Touch of Evil

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“Touch of Evil” it’s a thriller film of 1958 directed by Orson Welles. It is considered one of Welles’ masterpieces and one of the great classics of the noir genre.

The film is set in Los Robles, a border town between the United States and Mexico, where corrupt police detective Hank Quinlan, played by Orson Welles, becomes involved in a murder case. The film explores themes such as corruption, abuse of power and the darkness of the human soul.

One of the distinguishing features of “Touch of Evil” is the famous opening sequence, which consists of a long shot of over three minutes without cuts. This scene has become famous for its technical complexity and for its ability to involve the viewer from the very beginning of the film.

The cast of “Touch of Evil” also features Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and Marlene Dietrich. Welles himself memorably played the role of Quinlan, creating an ambiguous and tormented character.

The film was originally released with an edit that did not meet Welles’ expectations. However, over the years, several versions have been released, including a restored version in 1998 that followed Welles’ original directions for editing. This version is considered the most faithful to the author’s vision.

“Touch of Evilwas praised for its innovative direction, atmospheric cinematography, and intense performances from the cast. Despite its initial commercial failure, the film is now regarded as a cinematic milestone and a significant example of the genius of Orson Welles.

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Plot

touch-of-evil

“Touch of Evil” is set in the border town Los Robles, located between the United States and Mexico. The plot unfolds when a car bomb explodes, killing two people. Police detective Hank Quinlan, played by Orson Welles, is put in charge of the investigation.

Quinlan is a corrupt and unscrupulous cop, who has a reputation for solving cases in an unorthodox way. He is joined by young Mexican detective Miguel Vargas (played by Charlton Heston), who represents integrity and honesty in the police force.

While investigating the car bomb explosion, Quinlan and Vargas uncover a web of corruption, deceit and secrets involving several characters in the town, including Vargas’ beautiful wife Susan (played by Janet Leigh).

The plot is further complicated when Quinlan decides to frame an innocent suspect for the murder. Vargas, determined to unearth the truth and expose Quinlan’s corruption, clashes with his corrupt colleague, endangering his own life and that of his wife.

Over the course of the film, other enigmatic characters also emerge, such as Tanya (played by Marlene Dietrich), a brothel owner who seems to know many of the town’s secrets.

“Touch of Evil” explores themes such as corruption, abuse of power, justice and moral integrity. The plot develops through a series of twists and revelations, culminating in a dramatic climax in which the truth will finally be revealed and the characters will have to face the consequences of their actions.

The story of “Touch of Evilis a tangled web of intrigue and secrets, with Welles playing the crooked and manipulative cop trying to hide the truth. The film is a descent into the darkness of the human soul and an affirmation of the fragility of moral integrity in a corrupt world.

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Movie Characters

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Here are some of the main characters featured in the film”Touch of Evil”:

Hank Quinlan (played by Orson Welles): The protagonist of the film, a corrupt and unscrupulous police detective. Quinlan is known for solving cases in an unorthodox way and is at the center of the investigation into the car bomb explosion.

Miguel Vargas (portrayed by Charlton Heston): A young Mexican detective who is joined by Quinlan during the investigation. Vargas represents integrity and honesty in the police force and is determined to expose Quinlan’s corruption.

Susan Vargas (played by Janet Leigh): Miguel Vargas’ wife, an attractive and courageous woman. Susan becomes entangled in the plot when she becomes a target of Quinlan.

Tanya (portrayed by Marlene Dietrich): A mysterious owner of a brothel located in the border town. Tanya seems to know many secrets and has an ambiguous connection with Quinlan.

Pete Menzies (played by Joseph Calleia): A colleague of Quinlan’s who is also a police detective. Menzies is friends with Quinlan but begins to question his integrity during the car bombing investigation.

Adair (portrayed by Akim Tamiroff): A wealthy businessman involved in the illicit activities which are discovered during the investigation. Adair is one of the prime suspects linked to the car bomb explosion.

These are just some of the characters featured in the film. “Touch of Evil” also features a number of supporting characters and extras that contribute to the dark and corrupt atmosphere of the story.

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Production

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The production of “Touch of Evilwas quite complex and hit a few snags. Here are some highlights from the production of the film:

Directed by Orson Welles: Welles not only played the role of Hank Quinlan, but he was also the director of the film. After signing a deal with Universal Pictures to direct and star in the film, Welles worked on the script and furthered his vision for the film.

Problems with the studio: During production, Welles had conflicts with the studio regarding the final cut of the film. After filming was completed, Universal Pictures decided to edit Welles’ original cut without his supervision. Welles wrote letters of protest and tried to defend his artistic vision.

