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USA 1958 (Restored Version)
Directed by
Orson Welles
111 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Touch Of Evil

 In this mannered film noir, Orson Welles revels in the role of Harry Quinlan, the corrupt and embittered police chief of a  run-down town on the border with Mexico, which he oversees as a law unto himself. Charlton Heston plays the good guy, Ramon Miguel "Mike" Vargas  a police investigator who has come to town to be a witness for the prosecution of a drug dealer and who comes into conflict with Quinlan's expedient approach to crime-busiting . Janet Leigh plays Vargas's wife whilst Mercedes McCambridge and Marlene Dietrich appear in lesser roles.

Recalling Greg Tolland's work on Citizen Kane (1941), the famous three minute opening shot has all the unusual angles, distorted viewpoints and brooding lighting you could ever want. This time around cinematographer Russell Metty was responsible for Welles’s characteristically umbrageous visual style in what was arguably his last great work and certainly his last in Hollywood

As usual for Welles, Touch of Evil is very much a journey into the heart of darkness and his studio Universal, once again typical for Welles, panicked and re-shot sections and re-edited it, although the released version flopped critically and commercially. The film was restored in the 1990s, edited by Walter Murch, following a 58 page memo that Welles had sent to Universal when they were butchering his original cut. 




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