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Touch Of Evil

Touch Of Evil“A young woman on her honeymoon
  is abducted and subjected to a
  traumatic experience in an attempt by
  a corrupt American policeman and
  a Mexican crime lord to frame her
  husband in a Touch Of Evil
...”

ONE OF CINEMA'S FINEST FILMS, the 1958 movie a Touch Of Evil deserves its reputation for what is said to be not only one of the most brilliant opening sequences in the history of cinema, but also ending with one of the most brilliant final scenes ever.

In a story with moral, sexual, racial and aesthetic attitudes that remain radical, crossing borders established not only in 1958 but also in the present age, Touch Of Evil opens with newlyweds Mexican Chief of Narcotics Ramon Miguel 'Mike' Vargas (Charlton Heston: The Planet Of The Apes; Ben Hur; Soylent Green) and his wife Susie (Janet Leigh: Psycho, 1960) strolling through the streets of a Mexican town just across the American border.

A Cadillac driven by wealthy American businessman Rudolph Linnekar, accompanied by stripper girlfriend Zita (Joi Lansing), drives slowly past them. The camerwork is superb, switching between the two couples as they make their way through the streets. As Linnekar drives across the border into the United States, the peaceful scene is shattered. Someone has put a bomb in his car boot and it explodes, killing the car's occupants. A worried Mike sends Susie back to the motel for safety, little realising that he has sent her into danger.

Susie is approached by a young man, Risto (Lalo Rios) who takes her to see his uncle, Joe Grandi (Akim Tamiroff). He tries to intimidate Susie, who doesn't realise he is a crime boss who has a vendetta against Mike for the prosecution of his brother.

Enter respected and revered Police Captain Hank Quinlan (the magnificent Orson Welles in one of the most imposing and unforgettable screen performances of his career), who is something of a local police celebrity. Quinlan is accompanied by his close friend, Police Sergeant Pete Menzies (Joseph Calleia).

Linnekar's daughter Monica (Joanna Moore) dispassionately identifies her father and a suspicious Quinlan questions her and her lover, Manelo Sanchez (Victor Millan). Mike is already investigating the murder and has spoken to Sanchez at Monica's apartment. So when Quinlan apparently discovers explosives in the bathroom and arrests Sanchez, he realises the evidence has been planted.

Alone at the Mirador Motel with only a nervous night manager (the wonderful Dennis Weaver: Duel; television's Gunsmoke) for company, Susie is kidnapped by Grandi's menacing hoods (including one played by the marvellous Mercedes McCambridge).

Oblivious to Susie's danger, Mike is beginning to realise that Pete is covering up something for Quinlan, who seems to be out of control. Even so, Quinlan's former lover, gypsy tarot reader Tanya (the inimitable Marlene Dietrich: Shanghai Express; Morocco; Blonde Venus; The Blue Angel) cannot distance herself from him.

Mike now realises the danger Susie is in and must find her fast. With the help of Assistant District Attorney Al Schwartz (Mort Mills) he is getting closer to discovering just how corrupt the Police Captain is — and the lengths Quinlan is prepared to go to in order to stop Mike from ruining his career.

Orson Welles (in one of his most iconic roles) is simply perfect, bringing to this role his great acting talent. Touch Of Evil is often cited alongside Citizen Kane as the legendary director's greatest work. The gifted cast adds to the drama of this superb film and many actors rank it among the favourite film of their careers.

Touch Of Evil as it was released in 1958 did not exactly fit Orson Welles' vision and in 1957 he had written a lengthy, well-constructed memo to studio heads taking issue with a studio rough-cut. It had some influence on the subsequent preview version shown to test audiences that was rediscovered in the mid-1970s and also the 1958 theatrical version.

Touch Of Evil has taken many forms. In 1998, Universal produced a reconstructed version, that by taking into meticulous account the totality of Welles' memo, ostensibly represents the version of the film that most closely realises his original wishes.

Orson Welles' final studio-system picture has at last become secure in its status as one of the greatest films ever made. It remains a testament to the genius of Welles and has been described as "a film of Shakespearean richness; inexhaustible".

A terrific thriller perfectly encapsulating both the spirit of the times and the dramatic style of the era, Touch Of Evil takes a lofty place as an intriguing, thrilling and well-paced film.

Touch Of Evil also features: Zsa Zsa Gabor as a Strip Club Owner; Joseph Cotton as the Coroner; Keenan Wynn as Marcia Linnekar's Attorney; Ray Collins as D A Adair; Valentin de Vargas as Pancho; Michael Sargent as Pretty Boy; Phil Harvey as Blaine; and Harry Shannon as Chief Gould.

The Screenplay was Written by Orson Welles from the novel Badge Of Evil by Whit Masterson; Paul Monash Contributed Additional Scenes for the original theatrical release; Franklin Coen is also a contributing writer; Directed by Orson Welles.

The Masters Of Cinema release contributes towards honouring Orson Welles with this special two-disc, Blu-ray-only edition of Touch Of Evil, presented in six versions and with a limited edition two-disc Blu-ray Steelbook (exclusive to HMV), released on 14 November 2011. Certificate: 12 | Running Time: 111 & 109 & 96 Minutes | RRP: 22.99 / 29.99 (HMVSteelbook) | Catalogue Number: EKA70037 / EKA70048 (HMV Steelbook) | Barcode: 5060000700374 / 560000700480 (HMV Steelbook)

The Special two-disc Blu-ray-only edition includes three versions of Orson Welles' film: the 1998 Reconstruction (in both 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 aspect ratios); the 1958 Preview Version, rediscovered in the mid-1970s (in 1.85:1); the 1958 Theatrical Version (in both 1.37:1 and 1.85:1) | English SDH subtitles on all versions | Original theatrical trailer | A host of other extras presented for the first time in the UK | A lavish, illustrated, 80-page book containing the words of Orson Welles.

"A terrific thriller perfectly encapsulating both the spirit of the times and the dramatic style of the era, Touch Of Evil takes a lofty place as an intriguing, thrilling and well-paced film" — Maggie Woods, MotorBar