Touch of Evil Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 23, 2014
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.
Super Reviewer
July 23, 2010
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.
FilmFanatik
Super Reviewer
½ January 29, 2008
Now I wouldn't say that Touch of Evil is the best noir film ever made, but it certainly ranks up there. Having never seen the original theatrical version before, I watched the restored version and I quite admire it (like I do all of Orson Welles' work). As per usual, everyone gives wonderful performances and the film pushes the limits and the hot buttons of riske material for the timeframe it was made and released in. Both Welles and Charlton Heston are magnificent in the film, as is the luminous Janet Leigh. There's a bit part for Marlene Dietrich in there, as well. Perhaps sometime I'll watch the released version and compare, but for now, I have to say this one of Orson Welles' finest pieces of work, acting, directing or otherwise.
Super Reviewer
½ October 27, 2011
Artistic and dark, this, in my opinion, is Welles at his best.
DragonEyeMorrison
Super Reviewer
November 5, 2010
It's a shame the script doesn't match the quality of the direction, and the performances. Between Leigh's super naive wife, a retarded hotel clerk, and Heston unaware of the brother of a guy he's going to put in jail the story is just barely there. Not a bad exercise for the genre, but not one of the high marks
Super Reviewer
½ September 5, 2010
Welles is well known for his directorial genius and you can see his cool techniques in this movie too, but I found the story pretty boring for the most part. It's good, but the story could be tightened a bit. I know it's a classic, but I can't help feeling that way.
Super Reviewer
January 25, 2009
From what little I've seen by Orson Welles (besides this one, I've only watched his "Citizen Kane" & "The Third Man" till date), this one's hands down the best one thus far.
Super Reviewer
July 22, 2008
Sensational crime drama about a narcotics agent at odds with a corrupt American cop. They're investigating the murder of a couple after driving their car across the Mexican-American border. A B-movie at heart, this film noir is a potboiler dressed up with flashy camerawork and a stellar cast. Written, directed by, and co-starring Orson Welles, he flaunts conspicuous direction and stunning visual style. This is exaggerated stuff, but damn if it isn't entertaining. Dennis Weaver plays a jittery hotel manager, Marlene Dietrich dons a black wig as a fortune telling madam, and they've got Charlton Heston playing a Mexican! When a gang of hoodlums terrorizes Janet Leigh in a hotel room, the scene threatens to derail the film into trashy melodrama. Luckily the plot is so arresting it holds the viewer's interest throughout the film until the very last frame of this tense psychological thriller.
bbcfloridabound
Super Reviewer
½ March 18, 2010
Actual a pretty good movie. Charlton Heston plays a Mexican boarder detective and Orson Well splays a Texas Redneck Cop. When a bomb explodes and kills a man near the Mexico-USA border, two of both country?s best detectives find themselves at odds over how to investigate the case. Soon, their attention is drawn towards attacking each other and neither of their lives will ever be the same again. Well worth buying and adding to any collection. 4 1/2 stars.
flixsterman
Super Reviewer
December 28, 2008
I've heard it said that Touch of Evil, NOT Citizen Kane, is Orson Welles' greatest cinematic achievement. While I'm not sure I would agree with that statement I do agree that it's clearly a masterpiece of film noir, especially in the camera work. If there is a detractor here it's buying into the casting of Charlton Heston as a Mexican lawman, for me that's a bit of a stretch. Otherwise, it's one of the best representations of movie making as an art form I've ever seen. Five stars.
Super Reviewer
June 29, 2009
After telling the guy in the video store that I wasn't a big fan of Film Noir, he gave me this movie. I'm still not a Noir fan, but hell, this movie was something else! It was exciting! I really got a kick out of it.
Orson was amazing, and Marlene Dietrich: what an appearance!

