Touch of Evil
Directed by Orson Welles. US. 1958. PG-13. 95 minutes. Universal. Digital.
Sun., November 22, 2015
Welles showed that he hadn’t lost his touch with this almost-surreal noir thriller, set in the seamy shadow of the US/Mexico border. Charlton Heston stars as a Mexican narcotics agent, and the lovely Janet Leigh plays his newly wedded bride – a couple who are drawn into a disturbingly depraved world by the corpulent, corrupt cop, Hank Quinlan (played to the edge of parody by Orson Welles himself.) There are surprises and shudders galore, and a cast that has to be seen to be believed: e.g., Marlene Dietrich as a Mexican gypsy (complete with German accent!), Dennis Weaver (surprisingly effective as a twitchy, suspicious motel clerk), Joseph Calleia, and Akim Tamiroff, as well as cameos by the likes of Joseph Cotton, Ray Collins, Mercedes MacCambridge, and Zsa Zsa Gabor (as a strip- joint owner!) The film opens with a famous three-and-a-half minute long tracking shot and never lets go of the viewer until the final credits roll. (Bill Roth)