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Touch of Evil (1958)

Cast: Charlton Heston, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, more...
Director: Orson Welles, Orson Welles
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Universal Studios
Genre: Classics, Film Noir, Vintage Noir, Classic Crime, Crime, Classic Crime, Cops
Running Time: 111 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    see additional details...

This baroque nightmare of a south-of-the-border mystery is considered to be one of the great movies of Orson Welles, who both directed and starred in it. On honeymoon with his new bride, Susan (Janet Leigh), Mexican-born policeman Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston) agrees to investigate a bomb explosion. In so doing, he incurs the wrath of local police chief Hank Quinlan (Welles), a corrupt, bullying behemoth with a perfect arrest record. Vargas suspects that Quinlan has planted evidence to win his past convictions, and he isn't about to let the suspect in the current case be railroaded. Quinlan, whose obsession with his own brand of justice is motivated by the long-ago murder of his wife, is equally determined to get Vargas out of his hair, and he makes a deal with local crime boss Uncle Joe Grandi (Akim Tamiroff) to frame Susan on a drug rap, leading to one of the movie's many truly harrowing sequences. Touch of Evil dissects the nature of good and evil in a hallucinatory, nightmarish ambience, helped by the shadow-laden cinematography of Russell Metty and by the cast, which, along with Tamiroff and Welles includes Charlton Heston as a Mexican; Marlene Dietrich, in a brunette wig, as a brittle madam who delivers the movie's unforgettable closing words; Mercedes McCambridge as a junkie; and Dennis Weaver as a tremulous motel clerk. Touch of Evil has been released with four different running times -- 95 minutes for the 1958 original, which was taken away from Welles and brutally cut by the studio; 108 minutes and 114 minutes in later versions; and 111 minutes in the 1998 restoration. Based on a 58-page memo written by Welles after he was barred from the editing room during the film's original post-production, this restoration, among numerous other changes, removed the opening titles and Henry Mancini's music from the opening crane shot, which in either version ranks as one of the most remarkably extended long takes in movie history. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • Welles' Memo
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Production Notes
  • Cast and Filmmakrs

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Mr. Arkadin
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GreenCine Member Reviews

We don't care by AMacEwen5 April 19, 2013 - 6:37 AM PDT
0 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Get over the race issue, nobody cares.

Touch of Evil by MMoore1 August 12, 2007 - 6:10 PM PDT
2 out of 6 members found this review helpful
I've seen the director's version of Touch of Evil several times, once on the big screen after the restoration. It has so many layers, I always find something new. After seeing it this time, I wondered how strange it is that Suzy is married to a brown skinned Mexican yet treats the other Mexican-Americans in the story with such contempt. She calls a brown skinned stranger Pancho and is uniformly rude to the Grandi relatives before she knows they are villains. She is so racist it is unsurprising they torture her with such pleasure. In these old movies I always wonder if the movie maker is showing us racism or being racist. I suspect Welles was showing us racism because he could have easily let Heston remain white. Everything about the movie shows Heston as a hero, his tall shadow, how he catches his car keys like Jim Edmonds. I'd like other members' take on the race issue in this movie.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.90)
673 Votes
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