Sunday, September 11, 2011

Touch of Evil

A hoodlum shows a stick of dynamite to the camera and then places it in the trunk of a car and we follow it in an incredible tracking shot as a tycoon and his mistress get it in, cross the Mexican border to America, and are blown to bits. An investigation ensues led by rotund, corrupt, and highly reputable Captain Quinlan given a hand by Mexican police officer Vargas who is on his honeymoon with his young bride. As the investigation takes its course, Vargas realizes that Quinlan is planting evidence and the odious captain wants the impinging foreigner out of his hair. "Touch of Evil" is the brilliant and impeccably composed work of Orson Welles who wrote, directed, and starred in this border tale of police malfeasance. Starring as Captain Quinlan, Welles dives head on into the despicable and remorseless character, crafting a frightening presence. Charlton Heston, though oddly cast as a Mexican, is nonetheless powerful as the righteous lawman. Janet Leigh is fine as well as his bride and pawn in Welles's sick game. The shadows and angles of the camera are remarkable here and, along with the devilish turns, have the capacity to take your breath away. "Touch of Evil" is an uncommonly good film and one that engages you in a way that few films do.