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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:

Writers:

(screenplay), (based on the novel "Badge Of Evil" by)
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Top Rated Movies #235 | 6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Mike Vargas
... Susan Vargas
... Police Captain Hank Quinlan
... Police Sergeant Pete Menzies
... 'Uncle' Joe Grandi
... Marcia Linnekar
... District Attorney Adair
... Mirador Motel Night Manager
... Pancho (as Valentin De Vargas)
... Al Schwartz
Victor Millan ... Manelo Sanchez
Lalo Rios ... Risto
Michael Sargent ... Pretty Boy
... Blaine
... 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:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

February 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Badge of Evil  »

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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  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Much of the music used throughout the movie was from sound sources that pertained to the film: radio transmissions, jukeboxes, player piano. See more »

Goofs

When Menzies tells Vargas that his wife is charged with murder, Vargas says, "Murder?" His lips don't move. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Customs Officer: 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 »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Turkish I Spit on Your Grave (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Main Title (Touch of Evil)
Written by Henry Mancini
Performed by United International Orchestra;
Rolly Bundock (bass); Shelly Manne (drums); Barney Kessel (guitar); Jack Costanzo, Mike Pacheco (percussion); Ray Sherman (piano); Dave Pell (baritone sax); Plas Johnson (tenor sax)Conrad Gozzo, Pete Candoli, Ray Linn (trumpets) ;Red Norvo (vibes)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Pure black and white magic.
23 March 2000 | by See all my reviews

Here is a film that wouldn't be made today because nobody makes 'B' movies anymore; and this is the greatest 'B' movie in the history of cinema. Here is the perfect example of why Orson Welles should be considered a genius. He has made this film look so effortlessly easy that it could almost be considered film making by numbers. From the famous opening sequence to the closing titles, this is the film students' reference book.

Welles portrayal of the bloated cop Hank Quinlan is only bettered by his Harry Lime in 'The Third Man'. He gets right inside the seedy, corrupt Quinlan; but still leaves room for just the lightest touch sympathy because we know that, after all, he's a fallible human like all of us. We almost feel sad at his fate especially when Marlene Dietrich gives her sad soliliquay about him.

This is another film that can only exist in black and white, and begs the question, why can't directors work effectively in this medium today? Some have tried but none have have really suceeded. David Lynch's Eraserhead is probably the best modern example of a black and white only film. Woody Allen's Manhattan tries hard but ends up looking too much like a documentary. I don't think that directors today use this medium enough, too many rely on colour and the efffects that can only work in colour to get them out of trouble.

So put A Touch Of Evil on your 'must see' list and enjoy a work of film making artistry.


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