1202. Touch Of Evil (1958)

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7.1 Not so gripping
  • Acting 7.0
  • Directing 7.4
  • Story 6.9
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

Starring: Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles

Director: Orson Welles

Running Time: 95 mins


Touch Of Evil is an American film about a Mexican border town where, following a car bombing, police corruption and crime come to a head, and one man attempts to put an end to the madness once and for all.

Apart from Citizen Kane, this is one of Orson Welles’ most highly-acclaimed films of all time. For me, it wasn’t such a stunner, but there were still a lot of things I liked about it. For instance, the directing is excellent, and a little bit more energetic than most film-noirs, whilst the acting is pretty good too, but I just didn’t find the story too gripping, and that had a pretty big impact on how excited I was about the film as a whole.

Let’s start on the plus side, however, particularly with Orson Welles’ directing. Of course, he’s the man who began his career off with the mighty Citizen Kane, a feat few other directors have achieved, but it’s clear from Touch Of Evil that he never lost his touch of magic as his career went on.

Classic film-noirs are generally quite pretty to look at, what with the extreme shadows and Venetian blinds, but the camera work isn’t ever that exciting. Here, however, in a later film-noir, Welles manages to pull off a both mysterious and energetic vibe by using long, sweeping shots, edgier camera angles and big wide shots that give us a much greater idea of a scene than many of the best film-noirs of the 40s never really did.

Moving on to the performances, and they’re great too. Welles plays a surly police detective and is brilliantly loathsome throughout, no matter what side of the law he’s on, whilst Charlton Heston fantastically plays the heroic officer, and Janet Leigh, although her character isn’t really given much to do after the first act, is still entertaining. Also, there’s a small role for ultra-classic star Marlene Dietrich, and even though she doesn’t do too much either, whenever she’s on screen, she has a very imposing presence, and impressively so.

What I wasn’t so impressed by, however, with Touch Of Evil, was the plot. Yes, there are intricacies and complex backstabbings, but in general, it’s all a bit convoluted, and doesn’t come together in the end how I wanted it. The ending in and of itself is great, and definitely the most exciting part of the whole film, but I think the rest of the story suffers from jarring shifts in tone between pure mystery and trying to be rigorous and exciting, whilst the two separate story lines that develop as the plot goes along actually diverge more and more, and then don’t fit back together so well when it all comes to an end.

Overall, Touch Of Evil is a well-made and well-acted film, and one that I enjoyed watching, but I wasn’t so impressed with the plot that left me often confused and unsatisfied, so that’s why it gets a 7.1 from me.

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com