IMDb Top 250: #221 Touch of Evil

Touch of Evil (1958)

Director: Orson Welles
Writers: Orson Welles (screenplay), Whit Masterson (based on the novel “Badge Of Evil” by)
Stars: Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Janet Leigh

A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town.




Touch of Evil is the last movie Orson Welles ever directed for a Hollywood studio. It was significantly altered by the studio, and maybe we can blame Universal for the mess this movie is.

The opening shot shows a bomb being planted in the boot of a car on the Mexican side of the US-Mexican border. The car is driven across the border by construction tycoon Rudy Linnekar and his female companion, but explodes within seconds of arriving in the States. The explosion is witnessed by Mexican police detective Mike Vargas and his American wife Susan.

Touch of Evil has a lot of plot, but it’s more of a character driven story. But everything is so crowded. The style… the notion of it being artistic in a way few people can envision, is another frustrating aspect. It’s a poor idea of a film-noir. It’s a poor idea of a film. It’s just not worth the time, not even for the sake of Orson Welles brilliant manner of acting.

Maybe this movie could have been different, where it not for the way in which the studio intervened and altered things, but the truth is, there’s so much going on that I am not sure if anything could have saved this movie from being the jumbled mess that it is.

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