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"Touch of Evil" is simply a masterpiece of film noir from Orson Welles, seen here uncut and restored in the way Welles intended it to be seen. This film features outstanding performances from Welles as Hank Quinlan, an amoral police chief and Charlton Heston as Ramon Miguel 'Mike' Vargas, an upright Mexican narcotics detective who clashes with Quinlan. Janet Leigh plays Susan, Heston's wife, to great effect, meddling where she shouldn't and getting caught up in a complex web of criminality and deceit. Small but effective performances from Zsa Zsa Gabor (!) and Marlene Dietrich round out the cast; there is not a substandard performance in the mix.

The lighting and direction are particularly noteworthy here and the extras include Welles' production notes, a great addition. Some of the editing and camera work hints at surrealism, but it's very cohesive when viewed as a whole. Welles borders on going over the top in his characterization of the seedy Quinlan on occasion, while Heston is restrained in comparison. For those who believe that Heston wasn't up to the task of playing a subtly nuanced Mexican lawman, I ask you to watch the film first, as this role was surely one of the finest of his career.

From the great performances, inspired direction and editing, and sordid plot of underworld intrigue, to the perfectly disturbing score by Henry Mancini, "Touch of Evil" should be seen by anyone who truly appreciates film.
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on June 20, 2014
Cinematic giant (literal and figurative) Orson Welles produced, directed and starred in this late 50's film noir classic of corruption, murder, debauchery, betrayal, drugs, and eventual karmic justice in a small town by the Mexican border.
Charlton Heston plays Vargas: a Mexican drug law enforcement officer who falls prey to a crafty and corrupt Captain Quinlan, played by Welles, a police captain with more than a few dirty tricks up his sleeve to get what he wants. Marlene Dietrich plays Tana, and assumes a darker persona, (complete with a total subjugation of her famous golden locks), playing a fortune teller/hostess with a melancholic surrender to what her life has become in the dark and dreary border town that is the story's backdrop. Janet Leigh is Heston's new American wife Susie, who comes into contact with the world Vargas knows and accepts all too well. Susie is frightened by what she sees and ultimately becomes a victim of Quinlan's dangerous game.
The dialogue is fast and often times overlapping, a sort of trademark of Welles' film style. Action and suspense are crammed into just about every scene. The movie begins with probably the best ever long shot of an impending assassination by car bomb at the Mexican border. The suspense continues with a defenseless Susie's run in with young hoodlums on a mission. The cinematic joyride is only over when Dietrich's character walks off into the horizon.
On a historical note, the movie (as many of Welles' movies) was not an initial commercial success, and was actually released as a B movie in the states by the fat heads at Universal, despite the fact that so many well-known players were on the bill (most who tripped over the chance to appear in a movie and be directed by Orson Welles, at either reduced salaries or even uncredited, such as Joseph Cotten, Zsa Zsa Gabor to name a few. Heston insisted on Welles directing). Despite his personal failings (and which genius is ever recorded as not having them) Welles gave the world an artistic vision that is, thankfully, forever preserved on film for future generations to enjoy. This movie is one more contribution to that legacy.
A superb example of creativity, with a great storyline, cinematography and acting. Highly recommend it to any film buffs who want to experience a true 'touch of greatness'.
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on April 28, 2017
The masterful cinematography, irresistible score, first-rate script, and A-List cast save TOUCH OF EVIL from its flaws. Vargas and his wife are too innocent to be believed, but we forgive the novelist because he cleverly pitts a good that is too good against an evil that is too evil. Gifted Captain Quinlan whose tragic flaw undoes him meets his match in a Detective Vargas who is saved from his mistakes by the power of his ideals.
TOUCH OF EVIL is film noir that shades into horror. Orson Welles in his heyday. Charleton Heston's best work.
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on July 3, 2017
Without stumbling into racial or class stereotypes, which lay all over the story like landmines, this movie tells the story about a corrupt society and all the dangers it contained. The colorful characters all came to life quickly making lots of targets for the viewer to hate, love, support, and feel a range of other emotions. Credit to Orson Welles for navigating all the other directions this movie could have gone toward, and retaining the strong, riveting story, providing an entertaining and dramatic story with characters who, in some instances could be one dimensional, but when included in to story, color it and make the story strong and dynamic.
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on August 16, 2016
I just finished watching the 108 Minute Preview Edition. As some of you know this edition this "Cut" includes footage that was shot by another director. AS of this time this is the only version that I have seen. There is 2 more "Cuts" One is the restored so-called "Directors Cut" and the Original Theatrical Edition. I will get around to watching those editions but this review is about the "Preview Edition".

Say what you want about Orson Welles but when you do please do not forget the word "genius".

Orson Welles always payed a heavy price for "Citizen Kane". His directorial film debut was treated like by the studio like Nuclear Waste and later on so was Orson.

This film was also treated poorly by the studio. This time it wasn't RKO but Universal. At the time that Welles made this film the studio had no idea (At The Time) what a masterpiece they had.

