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Touch of Evil (1958)
The consummate Welles
Orson Welles favorite theme is the corruption of men who would be great, and it's never expressed better than in Touch of Evil. Baroquely late noirish, it's full of grandiose shots, big characters and truly memorable lines. Welles, Joseph Calleia, Janet Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, Akim Tamiroff, Mercedes McCambridge and Dennis Weaver are all memorable, though Charlton Heston as a Mexican narc smacks of "We'll let you do the picture if Chuck plays the lead." It's problematic to quantify any movie as the greatest film ever, but I can say that Touch of Evil is probably my favorite film ever because I've watched over again more than any other.
Sugar Hill (1993)
For those of you who like this film, a little history. I worked on it as the boom operator for the LA part of the shoot (8 weeks out of 11).
The shooting script had a linear structure with no flashback, a history of the Skruggs brothers since they were kids. It was re-edited into the flashback structure after a bad test screening. I'm not sure that this was necessarily better, but it enabled Leon Ichaso and the editors to make trims they might not otherwise have been able to make.
The rough cut I saw was a much clearer story, but it played a little long. I think if they had stuck with the original it might have been more successful commercially and artistically.
The original title of the script was "Skeezer," and we shot it as "Harlem." At one point near the end of shooting there was talk of a tongue-in-cheek "contest" to see who could come up with the best new title.