IMDb > Touch of Evil (1958)
Touch of Evil
Quicklinks
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
Overview
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
Promotional
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

Touch of Evil (1958) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 34 | slideshow) Videos (see all 2)
Touch of Evil -- Stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in Mexican border town.

Overview

User Rating:
8.2/10   59,769 votes »
Your Rating:
Saving vote...
Deleting vote...
/10   (delete | history)
Sorry, there was a problem
MOVIEmeter: ?
Down 14% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Orson Welles (screenplay)
Whit Masterson (based on the novel "Badge Of Evil" by)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Touch of Evil on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
1 May 1958 (UK) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
The Overwhelming Drama of a Strange Vengeance See more »
Plot:
A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
6 wins & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
A beautiful, haunting and complex film noir See more (252 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Charlton Heston ... Mike Vargas

Janet Leigh ... Susan Vargas

Orson Welles ... Police Captain Hank Quinlan

Joseph Calleia ... Police Sergeant Pete Menzies

Akim Tamiroff ... 'Uncle' Joe Grandi

Joanna Moore ... Marcia Linnekar

Ray Collins ... District Attorney Adair

Dennis Weaver ... Mirador Motel Night Manager
Valentin de Vargas ... Pancho (as Valentin De Vargas)
Mort Mills ... Al Schwartz
Victor Millan ... Manelo Sanchez
Lalo Rios ... Risto
Michael Sargent ... Pretty Boy
Phil Harvey ... Blaine

Joi Lansing ... Zita
Harry Shannon ... Chief Gould

Marlene Dietrich ... Tana

Zsa Zsa Gabor ... Strip-Club Owner
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Joe Basulto ... Young Delinquent (uncredited)
Yolanda Bojorquez ... Bobbie (uncredited)

Joseph Cotten ... Coroner (uncredited)
Domenick Delgarde ... Lackey (uncredited)
Jennie Dias ... Jackie (uncredited)
John Dierkes ... Policeman (uncredited)
Eleanor Dorado ... Lia (uncredited)
Jeffrey Green ... Rudy Linnekar (uncredited)
Billy House ... Construction Site Foreman (uncredited)

Mercedes McCambridge ... Gang Leader (uncredited)
Arlene McQuade ... Ginnie (uncredited)
Ken Miller ... Gang Member (uncredited)
Ramón Rodríguez ... Gang Member (uncredited)
Gus Schilling ... Eddie Farnham (uncredited)
William Tannen ... Marcia Linnekar's Attorney (uncredited)
Wayne Taylor ... Gang Member (uncredited)
Rusty Wescoatt ... Detective Casey (uncredited)

Dan White ... Customs Officer (uncredited)

Keenan Wynn ... Bit Part (uncredited)

Directed by
Orson Welles 
 
Writing credits
Orson Welles (screenplay)

Whit Masterson (based on the novel "Badge Of Evil" by)

Franklin Coen  contributing writer: reshoots (uncredited)
Paul Monash  additional scenes (uncredited)

Produced by
Albert Zugsmith .... producer
 
Original Music by
Henry Mancini (music)
 
Cinematography by
Russell Metty (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Walter Murch (1998 re-edit)
Aaron Stell (film editor)
Virgil W. Vogel (film editor) (as Virgil Vogel)
Edward Curtiss (uncredited)
 
Art Direction by
Robert Clatworthy 
Alexander Golitzen 
 
Set Decoration by
John P. Austin (set decorations)
Russell A. Gausman 
 
Costume Design by
Bill Thomas (gowns)
 
Makeup Department
Bud Westmore .... makeup
Merle Reeves .... hair stylist (uncredited)
Vincent Romaine .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Maurice Seiderman .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Monty Westmore .... makeup artist (uncredited)
 
Production Management
Foster Thompson .... unit production manager (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Phil Bowles .... assistant director
Harry Keller .... director: reshoots (uncredited)
Terence Nelson .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Leslie I. Carey .... sound
Frank H. Wilkinson .... sound (as Frank Wilkinson)
Peter Berkos .... sound editor (uncredited)
Robert L. Bratton .... sound editor (uncredited)
Donald Cunliffe .... sound technician (uncredited)
Ed Hall .... sound technician (uncredited)
George Ohanian .... dialogue editor (uncredited)
Walter White .... sound technician (uncredited)
 
Visual Effects by
Kevin Braun .... lead digital compositor (1998 restoration)
Kevin Braun .... visual effects supervisor (1998 restoration)
Sandy DellaMarie .... digital production coordinator (1998 restoration)
Chris Flynn .... digital paint artist (1998 restoration)
Mark Freund .... visual effects supervisor (1998 restoration)
George Gervan .... digital paint artist (1998 restoration)
Richard Gervan .... digital paint artist (1998 restoration)
Maureen Healy .... digital paint artist (1998 restoration)
Lynn Tigar .... digital paint artist (1998 restoration)
 
