Touch of Evil

Directed By: Orson Welles Starring: Janet Leigh Charlton Heston

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Product Overview

A U.S. Sheriff frames a man for a border-town murder and kidnaps amexican official's wife. Directed by welles. Updated in 1998 to betterreflect the director's intentions.


Studio Universal Home Video
SKU 226519503
UPC 025192133664
UPC 14 00025192133664
Format DVD
Release Date 1/10/2012
Rating Rating
Essential Cinema
Film Noir
Theatrical Release
Editors Note
Note Orson Welles's TOUCH OF EVIL is nothing short of a masterpiece. Beginning with a three-minute-plus tracking crane shot, the film explodes onto the screen, literally--the marvelously expressive opening shot ends with a car blowing up, and that detonation sets into motion a classic noir tale of betrayal and murder. In a complex exploration of character and morality, Welles plays the racist Captain Hank Quinlan, a grotesque, troubled, and powerful figure who runs his small U.S. border town according to his own version of the law. Quinlan's brutishness and vulgarity contrast starkly with the idealism and playboy good looks of Charlton Heston as Mike Vargas, a Mexican detective trying to put away the leader of a dangerous family of drug dealers--the Grandis. In the U.S. with his new bride, Susie (Janet Leigh), Vargas becomes consumed with exposing Quinlan and his highly questionable methods--too busy to see that his own beautiful blonde bride is in serious danger from both Quinlan and the Grandis.^In 1998, Welles's film was restored closer to its creator's original vision, and it is a joy to behold. Every shot is impeccably crafted, every word of dialogue concise and pointed. The camerawork (by Russell Metty and John Russell) is stunning, particularly in the opening scene and the long single take in which Vargas believes he has caught Quinlan planting evidence. The supporting cast, led by Marlene Dietrich, Dennis Weaver, Akim Tamiroff, and Joseph Calleia, gives exhilarating performances. TOUCH OF EVIL, Welles's last studio film, is a near-perfect examination of the dark underbelly of society and the tragic downfall of a once proud man.
Plot Summary
Summary TOUCH OF EVIL is Orson Welles's gripping study of corruption and morality, set in a small town just across the Mexican-American border. A powerful police captain, who has framed a young Mexican for the bombing murder of a prominent American businessman, finds his authority challenged by an upright Mexican narcotics detective. But the detective soon learns that some things are not as obvious as they appear at first viewing. Welles's fabulous melodrama is a film noir treasure.
Memorable Quotes
Quote "I'm no lawyer. All a lawyer cares about is the law."--Captain Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) to Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston)
Quote "Who's the boss--the policeman or the law?"--Vargas to Quinlan
Quote "I want to watch."--Gang leader (Mercedes McCambridge) to "Pancho" (Valentin de Vargas)
Quote "I didn't recognize you....You should lay off those candy bars."--Tanya (Marlene Dietrich) to Quinlan
Quote "I don't speak Mexican."--Quinlan to Sanchez (Victor Millan)
Quote "Just because he speaks a little guilty, that don't make him innocent, you know."--Quinlan to Vargas
Quote "You're a mess, honey."--Tanya to Quinlan
Quote "Your future is all used up."--Tanya to Quinlan
Quote "Hank was a great detective, all right."--Tanya |"And a lousy cop."--Al Schwartz (Mort Mills)|"He was some kind of a man."--Tanya
Quote About working with Heston, Welles said, "He's the nicest man to work with that ever lived in movies. I supposed the two nicest actors I've ever worked with in my life are Gielgud and Heston."
Entertainment Weekly "...[A] splendid, definitive reedit of Orson Welles' noir great....Unspools with all the complex, unnerving menace its writer-director had in mind all along..." -- Rating: A 10/02/1998 p.53
USA Today "...A masterpiece..." -- 4 out of 4 stars 10/09/1998 p.5E
Premiere "...Discover what the hullabaloo was about....Great Welles and a surprisingly good Heston..." -- 5 out of 5 stars - One for the Library 12/01/2000 p.100,"[A] masterful wallow in noir....[Welles] inhabits another outsize monster who somehow evokes the viewer's sympathy." 05/01/2006 p.98
Total Film "...Classic noir's final shout pits Orson Welles and Charlton Heston as rival investigators..." 03/01/2001 p.100
New York Times "Orson Welles's 1958 TOUCH OF EVIL is a work of slippery precision, a picture whose seductiveness is only enhanced by its refusal to surrender fully to our grasp." 09/15/2008
Sight and Sound "Welles shoots and -- to the extent that he controlled post-production -- edits the film in a fragmented manner which suggest that the line between good cop Vargas and bad cop Quinlan is particularly thin..." 12/01/2011
Orson Welles
Janet Leigh
Charlton Heston
Cast & Crew
Janet Leigh - Star
Orson Welles - Star
Joseph Calleia - Star
Akim Tamiroff - Star
Charlton Heston - Star
Marlene Dietrich - Star
Ray Collins - Star
Zsa Zsa Gabor - Star
Aaron Stell - Editor
Russell Metty - Director of Photography
Virgil W. Vogel - Editor
Albert Zugsmith - Producer
Orson Welles - Screenwriter
Alexander Golitzen - Production Designer
Henry Mancini - Composer
Robert Clatworthy - Production Designer
Harry Keller - Director
Orson Welles - Director
Technical Info
Original Release Date 1958
UPC 00025192133664
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 111 minutes
Color B&W
DVD, Digital Audio
Product Attributes
Video Format DVD

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