Touch of Evil

Touch of Evil movie poster
MPAA rating: PG-13
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Orson Welles's 1958 thriller revolves around a murder investigation in a Mexican border town.
Starring: Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles, Akim Tamiroff, Joseph Calleia, Dennis Weaver, Joanna Moore, Valentin de Vargas, Ray Collins, Mort Mills
Director: Orson Welles
Running time: 1:35

Editorial Review

The Plot: This film is a smear of greatness. Marlene Dietrich – who appears in Orson Welles' fabulous 1958 film noir as a Mexican fortune teller known far and wide for her great chili – sums it up best when she tells the great Orsoni: "Honey, you're a mess!" And he is a mess, but it's one of the most insanely entertaining messes ever made. Welles casts himself as a blundering, immense anti-Falstaff, a corrupt border town cop who has a long history of fabricating evidence. When he tries this trick one too many times, a Mexican narcotics investigator (played by Chuck Heston) realizes what a crook he is, and sets out to expose him. Welles's Hank Quinlan retorts by directing a Mexican mob to harass and ultimately torment his young American wife – Janet Leigh, so perky she'll make your gums ache. That only gets Heston's Mike Vargas mad! But the plot is largely meaningless: What grabs in this movie is Welles' swirling style, his use of grotesques (look for Dennis Weaver in a very strange turn), his brilliant schemes of action. For buffs, the good news in this restored, re-edited "director's cut" is that the three-minute one-take opening sequence has been restored to its purity; whereas in earlier, studio-edited versions it unspooled under the credits! – Stephen Hunter, Washington Post staff writer

Green Light Stephen Hunter – Style section,
"The greatness of ["Psycho"] is beyond argument, and now, happily, so is ["Touch of Evil"].