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
At first all was well on the set. Knowing there were studio spies on the set, Orson Welles planned his first day of shooting to start with two uncomplicated close-ups. He started work at 9 a.m. and had the first shot finished by 9:15. Then he got the second shot by 9:25. The studio spy was called off, so nobody noticed that the next shot wasn't completed until 7:40 p.m. Fortunately, that was a long take that covered 11 pages of script, so Welles ended his first day of shooting two days ahead of schedule. See more »
At the beginning of the famous tracking shot, the person planting the bomb manages to open the trunk of the car without having (or using) a key, See more »
In the 111-minute restored version, there are no credits at all until the end of the film. See more »
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 »
An Intriguing, If Somewhat Uneven, Combination of Welles & Noir
It would certainly be worth watching "Touch of Evil" just to see how the combination of Orson Welles and film-noir works out. Adding in Marlene Dietrich, Charlton Heston, and a border town setting makes an even more unusual mix. The result is very intriguing, though somewhat uneven. It's quite a tense and entertaining movie, but it's hard not to notice some of the flaws.
The most impressive part probably comes right at the beginning, with the lengthy single take that sets up the story. It's clearly a technical triumph, but it is more than that. It not only gets the story rolling, but establishes both the atmosphere and the setting very efficiently. It is also followed up well, setting up the entrance of Welles's character nicely.
Welles himself does a fine job as the jaded but perceptive policeman. His character is believable and complex, too menacing to like but too pitiable to hate. Heston is oddly cast as Vargas, and through little fault of his own, the character is not fully convincing. Dietrich's role seems to have been tailored just for her, but it fits in reasonably well. Janet Leigh always seems right at home in even the weirdest of stories. Joseph Calleia also gets some good moments.
The story is always interesting, and often peculiar, sometimes to the point of distraction, yet there's no denying that it holds your attention all the way through. It's hard to call it a great movie due to the rough edges, but it's an intriguing combination that's well worth seeing.
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