The opening shot: One of the distinctive features of the film is the famous opening sequence, a shot of more than three minutes without cuts. This scene was a complex technical feat, with Welles carefully planning camera movement and coordinating the actors’ actions to achieve the desired effect.

He cast: “Touch of Evilhas a talented cast, which includes Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Marlene Dietrich and others. Welles carefully chose the actors for their roles and worked with them to achieve the desired performances.

Alternate Cuts and Restoration: After the film’s original release in 1958, Universal Pictures made some editing changes. However, over the years, several versions of the film have been released, including a restored version in 1998 that followed Welles’ original directions for editing. This version is considered to be most faithful to Welles’ vision.

Despite the difficulties encountered during production and distribution, “Touch of Evil” is now considered a masterpiece of film noir and an important artistic contribution of Orson Welles.

Distribution and Reception

The distribution and reception of “Touch of Evilwere complex and controversial at the time of its 1958 release. Here are some key points regarding the film’s distribution and reception:

Distribution and Editing: Universal Pictures made several changes to Orson Welles’ original cut without his supervision. The released version initially differed from the vision of Welles, who wrote letters protesting the changes made to the studio.

Critical reception: “Touch of Evilwas met with mixed reviews from critics. Some critics praised the film for its innovative direction, atmospheric cinematography and intense performances, particularly that of Orson Welles. However, other critics were less enthusiastic and disliked the changes made to the original assembly.

Commercial Failure: Despite positive reviews, the film was initially commercially unsuccessful. It failed to achieve major box office success, possibly due to controversies surrounding its editing and distribution.

Later versions: Over the years, several versions of the film have been released, including a restored version in 1998 that followed Welles’ original directions for editing. This version met with greater critical acclaim and helped re-evaluate the film as a noir film masterpiece.

Successive Accolades: Despite initial flop, over time”Touch of Evilhas been re-evaluated and considered one of the great classics of cinema. It has been included in several lists of the best films of all time and is widely studied and appreciated by film scholars.

Despite the initial difficulties, “Touch of Evilis now regarded as one of Orson Welles’ greatest films and one of the masterpieces of the noir genre. Its artistic importance and impact on cinema have been recognized over the years since its release.

Style

The style of “Touch of Evil” is one of the distinctive and innovative elements of the film. Orson Welles, as director, experimented with different cinematic techniques to create a unique and immersive atmosphere. Here are some characteristics of the style of “Touch of Evil”:

Long shots and camera movements: The film is known for its elaborate and complex long shots, especially the famous opening sequence. Welles uses the moving camera to guide the viewer through the setting and to create a sense of tension and dynamism.

Unusual camera angles: Welles exploits unusual camera angles and unusual perspectives to create a sense of distortion and suspension. The low floors, the high floors and the inclined corners help to outline the claustrophobic atmosphere and to emphasize the tensions and ambiguities of the characters.

Play of light and shadow: Welles expertly uses lighting and the contrast between light and shadow to create a dark and eerie atmosphere. The chiaroscuro effects accentuate the noir aspect of the film and help outline the dark side of the characters.

Depth of Field: Welles uses depth of field to highlight different elements of the image and to create a feeling of depth and visual complexity. This technique makes it possible to simultaneously capture both the details of the environment and the gestures and expressions of the characters.

Nonlinear editing: The editing of “Touch of Evil” presents a non-linear structure, in which scenes and events are presented in a non-chronological order. This stylistic choice helps build suspense and gradually reveal the film’s complex plot.

Welles’ use of these techniques gives “Touch of Evila distinctive visual aesthetic and atmospheric atmosphere. Welles’ innovative approach to cinematic style influenced many subsequent directors and made the film a landmark for noir and experimental cinema.

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Director

The director of “Touch of Evil” is Orson Welles, who is also one of the main actors in the film. Orson Welles is considered one of greatest directors in the history of cinema and one of the most influential figures in the art of cinema.

Welles is known for his bold, innovative and experimental style. His work has spanned several genres and showcased a number of cinematic techniques and innovations. In addition to being a director, Welles was also a screenwriter, producer, actor and storyteller.

Before “Touch of Evil”, Welles had already achieved great success and recognition for his debut film, Citizen Kane (1941), considered one of the best films of all time. His distinctive style, which included the use of long shots , depth of field and unusual camera angles, has helped to redefine the cinematic language.

With “Touch of EvilWelles continued to experiment and explore new artistic possibilities. He used bold visual techniques, such as the play of light and shadow and the use of depth of field, to create a uniquely immersive atmosphere in the film.

Welles was a visionary filmmaker and innovator whose influence extends far beyond his cinematic works. His contribution to cinema has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, and his artistic impact continues to be studied and celebrated to this day.

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