Thursday, September 17, 2015

1958 - TOUCH OF EVIL, on Blu Ray

Touch of Evil 
now exists in 3 different versions.  The original Universal release, the preview release, and the reedited version based on a memo Welles sent to Universal after the first preview resulted in Universal deciding to add additional scenes for plot clarification.  I'm most familiar with the original release version however I decided to watch the reedit.  I really didn't see much difference aside from dropping the credits and music during the famous long take at the beginning of the film.

This is Welles at his best.  He has complete control of the actors, atmosphere and some astonishing camera compositions.  It's hard to believe that Universal dumped this film without much marketing support.  You would think just having Charlton Heston in the cast would have been enough motivation to get behind it.

Welles put together a pretty amazing cast, starting with Charlton Heston in makeup as a Mexican police offier.  Janet Leigh is his wife.  Welles is of course the corrupt police Captain Hank Quinlan, Dennis Weaver is to put it mildly an eccentric hotel manager. An old Welles favorite Akim Tamiroff is "Uncle Joe Grandi the head of a criminal gang on a Mexican/American border town.

The cast also had an actor Joseph Calleia a Hollywood actor who Welles had seen perform on the Broadway stage before he went to Hollywood.  Welles never forgot him and was eager to cast him in Touch of Evil.  Calleia is very good as Hank Quinlan's devoted partner.  Finally Welles was able to get Marlene Dietrich to perform an extended cameo in the film and Welles old friend Joseph Cotten shows up in a small role.

This a great film noir, Welles always had a fondness for this genre.  The film is a lot of fun to watch. There is some great quotable dialog when you are not absorbed in the visual.  One of Welles best films.

95 minutes.

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