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
Janet Leigh's agent initially rejected her participation in this film due to the low salary offered without even consulting the actress. Orson Welles, anticipating this, sent a personal letter to the actress, telling her how much he looked forward to their working together. Leigh, furious, confronted her agent telling him that getting directed by Welles was more important than any paycheck. See more »
The explosion in the opening scene shows the car squashing down on all four wheels. The following scenes show the car thrown on its right side. See more »
Uh, you folks American citizens?
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In the 111-minute restored version, there are no credits at all until the end of the film. See more »
I'm an admirer of Welles, his use of the single take, and his camera technique, but I'm not a big fan of this too unstructured movie. It's a great six minute opening shot in search of a decent story. Just as Leigh kisses Heston and they are interrupted by an explosion, a rather tiresome movie begins. She is instantly carted off to the sidelines to sit around passing time in a pointless sidebar, that feature Mercedes McCambridge as either the first lesbian to take part in a rape on film, or the first time a woman is cast as a man to put one over on the audience. Seemingly every race but an actual Mexican will do here in portraying the Mexican roles, no matter how absurd the casting; uber-Caucasian Charlton Heston, or German Marlene Dietrich. None of this would matter if the movie were any good, but it's two inter-cut holding patterns that have no tension and nothing filmic going for them (except maybe composition) once that first shot is over. At the re-release of the respectfully recut version, people were just laughing at the over-dramatic, hoary script of the last half hour. I was more respectful but I could understand their reaction.
Welles could fastidiously conceive and execute single set-pieces like no one else, but he just didn't didn't have much interest in making whole films after his first two (Kane & Ambersons). His Othello is also a terrible mess.
Give me Torneur's "Out of the Past" over this. This is a whole lot of fuss (and technique) about nothing.
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