Up 629 this week

Touch of Evil (1958)

PG-13  |   |  Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller  |  1 May 1958 (UK)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.1/10 from 67,748 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 »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

Top Rated Movies #178 | 6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Third Man (1949)
Film-Noir | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.

Director: Carol Reed
Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid $10,000 he'd stolen in a robbery.

Directors: Charles Laughton, Robert Mitchum, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish
The Big Sleep (1946)
Crime | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he's seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A psychotic socialite confronts a pro tennis star with a theory on how two complete strangers can get away with murder - a theory that he plans to implement.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Fred Dobbs and Bob Curtin, two Americans searching for work in Mexico, convince an old prospector to help them mine for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt
Notorious (1946)
Drama | Film-Noir | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A woman is asked to spy on a group of Nazi friends in South America. How far will she have to go to ingratiate herself with them?

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains
The 400 Blows (1959)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Moving story of a young boy who, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.

Director: François Truffaut
Stars: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier
Citizen Kane (1941)
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore
The Killing (1956)
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Crooks plan and execute a daring race-track robbery.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards
Adventure | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

In a decrepit South American village, men are hired to transport an urgent nitroglycerine shipment without the equipment that would make it safe.

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Stars: Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck


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 Strangest Vengeance Ever Planned! 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?


Orson Welles claimed to have only seen this film once, at the one screening that the studio provided prior to his writing of the memo. 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

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 »


Referenced in House M.D.: Let Them Eat Cake (2008) See more »


Borderline Montuna
Written by Henry Mancini
Performed by United International Orchestra
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Great Detective, A Lousy Cop, And Some Kind Of Man
17 December 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

That's a great epitaph Marlene Dietrich and Mort Mills put together for Orson Welles's character police captain Hank Quinlan. In a sense, since Welles directed himself in Touch of Evil he both created the character and the circumstances that bring him down.

Two stories intersect in Touch of Evil. The first involves a particularly grisly murder in a Texas/Mexican border town of a man named Rudy Linnaker. The weapon was a car bomb, that went off just as Linnkaer and some chippie he was seeing crossed the border. Driving in the car just behind the late Mr. Linnaker was Charlton Heston as Mexican police detective Mike Vargas and his wife Janet Leigh.

Heston is returning to Mexico City where in a few days he's taking the witness stand in the trial of a local drug kingpin. The kingpin's brother is Akim Tamiroff who's the local crime lord in that border town. Heston's case against Tamiroff's brother and Welles's investigation into the car bombing are completely unrelated, but do to some cleverly worked out plot machinations they get intertwined together.

Charlton Heston has been quoted many times in saying that Orson Welles was the greatest director he ever worked for. He also rather modestly has stated that he did not give Welles his best screen performance. My own thought on it is that he really is not a terribly convincing latino. Maybe someone with Robert Mitchum's gift for dialect or a latino actor like Gilbert Roland might have been better. Still it's an earnest effort and Heston has nothing to be ashamed of.

In fact Heston says and I agree that the story is really about Welles and his destruction. Welles has great instinct as a detective, but he's not really all that scrupulous about due process. That's what has Heston's back up and it forces Welles into an unthinkable alliance with Tamiroff.

Janet Leigh gives us a sneak preview of what was in store for moviegoers in Psycho when she's trapped in that motel room with those punks that Tamiroff has sicced on her. One of the punks in fact was Mercedes McCambridge doing a little gender bending generations before Boys Don't Cry. At the motel Dennis Weaver has a marvelous bit part as the useless and feckless 'night man.'

Welles put a lot of his favorites in small roles here. Ray Collins took time away from Perry Mason on television to play the District Attorney. Joseph Cotten has a small bit as a medical examiner, Harry Shannon was the state's attorney, it was a regular Citizen Kane reunion.

Marlene Dietrich who was Welles's foil and partner in his magic act plays the owner of a border town dive and his mistress who loves him though she recognizes all his faults. This was a banner year for Dietrich because she also did her highly acclaimed role in Witness for the Prosecution.

One part though that should have been up for an Academy Award was Joseph Calleia who was Welles's devoted subordinate who in the end ironically helps to bring him down. It's a great piece of acting and Charlton Heston said that Joseph Calleia never did anything better in his entire cinema career. I wouldn't argue the point.

Now that the 'director's cut' is available we can now see Touch of Evil and realize what Welles's vision was for this film. Indifferently received when first out, it's grown to become a classic and probably one of the three or four films Welles the director gets the most acclaim for.

And now it's probably better than when first seen by the public.

20 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Which version is the best? themysteryman97
Opening scene timflower
Motel location johnny_clay
So, did Quinlan strangle his own wife? j-e-miller
My introduction to Orson Welles Erniesam
8/250 Silver Screen Fiend mattleighkelly
Discuss Touch of Evil (1958) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: