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Touch of Evil (1958)

PG-13  |   |  Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller  |  1 May 1958 (UK)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 67,666 users  
Reviews: 260 user | 158 critic

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



(screenplay), (based on the novel "Badge Of Evil" by), 2 more credits »
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Top Rated Movies #178 | 6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Marcia Linnekar
Valentin de Vargas ...
Pancho (as Valentin De Vargas)
Victor Millan ...
Manelo Sanchez
Lalo Rios ...
Michael Sargent ...
Pretty Boy
Phil Harvey ...


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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Overwhelming Drama of a Strange Vengeance See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence and drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

1 May 1958 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Badge of Evil  »

Box Office


$829,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$70,725 (USA) (11 September 1998)


$2,237,659 (USA) (1 January 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (1998 alternate) | (1975 alternate) | (director's cut) | (DVD edition) | (restored)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The first scene filmed was the interrogation of Sanchez, under the watchful eye of Universal executives. Orson Welles did it quickly as proof he could make the film within the budget ($825,000) provided and with a 38-days shooting schedule. Joseph Cotten said in an interview, the final cost was $900,000 and it was completed in 39 days. See more »


The car blown up in the opening scene has a completely different radiator grille and front bumper prior to the explosion. See more »


[first lines]
Border Cop: Uh, you folks American citizens?
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the 111-minute restored version, there are no credits at all until the end of the film. See more »


Referenced in David Holzman's Diary (1967) See more »


Blues Pianola
Written by Henry Mancini
Performed by United International Orchestra
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Masterpiece of Malevolence and Loss of Humanity
6 December 2009 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

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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