Touch Of Evil Essay

Touch Of Evil Essay-43
Perhaps noir ground to a halt because of TOUCH OF EVIL, its gears hopelessly fouled by the rust of greed, the corrosion of failed hopes. TOUCH OF EVIL began as a workaday thriller based on a pulpy crime novel called . Perhaps noir could simply go no further than the appallingly corrupt vision of society TOUCH OF EVIL provides. It was Welles who made Venice, California double for Los Robles, a Mexican border town.

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") Surrounded as he is by weirdos like the Grandi crime family and the Shakespearean "night man" at the Grandi’s motel, Hank Quinlan seems a relatively heroic figure in a town where pathologies substitute for street addresses.

(Truffaut wondered, "Who’s to say that one day he will not make us weep over the fate of Hermann Goering?

In any case, Welles began by completely rewriting the script in two weeks, making the whodunit angle subordinate to the tale of urban and personal decay that remains the film’s most compelling constellation of ideas.

Heston says it was he who suggested that Welles direct TOUCH OF EVIL, and it appears that the studio got Welles at a bargain, "allowing" him to direct for his acting fee.

THE MALTESE FALCON’s portly "Caspar Gutman" (Sidney Greenstreet) was a faintly jesting presence in a film that finally enjoyed its own machinations; Hank Quinlan, TOUCH OF EVIL’s fat man, on the other hand, begins as a bloody-handed tyrant and ends as a lapsed romantic.

"Remind me," said an interviewer, "not to visit Venice, California." Perhaps Welles, essentially by 1958 a man without a country, had a special feeling for places like Los Robles and their local warlords. Heston remembered Welles chewing the man out after the third or forth time the shot had been wrecked: "Look, I don’t care what you say, just move your lips, we can dub it in later. He kept forgetting his single line, ruining the entire take. Several successive takes were ruined by the bit actor playing the customs man, who became terrified on seeing the huge entourage of booms, lights, cameras, actors, and vehicles bearing down on him determinedly from across town. Heston remembers trying to get in a few more takes of the film’s famous first shot before daylight. Few films have such a profoundly allegorical sense of place. We can smell garbage and waste oil blowing in on the hot Mexican wind. Truffaut again: in Hank Quinlan, Welles "designed the simplest of moralities: that of the absolute and the purity of absolutists." From the first moments of the film, TOUCH OF EVIL exults in a richly-detailed mise-en-scene. Welles’ devotion to the long take with camera movement meant that shots often became like theatrical performances, with a huge number of actors and technicians having to be coordinated to achieve a single result. The material had been planned to take three days, and the Universal suits, satisfied, left Welles in peace thereafter. Slyly, Welles included Mercedes Mc Cambridge among the motorcycle gang that terrorizes Janet Leigh. Welles also conned cronies like Joseph Cotten and Ray Collins of CITIZEN KANE, Marlene Dietrich, Dennis Weaver, Akim Tamiroff, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Harry Shannon (who’d played young Charlie Kane’s father in CITIZEN KANE) into playing small roles in the film.


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