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Touch of Evil (1958) (Masters of Cinema) [Blu-ray]


Price: £11.69 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Touch of Evil (1958) (Masters of Cinema) [Blu-ray] + Double Indemnity [Masters of Cinema] (Blu-ray) [1944] + The Lost Weekend [Masters of Cinema] (Blu-ray) [1945]
Price For All Three: £32.04

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Product details

  • Actors: Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles
  • Directors: Orson Welles
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 14 Nov 2011
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005DDIUYM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,693 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Touch of Evil begins with one of the most brilliant sequences in the history of cinema; and ends with one of the most brilliant final scenes ever committed to celluloid. In between unfurls a picture whose moral, sexual, racial, and aesthetic attitudes remain so radical as to cross borders established not only in 1958, but in the present age also. Yet, Touch of Evil has taken many forms. The film as released in 1958 was certainly compromised from Orson Welles' vision, but a brilliant and lengthy memo written by Welles to studio heads in 1957 - taking issue with a studio rough-cut had some influence on a subsequent preview version shown to test audiences (and rediscovered in the mid-1970s) as well as the 1958 theatrical version. Forty years later, in 1998, Universal produced a reconstructed version of the film that takes into meticulous account the totality of Welles' memo, and ostensibly represents the version of the film that most closely adheres to his original wishes.

Charlton Heston portrays Mike Vargas, the Mexican chief of narcotics who sets out to uncover the facts surrounding a car bomb that has killed a wealthy American businessman on the US side of the border. As Vargas investigates, his newly-wed wife Susie (Janet Leigh, two years before Hitchcock's Psycho) is kidnapped by a gang out to exact vengeance for the prosecution of  the brother of their leader (Akim Tamiroff). Meanwhile, Vargas' enquiries become progressively more obfuscated by the American cop Hank Quinlan (played by Welles himself, in one of the most imposing and unforgettable screen performances of his career), a besotted incarnation of corruption who alternately conspires with Susie's captors and seeks solace in the brothel of the Gypsy madame (Marlene Dietrich) who comforted him in bygone times.

Welles' final studio-system picture has at last become secure in its status as one of the greatest films ever made. It remains a testament to the genius of Welles - a film of Shakespearean richness, inexhaustible.

LIMITED EDITION 2 x BLU-RAY ONLY

  • New high-definition masters of five variants of the film: the 1958 Theatrical Version in both 1.37:1 and 1.85:1, the 1958 Preview Version in 1.85:1, and the 1998 Reconstructed Version in 1.37:1 and 1.85:1
  • O4 x audio commentaries, featuring: restoration producer Rick Schmidlin; actors Charlton Heston & Janet Leigh, with Schmidlin; critic F. X. Feeney; and Welles scholars James Naremore & Jonathan Rosenbaum
  • The original theatrical trailer, which includes alternate footage
  • Bringing Evil to Life + Evil Lost and Found two video pieces [21:00 + 18:00]
  • Optional English SDH subtitles on all versions of the film
  • A 56-page booklet featuring essays by Orson Welles, François Truffaut, André Bazin, and Terry Comito; interview excerpts with Welles; a timeline of the film s history; and extensive notes on the film s versions and ratios