"He was some kind of a man... What does it matter what you say about people?"
sanjurosamurai
Super Reviewer
January 24, 2007
orson wells has given us some of the most iconic characters in film history, from charles foster kane to harry lime, and in touch of evil he gives us hank quinlin. despite some significant weight gain and some extra padding that made wells nearly unrecognizable, his performance was excellent. we also get great performances from heston and leigh, and the cinematography was haunting bearing similarity to the camera work of greg toland in citizen kane. the opening sequence is one of the most effectively shot opening scenes that i have ever seen, and touch of evil is a classic noir.
Super Reviewer
January 5, 2009
Touch of Evil is the Orson Welles masterpiece that fell into his lap and was then subsequently taken away by the studio and recut and reshot to their specifications. It would be forty years before Welles true vision was recreated based on a 53 page memo he sent to Universal in 1958 airing his concerns over the changes. The film is opens with a car bomb exploding just as it leaves Mexico for the United States. A well respected Mexican drug enforcement agent names Vargas (Charlton Heston) is on his honeymoon with his new American bride Susie (Janet Leigh) and assists in the investigation that is headed by the legendary detective Hank Quinlan. As Vargas investigates the explosion and Quinlan's subsequent bending of the law his wife is being harassed and kidnapped by members of the Mexican crime family he plans on testifying against later in that week in Mexico City.What Welles created with Touch of Evil was the last noir picture. Most of the action occurs in the dark with shadows being most of the scenery and the flashing lights of Mexican burlesque halls filling the slummy rooms throughout the film. Although it's hard to accept Charlton Heston as a Mexican he still does a fine job as Vargas, playing a game of cat and mouse with Welles as Quinlan. Quinlan is the anti-Charles Foster Kane. Fat, old, ugly he's like a lumbering pig whose only goal is to finish cases no matter what the cost. He doesn't do it for money: he does it for himself.It's been said that Orson Welles peaked with Citizen Kane. That may be true, but Touch of Evil gives us the glimmer of that bright young man who went to Hollywood to make his kind of movies. Was he ahead of his time? Certainly.
rubystevens
Super Reviewer
½ November 1, 2007
arguably the last noir of the classic period and what a great one it is. this was a restored version supposedly closer to welles' original vision. for one thing, they've removed the titles from the awesome opening tracking shot of the car bombing. heston is much less annoying than i've seen him in other films and orson looks like three of the seven deadly sins personified. also i'd totally forgotten dietrich was in this picture! talk about your odd casting. still it all somehow works beautifully : )
cosmo313
Super Reviewer
½ August 19, 2008
This film isn't quite as good or made as well as Citizen Kane, but it is much more watchable, and I enjoyed it more too. This is often considered the last entry in the film noir genre during its golden years, and while I don't know how it ranks in the genre, since I haven't seen enough noir films for comparison, Ido think it is an excellent thriller/mystery film in general. The cast is absolutely fantastic, especially Welles-directing himself in the role of the gruff and ridiculously corrupt lawman. The memorable, cinematography,skillful direction, and haunting score are all equally superb as well.
Super Reviewer
May 12, 2007
According to some scholars, the last work of the film-noir golden age. Orson Welles takes Whit Masterson's simple story of murder and corruption on the mexican-american border and improves it, making it a feast for the eyes, starting with a lenghty travelling shot. Russel Metty's striking photography and Henry Mancini's snappy score are major points, as well as the acting department, led by none other than Welles, as the crooked cop, funny appearences by Dennis Weaver and Akim Tamiroff and Charlton Heston as a mexican, which might be odd, but he did a very good job. A cinematic tour de force.
dietmountaindew
Super Reviewer
November 23, 2007
orson welles' "touch of evil" is dubbed as the last classic film noir...as a matter of fact, it's doubtfully also a mixture of gangster flick aura and noirish decadence, but also an action flick with heroic charlton heston to rescue the victimized petitie female janet leigh to enhance his grandeur machismo. the pastiche of three gendres accomplishes an innovative masterpiece.

the storyline is multi-layered, outsetting with an explosive bomb hidden over the trunk to blow off an important govorment officier, and the novelity of ticking tempo is grapplingly crispy. then non mexican-looking charlton heston's vargas appears with his blonde wife janet leigh, commented in the beginning with "non of them look mexican" as the sarcastic undertone. then orson welles dominates the screen with his obsese rotten copper quinlan, also intertwined with the brutish cocaine boss with a laughable wig to cover up his botchy bald.

to be faithful to the action cinema dualism of hero/villain, against roles like quinlan and cocaine boss are all made clusmsily awkward, then heston's decent guy vargas emerges as dashing and masculine with a handsome mustache. to constrain the just vargas, the cocaine gang frame vargas' wife with narcotic intoxication, and that scenario has a sub-taste of modern narcotic cinema. supplementarily marlene dietrich also partakes in the cameo of fortune-telling gypsy woman who footnotes the doom of quilan as effective cynicism, "your future is all used up.", particularly her last line on quilan's demise. "what does it matter what you say about people?"

some criticize charlton heston's acting style and his inadequacy as mexican in it, but how about dietrich? is she conving as a german-accented gypsy? the notion of cinema thrives upon maginifed reality with delusional contortions, so naturally the inauthentic castings could be a method to emphasize the malfuntioned surroundings which permeat in the corrupted dimensions of "touch of evil", and its mythical success attributes to the hybridization of various gendres.
Super Reviewer
May 5, 2007
Charlton Heston plays a Mexican...brilliant. Every time I see this film, I'm reminded what an absolute amazing film is.

Bless you Walter Murch
Super Reviewer
½ May 14, 2007
Vargas: Captain, you won't have any trouble with me.
Quinlan: You bet your sweet life I won't.

The film that was said to have concluded the film noir period.

Orson Welles directs and stars as a corrupt police captain in Mexico with Charton Heston as a Mexican cop and Janet Leigh as his wife.

The film starts with a gloriously long tracking shot that leads up to a bombing. The plot ensues

Welles may have been in on the bombing, Heston has to balance his wife and his struggle to find out the truth of what is going on.

This movie is very much about its style. The plot is fairly simple, although there are many twists and turns, but the visual style and use of sound make this movie work well.

Welles has the best part and most fun in the movie. Heston is ...playing a Mexican, and Janet Leigh is just beautiful.

Well done, very well directed noir.

Quinlan: I don't speak Mexican. Let's keep it in English, Vargas.
Vargas: That's all right with me. I'm sure he's just as unpleasant in any language.
Sanchez: Unpleasant? Strange. I've been told I have a very winning personality. The very best shoe clerk the store ever had.
Super Reviewer
½ May 6, 2007
The brilliant, brilliant swan song of film noir.
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