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An American film noir by Orson Welles. A car blows up in San Diego, killing a few people, and it is not an accident. The American cop in charge, Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles), starts the inquiry, using his usual methods, which include finding somebody who might be the culprit, and from then on not caring about anything close to "his rights". However, a Mexican cop, Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston), who is on his honeymoon here with his American wife (Janet Leigh), gets involved with the inquiry. He has a higher standard for human rights, and tries to get the accused Mexican a fair inquiry ; but in the process he gets his wife into trouble with the local mob ...

After the failure of The Lady From Shangai, Hollywood Executives would not let Welles direct one of their movies. However, when they proposed Vargas's role to Charlton Heston, he said he'd agree to star in any movie directed by Welles... who then got the job. In the cast there is also Marlene Dietrich, who plays Quinlan's old lover ; she wasn't in the original cast, but she wanted to help her friend Orson. The executives saw her in the rushes, and decided to pay her nonetheless...

Touch Of Evil is a B movie, but a B movie on a great scale. The studio didn't expect such a good movie when they planned it ; and they didn't know what to do of it, releasing it with almost no publicity. Like most of other Welles' movies, it was badly recut after it was finished by Welles. The first shot, long and impressive, had titles and music superimposed over it, lessening its effect. However a director's cut was made recently, according to editing directions Welles had made at the time.

Orson Welles cinematography is as good as usual, using perfectly the dark mood of Tijuana and San Diego, with many tilted frames showing the madness of the characters. And of course, his acting as the evil Quinlan is outstanding. He is able to give the character, whom he says he despises, convincing motivation, and at the end the spectator usually roots for him rather than for the goodie-goodie Vargas.

And thanks to the IMDB, here are the cast and crew

Orson Welles
Captain Hank Quinlan
Charlton Heston
Ramon Miguel 'Mike' Vargas
Janet Leigh
Susan Vargas
Joseph Calleia
Sgt. Pete Menzies
Akim Tamiroff
"Uncle Joe" Grandi
Joanna Cook Moore
Marcia Linnekar
Marlene Dietrich
Orson Welles
ScreenPlay, Director
Albert Zugsmith
Henry Mancini
Russell Metty

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