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Touch of Evil (1958)

PG-13 | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | February 1958 (USA)
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A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town.

Director:

Orson Welles

Writers:

Orson Welles (screenplay), Whit Masterson (based on the novel "Badge Of Evil" by)
7 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 Victor Millan ... Manelo Sanchez
Lalo Rios Lalo Rios ... Risto
Michael Sargent Michael Sargent ... Pretty Boy
Phil Harvey ... Blaine
Joi Lansing ... Zita
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

February 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Badge of Evil See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$829,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$70,725, 13 September 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,237,659, 3 January 1999
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Maurice Seiderman, who was Orson Welles' makeup man on Citizen Kane (1941), is often credited with helping transform Welles into "Quinlan," for which he was padded with an extra 60 pounds. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the famous opening long shot, at the point where the bomb is planted in the trunk of the car, the reflection of a crew member is briefly seen in the upper left hand corner of the screen. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Customs Officer: 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 »

Alternate Versions

Originally released at 95 minutes, the 1975 alternate version ran 108 minutes and included additional footage shot by Welles in 1957, and deleted most of the footage shot by Harry Keller in 1957. See more »

Connections

Referenced in House: Big Baby (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

The Big Drag
Written by Henry Mancini
Performed by United International Orchestra
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Another touch of brilliance from Welles
26 January 2005 | by stephen-357See all my reviews

Considered by many to be the last "classic" noir film ever made, and perhaps the last masterwork from child prodigy Orson Welles, who looks about sixty in this film, despite his 42 years. In TOUCH OF EVIL the "noirish" dark streets and shadows are darker than ever, practically swallowing up the soft tones like a murky swamp. The action takes place in a nondescript U.S./Mexico border town where the worst that both sides has to offer is most in evidence. The famous opening scene (a 3 1/2-minute continuous shot) where we witness a time bomb being placed in the trunk of a Cadillac is masterful. The camera pulls in and out of the city scene as it follows the motion of the vehicle winding its way through streets littered with pedestrians, thus effectively creating a level of anxiety that could not be duplicated with multiple edits. After the inevitable explosion, the drama dives into a seedy world of corrupt police justice and malevolent decrepitude, which is filmed with such a stylish flair, it is almost weirdly humorous and playful! Mike Vargas, the good guy, is played by Charlton Heston and seems more than a wee bit miscast as a Mexican narcotics officer with his face darkened by makeup. When U.S. Police Captain Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) first meets him he remarks, "He doesn't look Mexican." Quinlan is the ultimate repugnant cop gone bad and Welles has the camera looking up into his nostrils most of the time making his character look even more monstrous. But Quinlan is also pitifully sad. A man who once had the instincts of a cat and the intelligence of a fox has been reduced to an insignificant mass of tissue, who's "instinct" is having a knack for finding evidence that he himself has planted. And while he may be revered by the local officials in law enforcement, he's acutely aware that he is a fraud and petrified that Vargas, has seen him naked.


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