#96. Touch of Evil (1958)
Directed by: Orson Welles
Written by: Orson Welles (based on Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson)
Starring: Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles, Joseph Calleia, Akim Tamiroff, Marlene Dietrich, Zsa Zsa Gabor
Orson Welles truly was one of the all-time greats – the man could direct, write, and act circles around most of his contemporaries. His late film noir classic Touch of Evil is a showcase of all these incredible skills, and possibly one of Welles’ last truly “great” films. The film tells a dark tale of law enforcement corruption, conspiracy, and murder in a seedy Mexican border town. Touch of Evil stars Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh as a couple who end up in the wrong place at the right time, and Orson Welles as a corrupt, drunken cop who cannot afford to have his dirty laundry aired out to the public. Welles’ film came along after the peak of the film noir movement in Hollywood, but feels as if it was released in the heyday of the movement. It combines all the most acclaimed elements of film noir into one bleak, depressing, and refreshing tale of good people gone bad. It’s dreary atmosphere is one that can be matched by few Hollywood movies of the time, which helps to set the stage for the incredibly tense and unnerving story that unfolds over just 95 minutes. The performance by Orson Welles himself is a true highlight of the film – his drunk, depressed, and quite frankly evil Captain Quinlan is unforgettable. Check out my full length review of Touch of Evil here.