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Touch of Evil (1958)

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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)
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Popularity
1,630 ( 855)
6 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

Janet Leigh's agent initially rejected her participation in this film due to the low salary offered without even consulting the actress. Orson Welles, anticipating this, sent a personal letter to the actress, telling her how much he looked forward to their working together. Leigh, furious, confronted her agent telling him that getting directed by Welles was more important than any paycheck. See more »

Goofs

As the couple is getting into the car at the beginning of the movie, there is exhaust coming from the tailpipe well before we hear the ignition noise. 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

A new version, running 111 minutes, has been restored by Universal and debuted at the Telluride Film Festival in September 1998. This version has been re-edited according to Orson Welles' original vision, as outlined in a 58-page memo that the director wrote to Universal studio head Edward Muhl in 1957, after Muhl took editing out of Welles' hands. The new version has been prepared by editor by Walter Murch, sound recordists Bill Varney, Peter Reale and Murch, and picture restorer Bob O'Neil under the supervision of Rick Schmidlin and film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum. One difference between the two versions is that the famous opening tracking shot is now devoid of credits and Henry Mancini's music, featuring only sound effects. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Operation Avalanche (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Son of Raunchy
Written by Henry Mancini
Performed by United International Orchestra
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Masterpiece of Malevolence and Loss of Humanity
6 December 2009 | by claudio_carvalhoSee all my reviews

After crossing the border of Mexico to the United States of America, the bomb planted in the car of the wealthy businessman Rudy Linneker blows up in Los Robles. The Mexican Chief of Narcotics Miguel Vargas (Charlton Heston) is spending honeymoon with his American wife Susan Vargas (Janet Leigh) in the border town and will testify in the case of the drug dealer Grandi that is arrested in Mexico City. The idolized ex-alcoholic American Police Captain Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) is in charge of the investigation since the murder happened in the American side of the border, but Mike Vargas participates as observer since the Mexican citizen Sanchez (Victor Millan) is the prime suspect. Meanwhile, Uncle Joe Grandi (Akim Tamitoff) unsuccessfully presses Susie, trying to convince her husband to drop the case. When Hank plants two dynamites in the house of Sanchez in a shoe box that Vargas had seen empty ten minutes before, he confronts Hanks. Joe Grandi witnesses their argument and associates to Hank to discredit Vargas, dishonoring Susie.

"Touch of Evil" is a masterpiece of malevolence and loss of humanity and one of my favorite movies ever. The long sequence in the beginning is in my opinion the best in cinema history, with a perfect timing. The black and white cinematography is amazing, with the perfect use of shadows and lighting. The story is fantastic and Orson Welles is awesome in the role of a despicable policeman that believes in his hunches, eternally grieves the loss of his wife and wishes to bring justice no matter the means and without any ethic. Janet Leigh performs a strong female character unusual in the 50's. Charlton Heston has also an unforgettable performance in the role of an ethical police office that is the opposite of Hank and prioritizes his work to his family, leaving his wife alone to seek the truth about his opponent. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "A Marca da Maldade" ("The Mark of the Malevolence")


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