From Amazon.co.uk

Considered by many to be the greatest B movie ever made, the original-release version of Orson Welles' film noir masterpiece Touch of Evil was, ironically, never intended as a B movie at all--it merely suffered that fate after it was taken away from writer-director Welles, then reedited and released in 1958 as the second half of a double feature. Time and critical acclaim would eventually elevate the film to classic status (and Welles' original vision was meticulously followed for the film's 1998 restoration), but for four decades this original version stood as a testament to Welles' directorial genius. From its astonishing, miraculously choreographed opening shot (lasting over three minutes) to Marlene Dietrich's classic final line of dialogue, this sordid tale of murder and police corruption is like a valentine for the cinematic medium, with Welles as its love-struck suitor. As the corpulent cop who may be involved in a border-town murder, Welles faces opposition from a narcotics officer (Charlton Heston) whose wife (Janet Leigh) is abducted and held as the pawn in a struggle between Heston's quest for truth and Welles' control of carefully hidden secrets. The twisting plot is wildly entertaining (even though it's harder to follow in this original version), but even greater pleasure is found in the pulpy dialogue and the sheer exuberance of the dazzling directorial style. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon on 6 Jan 2005
Format: DVD
A wild, quirky ride of corruption and intrigue, this noir thriller is brilliantly acted by Orson Welles and Charlton Heston, where Welles, as an American sleazy police chief investigating a murder in a Mexican border town, tangles with Heston, as his counterpart in the town. Welles was originally just slated to act in this film, but at the insistence of Heston, he was also made director.
The critical and box office response was poor however, and so disappointing to Welles, that he never made another film in Hollywood.
The cast is terrific: Janet Leigh plays Heston's naïve bride, and Akim Tamiroff one of the town's major bad guys. It also has a number of interesting cameos (though if you blink you might miss some of them), including Joseph Cotton, Keenan Wynn, Dennis Weaver, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Mercedes McCambridge, and best of all, Marlene Dietrich, who looks up from her tarot cards to tell Welles "your future is all used up".
Russell Metty's cinematography is unique and innovative, and Henry Mancini's jazz score outstanding.
Peculiar and bizarre, this film needs more than one viewing to fully appreciate, and to sort out its complex plot of many crooked paths. Welles also wrote the script, and it is spoken in a realistic manner, with dialogue overlapping, and people talking at once.
Heston thankfully does not have accented English, but instead looks handsome with dark makeup and a mustache, on the other hand, Welles has a speech pattern that fits his seedy character, as he slurs and sputters through his words.
This is a stupendous, one-of-a-kind piece of filmmaking, now acknowledged as a classic noir.
DVD extras include Welles' memo, theatrical trailer, production notes, cast and filmmakers. The film has been beautifully restored, and total running time is 1 hour and 51 minutes.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By danijmartin on 11 Nov 2003
Format: DVD
The greatest "B movie" of all time.
What started out as a contractual obligation of Orson Welles grew into the creation of a finely directed and competently acted masterpiece of cinema history. Adapted from the book "Badge of Evil" this is a story of police corruption along the Mexican border. This film has everything! The opening sequence illuminates the flawless cinematography (this is the five minute tracking of the car), superb acting (Of course, Orson Welles and Charlton Heston are in the picture) and genre defining one liners that have become cinema history (the final word from Marlene Dietrich - need I say anymore?). This is film noir at its most bewitching. Savour every second from one of the greatest films from cinema's golden age.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Laurence Williams on 17 Dec 2011
Format: Blu-ray
The work of Orson Welles often gives rise to debate and heated argument (dating back to production, when there was a ferocious scrap between Welles and his financing studio over editing matters...), so to fire things up let me first say that I am not a big fan of his famous earlier works such as 'Citizen Kane' or 'The Magnificent Ambersons' - they simply don't excite or entertain me enough; 'Touch of Evil' on the other hand does ! I consider this film to be not only his best, but also one of the best films of all-time and certainly the best true 'Film Noir' in existence - although the much more modern, but slightly less 'Noir', Roman Polanski classic 'Chinatown' comes VERY close.....

So, a film that deserves to get the Blu-ray treatment in the hope of an improved presentation/special packaging and specialised British producer 'Eureka !' have done just that. Firstly, it should be noted that the disc content is essentially the same as the 50th anniversary DVD - but that is only available in a Region 1 guise.

It's difficult to say too much in detail about the plot without spoiling things for potential first-time viewers, but a flavour of the content is that it involves a feud between a Mexican government official and the local American police in and around a shanty town which sits right on the border separating the two countries, with the various unsavoury happenings involving murder, harassment and corruption.
Read more ›
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Andy Millward VINE VOICE on 20 Jun 2004
Format: DVD
There are several exceptional things about this DVD, not least that it has been totally restored to Welles's vision after meddling by the studio detracted from its original impact (Welles did seem prone to this kind of interference, perhaps an indication of his abrasive and independent character.)
In this form, you can drink in the seedy sleazy ambience like few other films - it's peeling off the walls, you can almost smell it. Apart from Charlton Heston and Vivien Leigh, all the characters reek of stale sweat and corruption. This is archetypal film noir, shot in dense B&W, with atmosphere derived in huge part from the brilliant cinematography, camera angles, lighting, sets, music.
Everything Welles did here is magnificent, original and innovative, none more so than the opening shot: it lasts four minutes, during which the camera swoops around the Mexican border town, spying the bomb being placed in the car boot, then interplays the traffic junctions while Heston and Leigh walk towards the border. The car comes back into shot repeatedly then stops or turns off, before they all meet again at the border post. This is filmwork fashioned from sheer genius, setting the tone for the film without words. In fact, words can barely do it justice.
The plot might be termed good old-fashioned melodrama that would not be to every taste, though in the hands of a superb cast assembled here it could scarcely be performed any better. Not the stuff of an epic, but as a film constructed in the image of its director it ranks not far short of Citizen Kane. To be admired as much as enjoyed.
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