Touch of Evil1958
Touch of Evil (1958)
Critic Consensus: Artistically innovative and emotionally gripping, Orson Welles' classic noir is a visual treat, as well as a dark, sinister thriller.
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as Hank Quinlan
as Ramon Miguel `Mike' Vargas
as Susan Vargas
as Pete Menzies
as Uncle Joe Grandi
as District Attorney Adair
as Motel Clerk
as Marcia Linnekar
as Manolo Sanchez
as Pretty Boy
as Gang Leader
as Strip Joint Owner
as Gang Member
as Gang Member
as Gang Member
as Gang Member
as Young Delinquent
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Critic Reviews for Touch of Evil
Citizen Kane may be the more weighty, rounded work, but Touch of Evil is a heap more fun.
Made in 1958, it was Orson Welles's last Hollywood film, and in it he makes transcendent use of the American technology his genius throve on; never again would his resources be so rich or his imagination so fiendishly baroque.
It is typical of Orson Welles that he takes a B-movie thriller set on the Mexican border and gives it a Shakespearian grandeur.
Like the bomb that's lobbed in the boot of the soft-top car in its opening scene, Touch Of Evil is a film where we can hear the faint sound of ticking in our heads, but don't realise what the problem is before it's far too late.
The bravura of the opening sequence of Orson Welles's last Hollywood picture grabs you by the throat.
Audience Reviews for Touch of Evil
Even the bad in this, and there's plenty of that, plenty, is better than most of the poop you usually digest. Excellent performances throughout. Janet Leigh's amazing until you see what Dietrich could do with a single shot.
It is great to be able to see this film now as Welles first intended it to be, a very complex character study (and also visually dazzling, opening with a gorgeous long tracking shot) about a corrupted man strongly convinced that any means are justifiable to achieve his idea of justice.
An iconic, misanthropic, film noir, "Touch of Evil" is one of Orson Welles' last Hollywood ventures and one of his best and critically received films of all time. Welles has his memorable directing style, choice of mis-en-scene, and elaborate choices in acting covering this film from top to bottom. From the bleak atmosphere, to the dark and seedy undercurrent of violence in the police department, to the cultural differences between Mexico and America on a border town, every choice in this film is magnificent. Welles also made the interesting choice to make all the music used within the film diegetic, so it plays from radios and passing cars, and not from a score. Even the plot of the film seems strangely unordinary, as it starts as an explosive (literally) investigation into a car bombing. It quickly becomes clear that the rather robust Hank Quinlan (Welles) is a culprit in the framing of a Mexican youth, and Mexican narcotics' agent Vargas (Heston) has to play a decadent game of cat and mouse in order to save his new wife Susan (Leigh) and entrap Quinlan. Every role in this film feels like a piece of a puzzle that fits together with glue like accuracy. Welles wore padding and prosthetics to play the bull-figure that he would ultimately become, and the transformation makes his gluttonous behavior seem less than coincidental with his end game. Heston, though out of his depth as a Mexican and miscast by a mile, does a convincing job of being the hero without reigning down moralistic virtues as he does in former films. Leigh is a little too agog at the world of crime for her performance to be anything but bothersome, yet she does stand up for her husband at every turn. There are many side performances that would make anyone squeal with glee, including Dennis Weaver ("Gunsmoke") as a hotel manager, Zsa Zsa Gabor as a strip club owner, and Marlene Dietrich as a gypsy madame who falls into sympathy for Quinlan, though strangely she isn't the only one who does so. Welles, as a visionary director, does some interesting things with a pulpy noir that make it resemble an art house thriller more than anything, and does so with little background noise to complicate things, something very few directors have been able to replicate.
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