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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)
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Popularity
3,018 ( 74)
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 Overwhelming Drama of a Strange Vengeance 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

The 1998 restoration was supposed to premiere at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival. However, the day before the premiere, the showing was canceled by Beatrice Welles (Orson Welles's daughter), who has a long history of interfering with showings of her father's work through threats of litigation. See more »

Goofs

The car blown up in the opening scene has a completely different radiator grille and front bumper prior to the explosion. 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

The 1998 restoration is often called the "Director's Cut," which it is not. Welles original cut was done immediately after filming was completed. This cut no longer exists. Universal then cut the film and when shown THIS version, Welles composed his 57-page memo. So the 98 cut was restored to Orson's intentions, but there is no way of knowning if this would have been his Director's cut. Also, see aspect ratio argument in Trivia section. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Psycho (1960) See more »

Soundtracks

Ku Ku
Written by Henry Mancini
Performed by United International Orchestra
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Spellbinding thriller
8 November 1999 | by Dr.TeethSee all my reviews

There are only two ways to write a review that would truly do this film justice. Either one would have to write an exceedingly long review, or a short, concise one. I choose to do the latter.

When I first saw "Touch of Evil," I was glued to the chair. When I found out it was not Welles' definitive vision, I wondered how on earth it could have been made better. And when I saw the re-released version, I wondered why the studio altered it. The stunning black-and-white images, the intricate plot, and the powerful, engaging performances took a hold of my imagination. At times, I imagined myself on the street with the characters, because the atmosphere was so thick I felt surrounded in it.

The actors all did an outstanding job, especially Leigh and Heston (who, although not thoroughly convincing as a Mexican, soared above his usual powerful, furious presence). This is Welles' picture, however, and whenever the camera catches his obese figure, you are fully aware of the man as a director and an actor. His powerful vision drives the film, from the single-cut opening sequence to the cat-and-mouse finale.

I suggest watching the 1998 restored version over the original theatrical release, but regardless of which version, "Touch of Evil" will have you stuck in your seat, questioning your views of morality until long after the last credit has rolled up the screen.


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