Touch of Evil (1958) Orson Welles & 10 Things That Blew Me Away!

Touch Of Evil (1958) movie poster film orson welles charlton heston Janet Leigh

Yep I know, how could I have not seen Touch Of Evil yet? A slapped botty for sure but hey maybe it was all leading up to this viewing. A viewing that hit me like a strong swig of Tequila, hitting that sweet spot. Everyone has seen it, so I won’t do a rough description of the plot or what I thought of the film because that is self-explanatory. So here’s ten points that blew me away with awe and wonder.

  • The opening, one shot, continuous tracking through the streets of Mexico towards the US border was so beautifully enthralling. Apparently it’s very famous and I’d no idea, I guess it all just added to my pure wonder and fascination as the remarkable set piece played out.
  • It went up on Netflix UK this week. Instantly I jumped straight over the border control gate, head first into the action. It had been on the “to watch list” for many years and that was just the kick up the jacksie I needed. The quality of the print is completely outstanding. Crystal clear HD black and white is pure lush.
  • With Orson Welles direction, he and the director of photography Russell Metty capture incredible scene after scene. None more magical than the stunning close up face shots. Managing to perfectly grasp the pure essence of each of the players as their stories pan out.

Touch Of Evil (1958) Charlton Heston Mort Mills Orson Welles shades car smoking

  • Charlton Heston plays the Mexican narcotics cop Miguel “Mike” Vargas. With his shades and mustache, Charlton has never looked so damn fookin cool.
  • Another too cool for school scene is the close up of Charlton’s Vargas and Al Schwartz (Mort Mills) speeding through the Mexican streets in the 1956 Desoto Fireflite Convertible. Another perfect moment. I could just watch that on rewind.

Touch Of Evil (1958) Charlton Heston Mort Mills 1956 Desoto Fireflite Convertible driving street mexico

  • The Mexican beatnik gangster youths and their reefer madness jittering and nodding to the beat, willing to terrorise at the drop of a hat.
  • Orson Welles Police Captain Hank Quinlan in his fat suit and made to be chubbier than real life with the edition of a fake nose. Funny thing I read, arriving at a dinner party in between shots he’d stayed in character hoping to save time on makeup. A famous actress approached him when he entered and in all seriousness said: “Orson! You look wonderful!
  • Janet Leigh’s character Susan Vargas is so wonderfully feisty and of all her great scenes she has, the one that really stood out for me was with ‘Uncle’ Joe Grandi (Akim Tamiroff) within the hotel lobby at the beginning.

Touch Of Evil (1958) Janet Leigh feisty Akim Tamiriff cigar

  • Captain Hank Quinlan’s loyal and devoted Sergeant Pete Menzies (Joseph Calleia) was a joy to watch as he follows and helps Hank out on the mystery investigation.
  • Loved the way the music flowed through the film. Mainly coming from car radio’s or speakers in hotel etc. Composer Henry Mancini gives the themed latin swinging Tijuana jazz jive. It especially suits the opening drive through.

Shock horror, there was one tiny thing I didn’t get on with and that was Dennis Weaver’s  Motel Night Manager, who was off his rocker.  A TV legend from so many classics, Duel, McCloud, Gentle Ben but his lost his marbles part didn’t quite gel for me. It felt like it was added for a bit of comic relief?

Actually there’s many more than 10, a few honorable mentions go to the boyfriend Sanchez. Also Marlene Dietrich unique beauty and her speech. The star of the show? The stunning noir sets and the divine cinematic shots delivered at every single corner. Perfection. BRAVO.

If like me you haven’t seen it yet, get on Netflix as soon as, pour a large Herradura Añejo Tequila. Put on your shades, sit back and enjoy the drive. Though if you have, I’m sure you will be watching it again and again as I will. Bet you have fond memories of this film? Let me know if you wish. Take it easy, have fun and the enjoy movies…. Mikey Wolf

14 thoughts on “Touch of Evil (1958) Orson Welles & 10 Things That Blew Me Away!

    • Yeah I was reading about the mess the studio made of the film. Incredible that now with it’s new restored print and I’m guessing Orson’s original take of the proceedings that they can look back and think what the hell were we thinking. (probably no one left alive from the studio mind!)
      Working my way through the classics is the biggest buzz. I got that little known film of his “Citizen Kane” to watch soon hehe. I saw it on telly in my youth but I never truly appreciated it. So now is the right time to fully immerse myself in it.

      Liked by 2 people

        • I still haven’t seen The Magnificent Ambersons. Be interesting to see and read about the production difficulties when I’ve seen it.
          I keep reading about the fabled The Other Side Of The Wind which may or may not ever get done. A strange one to try and build around such limited actual footage. Still it’s very interesting reading about it and I believe Netflix may be interested. Seems like an impossible project!!

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Great post 🙂 I love Touch of Evil and I would probably rank it higher than Citizen Kane in terms of my favorite films directed by Orson Welles. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m starting to hear a lot of that as I venture into the world of orson. I did watch Kane when I was young but truth be told it went over my head. So I very intrigued to be going into at a later stage. Very much looking forward to it but can’t see it topping Touch Of Evil. But hey can’t wait to find out 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Mikey, any idea which version you watched…the original theatrical release, the preview version, or the restored version? After years of watching the theatrical version, I picked up a DVD set that had all three versions, and I watched the restored one, which was re-cut based on Orson’s long memo he wrote to the studio, telling them how it SHOULD play out. Well, this version was really cool…everything seemed to flow much more smoothly, and what’s funny is, it felt like it had a shorter running time…and it was actually almost twenty minutes longer! I guess Orson knew what he was talking about all along!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not sure which one tbh Todd. I did hear about all the cut versions. Amazing to read that Orson sent that massive memo to the studio. You can imagine their faces when they saw it. LOL.. I watched the version that is on Netflix at the moment with a runtime of 1h35m. Have to say it looked beautiful and flowed like silk. The DVD sounds ace with all the different versions. Heston as a mustachioed Mexican narcos agent has never looked cooler.

      Like

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