Stunts
David Sharpe .... stunts (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Sherman Clark .... still photographer (uncredited)
Ledge Haddow .... assistant camera (uncredited)
James V. King .... camera operator: Venice canal locations (uncredited)
Philip H. Lathrop .... camera operator (uncredited)
John L. Russell .... camera operator (uncredited)
Clifford Stine .... camera operator: additional photography (uncredited)
Roy Vaughn .... assistant camera (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Claire Cramer .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Adam Gottbetter .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Nevada Penn .... wardrobe (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Eric Aijala .... negative restoration (1998 restoration)
Sean Cullen .... assistant editor (1998 restoration)
Bob O'Neil .... picture restoration (1998 restoration)
Ernest J. Nims .... assistant editor (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Joseph Gershenson .... music supervision by
Richard Nash .... musician: trombone (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Armondo Linus Acosta .... consultant (uncredited)
Fred Banker .... unit publicist (uncredited)
Charles Baqueta .... coordinator (uncredited)
Wayne Fitzgerald .... title designer (uncredited)
Betty A. Griffin .... script supervisor (uncredited)
Robert Tafur .... dialogue coach (uncredited)
Robert Tafur .... technical advisor (uncredited)
 
Thanks
James Naremore .... special thanks (1998 restoration) (as James Narmore)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
MPAA:
Rated PG-13 for some violence and drug content (re-rating) (1998 restoration)
Runtime:
95 min | Germany:111 min (1998 alternate version) | USA:108 min (1975 alternate version) | USA:112 min (director's cut) | Spain:106 min (DVD edition) | 111 min (restored version)
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Certification:
Argentina:13 | Australia:M | Chile:14 | Finland:K-11 (DVD rating) | Finland:K-16 (original rating) | Finland:K-12 (restored version) | Germany:18 (restored version) | Germany:16 (restored version) (re-rating) (2005) | Netherlands:6 | Norway:15 (re-rating) (1999) | Norway:16 (1985) | South Korea:15 (2003) | Spain:13 (DVD rating) | Sweden:15 (original rating) | Sweden:11 (restored version) | UK:12 | USA:PG-13 | USA:PG-13 (No. 36039) (re-rating) (1998 restoration) | USA:Approved (PCA #18506) (original rating) | USA:Unrated (restored version) | West Germany:16 (nf)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
In the movie Ed Wood (1994), the Orson Welles character complains to the Ed Wood character about administrative meddling in a director's artistic vision: "I'm supposed to do a thriller with Universal, but they want Charlton Heston to play a Mexican," referring to this film (in reality, Heston's character was originally supposed to be white; it was Welles himself who changed it to a Mexican). Wood also tells Welles, "I've even had producers re-cut my films," a significant issue, as it turned out, for Welles with this film.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: At about the 50-minute mark, Vargas tells Quinlan that he knows the shoebox did not contain dynamite, and that ten minutes earlier he knocked it onto the bathroom floor and it was empty. But ten minutes earlier the audience saw Vargas knock the box into the bathtub, not onto the floor.See more »
Quotes:
[first lines]
Border Cop:Uh, you folks American citizens?
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in "House M.D.: Ugly (#4.7)" (2007)See more »
Soundtrack:
Tana's ThemeSee more »

FAQ

How much sex, violence, and profanity are in this movie?
Is "Touch of Evil" based on a novel?
Any recommendations for movies similar to "Touch of Evil"?
See more »
60 out of 78 people found the following review useful.
A beautiful, haunting and complex film noir, 11 July 2005
Author: Brandt Sponseller from New York City

Rather than films like Citizen Kane (1941) and The Lady from Shanghai (1947), neither of which am I a big fan of, Touch of Evil evidences director/writer/star Orson Welles' capacity for cinematic genius. The story is engaging, suspenseful, tight and well paced; the cinematography is consistently beautiful, inventive and symbolic; the setting and overall tone of the film, including the performances, are captivating, yet slightly surreal and otherworldly; and there are many interesting subtexts. This all combines to create a complex artwork that will reward however far a viewer wishes to dig into the film.

Based on a novel by Whit Masterson, Badge of Evil, Touch of Evil is a battle between two policemen--Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) and Ramon Miguel Vargas (Charlton Heston). Parallel to this is a kind of border battle between the United States, represented by Quinlan, and Mexico, represented by Vargas; the film is set in two border towns, frequently crossing over.

