Touch of Evil

Thursday, May 21 at 7:00pm | Regular admission prices

Part of our month-long celebration of The Films of Orson Welles! Click here for the full schedule

Welles’ hallucinatory, off-kilter thriller Touch of Evil, an A-list production with a B-movie heart, is a deliriously pulpy tale of murder, corruption and other bad behavior south of the border. Charlton Heston stars as a Mexican-born policeman trapped in Tijuana, where a corpulent, corrupt cop (Welles, in a performance of epic depravity) goes to extreme lengths to stop him from digging into the past. Janet Leigh co-stars as Heston’s new bride, who is viciously drawn into the ever-widening web of danger.

“Bravura filmmaking … expressionistic in the extreme, Welles’ astonishing Touch of Evil raises the usual brooding nightmare ambience of film noir to a level few other pictures have attempted.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Loosely adapted from the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson, Touch of Evil is a stunning exploration of good and evil steeped in a nightmarishly sinister atmosphere, helped along by the shadow-laden cinematography of Russell Metty and by the unforgettable supporting cast, including Akim Tamiroff as a sleazy kidnapper; Marlene Dietrich, in a brunette wig, as a world-weary Gypsy madam who delivers the movie’s unforgettable closing words; Mercedes McCambridge as a leather-clad junkie delinquent; and Dennis Weaver as a stammering motel clerk. Welles admitted this was the least tampered with of all his films since Citizen Kane, and yet, unhappy with his editing ideas, Universal fired him during post-production, added new scenes and placed the opening credits over the famously bravura tracking shot that kick-starts the film. In 1998, the film was finally re-cut to Welles’ original specifications, based on a 58-page memo he had written after he was barred from the editing room during the film’s initial post-production. This restored version, which will be shown at this screening, is now considered the director’s cut, making one of  Orson Welles’ greatest films even greater. (Dir. by Orson Welles, 1958, USA, 111 mins., Rated PG-13)