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Touch of Evil (1958)

PG-13 | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 9 May 1958 (Canada)
Trailer
2:09 | Trailer
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 ... 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! (original posters-all caps) 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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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

During the struggle between Quinlan and Grandi, Grandi reaches for a revolver under the bed. The gun in the first cutaway is black and smaller than the second cutaway, where the revolver appears larger and silver. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Customs Officer: Uh, you folks American citizens?
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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 »

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

Featured in Get Shorty (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Flashing Nuisance
Written by Henry Mancini
Performed by United International Orchestra
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User Reviews

 
Pure black and white magic.
23 March 2000 | by terraplaneSee 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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

9 May 1958 (Canada) 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

Gross USA:

$2,247,465

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,286,947
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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