the soft tones like a murky swamp. The action takes place in a nondescript U.S./Mexico border town where the worst that both sides has to offer is most in evidence. The famous opening scene (a 3 1/2-minute continuous shot) where we witness a time bomb being placed in the trunk of a Cadillac is masterful. The camera pulls in and out of the city scene as it follows the motion of the vehicle winding its way through streets littered with pedestrians, thus effectively creating a level of anxiety that could not be duplicated with multiple edits. After the inevitable explosion, the drama dives into a seedy world of corrupt police justice and malevolent decrepitude, which is filmed with such a stylish flair, it is almost weirdly humorous and playful! Mike Vargas, the good guy, is played by Charlton Heston and seems more than a wee bit miscast as a Mexican narcotics officer with his face darkened by makeup. When U.S. Police Captain Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) first meets him he remarks, "He doesn't look Mexican." Quinlan is the ultimate repugnant cop gone bad and Welles has the camera looking up into his nostrils most of the time making his character look even more monstrous. But Quinlan is also pitifully sad. A man who once had the instincts of a cat and the intelligence of a fox has been reduced to an insignificant mass of tissue, who's "instinct" is having a knack for finding evidence that he himself has planted. And while he may be revered by the local officials in law enforcement, he's acutely aware that he is a fraud and petrified that Vargas, has seen him naked.

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Genres

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller

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