Now Orson film was taken away from him and portions were re-shot and some footage was added.

In this film A Newly Married Couple find themselves in the cross hairs of well regarded highly praised Police Detective. The film starts off in a Mexican town along the U.S.–Mexico border, a time bomb is planted in a car. Rudy Linnekar (Jeffrey Green) and woman Zita enter the vehicle and make a slow journey through town to the U.S. border, the woman (Joi Lansing) insisting that she hears something ticking. Newlyweds Miguel "Mike" Vargas (Charlton Heston), a drug enforcement official in the Mexican government, and his wife Susie (Janet Leigh) pass the car several times on foot. The car crosses the border, then explodes, killing the occupants.

What happens next I won't say. You should watch and enjoy this film without knowing too much about the film before watching!
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on June 1, 2016
I had read quite a lot about this movie, but had never seen it, even on television, until I purchased this DVD. It was well worth it, because this is a terrific 1958 film-noir crime drama. Orson Welles (who also directed) stars as corrupt police chief Hank Quinlan, whose adversary is Mexican private investigator Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston). At the beginning of the film, a couple is mysteriously murdered when their car explodes (dynamite was planted in the trunk) near the U.S.-Mexican border. Quinlan "frames" an innocent young Mexican national for the murder, although after Quinlan was killed in a gunfight near the end of the film, we discover that the young Mexican national actually confessed to the crime, proving Quinlan right after all.

The superb cast includes Janet Leigh as Vargas' devoted wife, Susan; Dennis Weaver (Gunsmoke - 50th Anniversary Collection, Volumes 1 & 2), as a hotel night manager; longtime Welles player Ray Collins (Perry Mason: Complete Series Pack) as a district attorney, and many, many more. The late, great Henry Mancini's score, which blends jazz, Latin rhythms, and early rock 'n' roll, is so good, I purchased the soundtrack CD.

When this film was issued in 1958, it was heavily edited over Orson Welles' objections; this DVD is from a 1998 re-edit, which restores much of what Welles originally wanted. One of the DVD's bonus features is Welles' 50-page handwritten memo with his requested changes. Other features including cast and filmmaker bios, production notes, a theatrical trailer, and promos for several Alfred Hitchcock films, including trailers for Psycho and Vertigo.

While TOUCH OF EVIL is no Citizen Kane (70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition), it comes pretty darn close. It also proves that movies actually made in 1958 are far better than 2016 reimaginings of 1958. Five stars.
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on June 28, 2016
For when the movie was made, it's a great movie. Modern-day viewers will likely find it racist, sexist, and offensive by modern standards. After all, Charlton Heston is in "brown face" as a Mexican citizen, speaking poorly accented Spanish, and generally having a horrid time pretending to not be a caucasian American. Don't fault him or his acting for that, though - this was the same Hollywood era that gave us a different white guy as a horribly stereotyped and offensive Asian American three years after 'Touch of Evil' came out. Overall, this is an enjoyable movie, if one can find it funny instead of offensive when it shows its era - the directing, acting, script, and other cinematic details like costuming and set are all great.
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on November 6, 2014
Finally after a long wait we get to see in 1080p and DTS HD MA sound quality 3 versions of Orson Welles' great movie! Let's not get carried away here as some reviewers have done as while this is a very good film and is one of the last black and white noirs released on film this is certainly not better than Citizen Kane which remains Welles' masterpiece and one of the films I never tire of viewing. As for this release I personally enjoyed all three versions although I accept that as Welles' didn't have final cut that this film could have been even better had the director been given a freer hand like he had been with Kane. Still, this film about corruption in a border town is a real treat for film buffs and those like me who watch films for the goodies the director has in stall for the viewer much more so than for who and which stars are on. Welles digs deep in his tool chest for this one and the great opening long uninterrupted cut is a beauty to behold and is still talked about today. The picture quality of this blu ray release is very decent given the age of the original masters but it isn't perfect as some fine white lines are still present on some frames among a few other imperfections although these for the most part are slight and thankfully do not detract from the overall viewing enjoyment. The 58-page booklet containing Welles' famous memo is also included and it is fun to follow along while watching to see what he was talking about. This blu ray is one that I will revisit from time to time just as I fondly do with a handful of other film classics in my library and this release is certainly a worthy addition to any film buff's video library.

Highly recommended!
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on February 20, 2017
Three versions of the film plus supplemental material. Highly recommended for any student of film or the noir genre.
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on February 7, 2016
This was an upgrade for me from the DVD. The picture quality was good and the two extras featuring some of the actors and a part of the restoration team were interesting and informative. There are also two commentary tracks which I have not listened to yet as I am not a great fan of these.
The film has elements of melodrama which is common to the film noir genre. But the use of locations, the cinematography, including the first use of a hand held camera, are consistently engaging.
First rate and a necessity for film noir and Welles fans.
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