Mexican Narcotics officer Ramon Miguel 'Mike' Vargas has to interrupt his honeymoon on the Mexican-US border when an American building contractor is killed after someone places a bomb in his car. He's killed on the US side of the border but it's clear that the bomb was planted on the Mexican side. As a result, Vargas delays his return to Mexico City where he has been mounting a case against the Grandi family crime and narcotics syndicate. Police Captain Hank Quinlan is in charge on the US side and he soon has a suspect, a Mexican named Manolo Sanchez. Vargas is soon onto Quinlan and his Sergeant, Pete Menzies, when he catches them planting evidence to convict Sanchez. With his new American wife, Susie, safely tucked away in a hotel on the US side of the border - or so he thinks - he starts to review Quinlan's earlier cases. While concentrating on the corrupt policeman however, the Grandis have their own plans for Vargas and they start with his wife Susie. Written by
Among the significant ways in which Orson Welles departed from the novel and the screenplay were to change the character of Mike Vargas from a white district attorney to a Mexican narcotics agent; to change the nationality of Susan from Mexican to American; and to set the film in a Mexican-American border town rather than in a Southern California town. Welles also heightened racial and sexual tensions in his screenplay. See more »
As the couple is getting into the car at the beginning of the movie, there is exhaust coming from the tailpipe well before we hear the ignition noise. See more »
Uh, you folks American citizens?
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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 See more »
After crossing the border of Mexico to the United States of America, the bomb planted in the car of the wealthy businessman Rudy Linneker blows up in Los Robles. The Mexican Chief of Narcotics Miguel Vargas (Charlton Heston) is spending honeymoon with his American wife Susan Vargas (Janet Leigh) in the border town and will testify in the case of the drug dealer Grandi that is arrested in Mexico City. The idolized ex-alcoholic American Police Captain Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) is in charge of the investigation since the murder happened in the American side of the border, but Mike Vargas participates as observer since the Mexican citizen Sanchez (Victor Millan) is the prime suspect. Meanwhile, Uncle Joe Grandi (Akim Tamitoff) unsuccessfully presses Susie, trying to convince her husband to drop the case. When Hank plants two dynamites in the house of Sanchez in a shoe box that Vargas had seen empty ten minutes before, he confronts Hanks. Joe Grandi witnesses their argument and associates to Hank to discredit Vargas, dishonoring Susie.
"Touch of Evil" is a masterpiece of malevolence and loss of humanity and one of my favorite movies ever. The long sequence in the beginning is in my opinion the best in cinema history, with a perfect timing. The black and white cinematography is amazing, with the perfect use of shadows and lighting. The story is fantastic and Orson Welles is awesome in the role of a despicable policeman that believes in his hunches, eternally grieves the loss of his wife and wishes to bring justice no matter the means and without any ethic. Janet Leigh performs a strong female character unusual in the 50's. Charlton Heston has also an unforgettable performance in the role of an ethical police office that is the opposite of Hank and prioritizes his work to his family, leaving his wife alone to seek the truth about his opponent. My vote is ten.
Title (Brazil): "A Marca da Maldade" ("The Mark of the Malevolence")
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