Touch of Evil

“He was some kind of a man. What does it matter what you say about people?"

Orson Welles never was one who could direct in the Hollywood studio system without a hitch, and his last studio picture he directed, 1958’s “Touch of Evil,” stands testament to that fact. While the shoot itself went well, the film ran into its issues in post, leaving a truncated version that Welles wasn’t a part of (nor happy with) released on the bottom of a double bill. Luckily, through the plucky determination of producer Rick Schmidlin and editor Walter Murch, an extended version of the film, largely re-edited to Welles’ own notes to the studio, was cut together and released in ’98. The two iterations are night and day, and the film now stands as not only one of the great films noirs but also as one of Welles’ finest cinematic achievements. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we finish our film noir series with this magnificent, and dark, film. We talk about the problems Welles had with the post on this film and what some of the changes he wanted were, along with how they worked in the extended edition. We ruminate on the idea of Charlton Heston playing a Mexican, but pass that off as an unfortunate sign of the time and a decision needed in order to get the picture off the ground. We also talk about Janet Leigh, Joseph Calleia, Akim Tamiroff, Dennis Weaver, Marlene Dietrich, Joseph Cotten and more. And we spend a while discussing the brilliant camerawork Welles put together with his DP, Russell Metty, along with Welles’ sense of storytelling with a camera and how he was able to create amazing dances between the camera and the actors. It’s a brilliant film — one of our favorites — so go check it out then tune in!

Film Sundries

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