Touch of Evil (1958)

Written & Directed by Orson Welles

Orson Welles is such a giant figure, even having seen only two of his features (Citizen Kane, F for Fake) I am privy to this knowledge. Everybody is familiar with his giant revolutionary production of Citizen Kane, which I assume the majority of people reading this have seen. Coupling that with F for Fake, it is evident that Welles has the flair for the dramatic, as well as for the excellent. Touch of Evil is no different, though it does further educate me on actor Charleton Heston, whom I only know from my childhood Easter viewings of The Ten Commandments as well as The Planet of the Apes, which I am sure I saw at one point, though I don’t recall much about it. So needless to say I know him more as that NRA guy who used to act than I do as a Hollywood legend. Oh yea, and Janet Leigh. She’s that chick from Psycho. I assume she is a star too.

So Mr. Welles constructs a nice little film noir for us. For the record, I saw the restored “memo” edition of the film. Not sure if that matters, though it seems to me to be the more correct way to see the film, I don’t know. Of course, the film opens with the magnificent long take. I love long takes. They just seem to be universally awesome and I can’t really say why. I think it has something to do with trying to figure out where the scene is going and when they will finally make that cut. It is a good way to create tension I have found, even though I can’t tell you how few I have actually seen, but this one is pretty good, and throws us right into the crazy mix of the story, which is fairly interesting. Though I seemed to have found myself only with a minor involvement with the film. It failed to ever really grab me or engross me past the opening sequence.

The film is quite good and I found the visual element to be the most striking. Welles’ style is awesome and makes it always interesting to at least look at, but at the end of the day I was slightly underwhelmed with where this one went and how it got there. It didn’t seem to be very mysterious or thrilling to me, which is what it was supposed to be, I think. It also seems weird reading about the history of the film. Who approved the re-cut of the director of Citizen Kane‘s new film and make it be a B-movie presentation in the double feature? Just seems weird. I do think this might age well/improve with a second viewing at some point, so I will keep it in the back of my mind and make sure not to forget about it. All in all, it does not harm Welle’s reputation with me, though it also doesn’t impress me more than his other two efforts I’ve seen. That is, Touch of Evil does not build on his mystique, just solidify that it exists.

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