ming movie reviews

in about 100 words or less

Touch of Evil (1958)

US 112m (restored cut), B&W
Director: Orson Welles; Cast: Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Joseph Calleia, Akim Tamiroff, Marlene Dietrich

The 1998 restored cut of Touch of Evil is a fine example of film noir which is also widely notable for its beautiful three-minute plus tracking shot which opens the story and which ends with a bang. Despite the odd choice to cast Heston as a Mexican drug enforcement official named Ramon Miguel Vargas, Touch of Evil is an engaging crime drama in which two separate plot lines involving organized crime, drugs, crooked cops and racism become tightly interwoven into one. Perhaps most notable is Welles’s performance as Quinlan, the hard-nosed corrupt sheriff whose  character spirals out of control when his reputation is challenged (Klaus Ming February 2012).

5 comments on “Touch of Evil (1958)

  1. SJHoneywell
    02/05/2012

    This is my favorite Welles film hands down. Even with, as you say, the odd casting choice, every aspect of this film works for me. Now I feel like watching it again.

    • Klaus
      02/06/2012

      I definitely enjoyed it, especially Welles’s performance. Some of the minor roles were interesting as well – including Marlene Dietrich and Dennis Weaver. My only criticism of the film is the cartoonish portrayal of the “rock and role” culture.

  2. manonmona
    02/06/2012

    Reblogged this on Espacio de MANON.

  3. Anthony Lee Collins
    02/07/2012

    My favorite Welles film as well, and one of my favorite movies ever. I wrote about it here: http://u-town.com/collins/?p=2671

    I will also mention that some parts (Janet Leigh, staying in an otherwise-deserted motel, interacting with a skinny and nervous desk clerk, and then later menaced more seriously) were obviously an influence on Psycho.

  4. Klaus
    02/07/2012

    I hadn’t seen this one, and was very taken by it. I’m interested to see the version of the film which was originally released – which resulted in Welles’s 58? page memo to the studio.

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This entry was posted on 02/05/2012 by in 1001 List, 1950s, All and tagged .
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