As Touch of Evil opens, we see a bomb being placed in the trunk of a car in Mexico. A construction company owner, Mr. Linnekar, gets in with his girlfriend. Vargas and his new wife, Susan (Janet Leigh), manage to walk along next to the car--they're all crossing the border into the United States. Shortly after crossing, the bomb goes off. This brings the gruff Quinlan into the picture. His investigation of the bombing brings him into Mexico for suspects. Meanwhile, Vargas and his wife are being threatened by Joe Grandi (Akim Tamiroff), a Mexican mob boss, and his underlings. Both Quinlan and Vargas are well respected in their countries, and both are used to getting what they want. But the bombing investigation ends up putting them at loggerheads, and Quinlan gradually turns out to have more than a "touch of evil".

As with many of his films, Orson Welles ended up having to battle the studio to realize his artistic vision. Usually, as here, the battle was unsuccessful for him. Despite his 58-page memo detailing various problems with Universal's non-director supervised reshoots (by Harry Keller) and re-edits, because they felt that Welles' final cut "could use some improvement", the film was released in a form that was not satisfactory to Welles. The fiasco has resulted in various versions of Touch of Evil appearing throughout the years. The 58-page memo was thought to have been lost, but a copy was discovered relatively recently in Charlton Heston's possession. The film was recut in 1998 based on Welles' memo. So make sure that you watch the 111-minute version first released by Universal on DVD in 2000.

The opening scene of Touch of Evil is famous, and rightfully so. Beginning with the timer being set on the bomb, then the bomb being placed in Linnekar's trunk before he gets into the car, we follow both the car and the relative ebb and flow of Vargases as they roughly walk alongside the car, all in one very long tracking shot that covers a lot of ground and features a lot of unusual angles. Welles stages the scene so that there are all kinds of complex background and foreground elements interacting with the car and our protagonist pedestrians. The suspense built up in this scene is incredible--you just know that bomb is going to go off, but you don't know just when, or who it is going to hurt. Compositionally, the scene is simply beautiful. The film is worth watching for this opening alone, but the whole of Touch of Evil features similar, meticulously planned artistry, filled with suspense.

Welles as an actor tends to have a very peculiar way of speaking that is full of affectations. Sometimes this can be a detriment to the film, as it was in The Lady from Shanghai. Here, though, the oddity works, and this despite the fact that, like Woody Allen, he seems to direct his whole cast to deliver their dialogue as if they were him. As a result, Touch of Evil has very peculiar, contrapuntal scenes where people frequently talk on top of one another, with odd phrasing. It works because of the particular kinds of personality conflicts that Welles set up in the script. These are people who frequently _would_ talk on top of each other and occasionally not pay attention to each other.

But that's not the only odd thing about the film. Welles managed to find locations that, shot in this highly stylized and cinematographically complex film-noir manner, seem almost otherworldly. Except for a couple expansive desert shots, Touch of Evil feels eerily claustrophobic, even though most locations aren't exactly enclosed. The various modes and settings are all perfect for their dramatic material, which is mostly dark and moody. One change that Universal made was the excision of a lot of comic relief material featuring the Grandi family. Universal was right to cut it, and wisely, Welles agreed.

The music in the film is also extremely effective but unusual. Most of it is incidental. Latin and rock 'n' roll emanates from radios, for example, and the climax intermittently has a repeating, contextually haunting theme from a pianola.

But of course the story is just as important. Although Welles stated hyperbolically at various points that he was trying to "infuriate" the audience with a somewhat inscrutable plot, and it's true that the plot isn't exactly given in a straightforward manner, once you figure out the gist, it's relatively simple but extremely captivating. At the same time, it is full of symbolism and subtexts, including commentary on justice systems and perhaps some irony about the popular conceptions of the U.S. versus Mexico (made more complex by the fact that Quinlan spends just as much time south of the border and Vargas seems to spend a lot of time north). But as for being annoyed, you're more likely to become infuriated with Quinlan, who becomes more and more deliciously despicable as the film unfolds.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (252 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Touch of Evil (1958)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Which version is the best? themysteryman97
Motel location johnny_clay
My introduction to Orson Welles Erniesam
For the first time viewer, which version of the film danickster
Some of my favorite shots s-napolitano8
Opening scene timflower
See more »

Recommendations

If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends:
- - - - -
The Black Dahlia Blood In, Blood Out Babel Pineapple Express The Departed
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
Show more recommendations

Related Links

Full cast and crew Company credits External reviews
News articles IMDb top 250 movies IMDb Crime section
IMDb USA section

You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.