Touch of Evil

When a car bomb explodes on the American side of the U.S./Mexico border, Mexican drug enforcement agent Miguel Vargas begins his investigation, along with American police captain Hank Quinlan. When Vargas begins to suspect that Quinlan and his shady partner, Menzies, are planting evidence to frame an innocent man, his investigations into their possible corruption quickly put himself and his new bride, Susie, in jeopardy.
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Credits: TheMovieDb.

Film Cast:

  • Ramon Miguel Vargas: Charlton Heston
  • Susan ‘Susie’ Vargas: Janet Leigh
  • Police Captain Hank Quinlan: Orson Welles
  • Police Sergeant Pete Menzies: Joseph Calleia
  • ‘Uncle’ Joe Grandi: Akim Tamiroff
  • Marcia Linnekar: Joanna Moore
  • District Attorney Adair: Ray Collins
  • Mirador Motel Night Manager: Dennis Weaver
  • Pancho: Valentin de Vargas
  • Al Schwartz – District Attorney’s Assistant: Mort Mills
  • Manelo Sanchez: Victor Millan
  • Risto – Grandi’s Nephew: Lalo Rios
  • Pretty Boy: Michael Sargent
  • Blaine: Phil Harvey
  • Zita: Joi Lansing
  • Chief Gould: Harry Shannon
  • Tanya: Marlene Dietrich
  • Strip-Club Owner: Zsa Zsa Gabor
  • Young Delinquent (uncredited): Joe Basulto
  • Bobbie (uncredited): Yolanda Bojorquez
  • Coroner (uncredited): Joseph Cotten
  • Lackey (uncredited): Domenick Delgarde
  • Jackie (uncredited): Jennie Dias
  • Policeman (uncredited): John Dierkes
  • Lia (uncredited): Eleanor Dorado
  • Stripper Sitting at Bar (uncredited): Eva Gabor
  • Rudy Linnekar (uncredited): Jeffrey Green
  • Construction Site Foreman (uncredited): Billy House
  • Gang Leader (uncredited): Mercedes McCambridge
  • Ginnie (uncredited): Arlene McQuade
  • Gang Member (uncredited): Ken Miller
  • Man in Uniform Running Down Street (uncredited): Ralph Moratz
  • Gang Member (uncredited): Ramón Rodríguez
  • Eddie Farnham (uncredited): Gus Schilling
  • Marcia Linnekar’s Attorney (uncredited): William Tannen
  • Gang Member (uncredited): Wayne Taylor
  • Detective Casey (uncredited): Rusty Wescoatt
  • Customs Officer (uncredited): Dan White
  • Bartender (uncredited): Keenan Wynn

Film Crew:

  • Director: Orson Welles
  • Original Music Composer: Henry Mancini
  • Art Direction: Robert Clatworthy
  • Set Decoration: John P. Austin
  • Sound: Leslie I. Carey
  • Editor: Aaron Stell
  • Additional Writing: Paul Monash
  • Additional Writing: Franklin Coen
  • Editor: Virgil W. Vogel
  • Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen
  • Set Decoration: Russell A. Gausman
  • Additional Editing: Edward Curtiss
  • Director of Photography: Russell Metty
  • Costume Design: Bill Thomas
  • Makeup Artist: Bud Westmore
  • Novel: Whit Masterson
  • Producer: Albert Zugsmith
  • Title Graphics: Wayne Fitzgerald
  • Assistant Director: Harry Keller
  • Stunts: David Sharpe
  • Assistant Editor: Ernest J. Nims
  • Music Supervisor: Joseph Gershenson
  • Makeup Artist: Monty Westmore
  • Makeup Artist: Maurice Seiderman
  • Camera Operator: James V. King
  • Additional Soundtrack: Barney Kessel
  • Gaffer: Vic Jones
  • Script Supervisor: Betty A. Griffin
  • Assistant Director: Terence Nelson
  • Technical Supervisor: Robert Tafur
  • Still Photographer: Sherman Clark
  • Hairstylist: Merle Reeves
  • Makeup Artist: Vincent Romaine
  • Assistant Director: Phil Bowles
  • Wardrobe Designer: Claire Cramer
  • Wardrobe Master: Nevada Penn
  • Assistant Camera: Roy Vaughn

Movie Reviews:

  • Wuchak: Welles/Heston B&W cult noir is great on a technical level, but meh as a viewing experience

    On the Texas border a Mexican detective (Charlton Heston) assists an American investigation into a shocking murder of an American official on the border, but he soon learns that the imposing & slovenly Sheriff (Orson Welles) is shady with a penchant for framing. Janet Leigh is on hand as the detective’s new bride, an American.

    “Touch of Evil” (1958) was written/directed by Welles (loosely based on a book) and has a huge reputation as a B&W noir-ish cult flick. There ARE interesting technical things going on as far as camera angles, lighting and impressive long takes (e.g. the opening sequence). It also has a notable classic cast with Leigh thoroughly stunning, not to mention Joanna Moore, Marlene Dietrich, Joi Lansing and a cameo by Zsa Zsa Gabor on the female front.

    Yet I otherwise found the picture talky, nigh surreal and noticeably hokey with an unengrossing story and dubious acting, e.g. the hooligan Mexicans and the eye-rolling Shakespearean lunatic “night man” (Dennis Weaver). Seriously, viewing this film is like entering Welles’ head on an acid trip.

    That said, the film offers quite a bit to digest and I could see it playing better on additional viewings, which explains its cult status, but I’m not interested. There are far more fascinating and compelling B&W dramas with noteworthy casts from that general era, like “The Misfits” (1963).

    I viewed the long reconstructed version, aka the “director’s cut,” which runs about 110 minutes while the original studio-butchered version runs 93 minutes. Interestingly, the film wasn’t shot anywhere near the border, let alone the Texas border, but in freakin’ Venice, Los Angeles.

    GRADE: C

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