‘1 Man 365 Films 365 Days’ – Day 235


#197 / 365 – ‘Touch of Evil’ (1958) – 116 mins
IMDb Challenge #118 / 250 – Ranked #123 – Via Lovefilm

Mexico’s chief narcotics officer, Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston), is in a border town on a quick honeymoon with his American wife, Susan (Janet Leigh). Soon he must testify against Grandi, a drug lord whose brother and sons are tracking him, hoping to scare his wife and back him off the case. When a car bomb kills a rich U.S. developer, Vargas embroils himself in the investigation, putting his wife in harm’s way. After Vargas catches local legendary U.S. cop, Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles), planting evidence against a Mexican national suspected in the bombing, Quinlan joins forces with the Grandi family to impugn Vargas’s character.

Opening up with an single, atmospherically drenched and impressively coordinated tracking shot proves invaluable for establishing the setting in writer, director and star Orson Welles devilishly plotted and powerfully brilliant classic film-noir, Touch of Evil.

The film contains quite a number of unforgettable set-pieces much down to the Welles flamboyant yet elegant use of the camera. However, its just not the camerawork in where Welles shines at, he summons a genius performance from himself, as the corrupt US policeman Hank Quinlan. He then directs some cracking performances from the rest of devious crew of characters. Charlton Heston even though he seems miscast as the Mexican cop, but his performance is a proud one. Janet Leigh as Vargas wife is sweet, fiery, and patient. Marlene Dietrich is proves brilliant and memorable albeit in a small role.

I’ve seen Orson Welles most defining and most talked about ‘Citizen Kane (1941)’ on several occasions but on this first viewing of, Touch of Evil it easily stands alongside that masterpiece and is a true testament to just how masterful a film-maker Orson Welles really was. If you like your film noir to be classy and audacious then, Touch of Evil is a highly recommended watch.


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3 Responses to ‘1 Man 365 Films 365 Days’ – Day 235

  1. Nostra says:

    That first shot of this movie is epic, my jaw hit the floor while watching that. I don’t always notice long shots, but this was stunning. Welles is great and I agree on the miscasting of Heston, somehow it was strange to see him playing a Mexican. I scored it a bit lower than you (8/10), but it’s a movie worth watching.

  2. Steve says:

    Agreed that opening shot just proves so memorable, hours and days after viewing it!

    Have you seen Citizen Kane?

    • Nostra says:

      Yes I did, but that must have been more than 5 years ago. It’s a stunning movie with all the techniques he used on it. There are some shots that stand out especially knowing that they didn’t have any digital editing back then and everything had to be done by hand and cutting film.

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