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.

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

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


23 March 2000 | terraplane
10
| Pure black and white magic.
Here is a film that wouldn't be made today because nobody makes 'B' movies anymore; and this is the greatest 'B' movie in the history of cinema. Here is the perfect example of why Orson Welles should be considered a genius. He has made this film look so effortlessly easy that it could almost be considered film making by numbers. From the famous opening sequence to the closing titles, this is the film students' reference book.

Welles portrayal of the bloated cop Hank Quinlan is only bettered by his Harry Lime in 'The Third Man'. He gets right inside the seedy, corrupt Quinlan; but still leaves room for just the lightest touch sympathy because we know that, after all, he's a fallible human like all of us. We almost feel sad at his fate especially when Marlene Dietrich gives her sad soliliquay about him.

This is another film that can only exist in black and white, and begs the question, why can't directors work effectively in this medium today? Some have tried but none have have really suceeded. David Lynch's Eraserhead is probably the best modern example of a black and white only film. Woody Allen's Manhattan tries hard but ends up looking too much like a documentary. I don't think that directors today use this medium enough, too many rely on colour and the efffects that can only work in colour to get them out of trouble.

So put A Touch Of Evil on your 'must see' list and enjoy a work of film making artistry.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Premiered as the second half of a double bill (hence its 'B' movie status) after main feature The Female Animal (1958) directed by Harry Keller, the same director hired to re-shoot parts of the film after Orson Welles was fired.


Quotes

Customs Officer: Uh, you folks American citizens?


Goofs

At the beginning of the famous opening long shot, at the point where the bomb is planted in the trunk of the car, the reflection of a crew member is briefly seen in the upper left hand corner of the screen.


Crazy Credits

Opening statement (restored version): In 1957, Orson Welles completed principal photography on TOUCH OF EVIL and edited the first cut. Upon screening the film, the Studio felt it could be improved, shot additional scenes and re-edited it. Welles viewed this new version and within hours wrote a passionate 58-page memo requesting editorial changes. This version represents an attempt to honor those requests and make TOUCH OF EVIL the film Orson Welles envisioned it to be. "... I close this memo with a very earnest plea that you consent to this brief visual pattern to which I gave so many long hard days of work." -- Orson Welles


Alternate Versions

The 1998 restoration is often called the "Director's Cut," which it is not. Welles original cut was done immediately after filming was completed. This cut no longer exists. Universal then cut the film and when shown THIS version, Welles composed his 57-page memo. So the 98 cut was restored to Orson's intentions, but there is no way of knowning if this would have been his Director's cut. Also, see aspect ratio argument in Trivia section.


Soundtracks

The Chase
Written by
Henry Mancini
Performed by United International Orchestra

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller

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