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Touch of Evil

by

Roger Davidson

Touch of Evil
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One of the greatest films in the history of cinema, Orson Welles Touch of Evil is right up there with his Citizen Kane. The film is an mystery-crime story, which takes place south of the border. A Mexican detective (Charlton Heston) is trying to solve the murder of a Mexican bigwig and his girlfriend. One of the suspects is a ruthless Mexican mobster, named "Uncle Joe" Grandi (Akim Tamiroff), who is the brother of a drug dealer Heston happens to be prosecuting at the moment. The plot thickens, as heston believes that the real culprit is the corrupt lawman Hank Quinlan (a towering performance by Orson Welles) who hates Mexicans with a vengeance. In the mean time, Heston's wife (Psycho's Janet Leigh) is caught in the middle when Tamiroff sends his cronies to take care of her.

The film is a stunning piece of work by actor-director Welles, and the performances are no less than brilliant. Leigh as Heston's innocent wife, is steadily pulled into something she really doesn't want to get into any deeper. Joseph Calleia, as Welles loyal partner, turns his loyalties over to Heston, after Welles is suspected of framing his wife for murder. The villains are well portrayed by Tamiroff and Welles. Tamiroff as the vengeful Grandi. Welles, as the racist Quinlan, who has an addiction to candy bars, is masterful. Heston is the only one who doesn't come off as well as the others. Would you believe Charlton Heston as a Mexican?! The cinematography is excellent, with one of the most famous opening shots in the history of cinema, a scene which introduces all the main characters in one extremely tense scene. Except for Citizen Kane, Orson Welles never made a better film than this.

My Rating = Four Stars


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