39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a dark and twisted thriller
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...
Published on 6 Jan 2005 by Alejandra Vernon
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Restored and Ruined
A great film has been ruined by changing the aspect ratio to widescreen. Actors lose the tops of their heads and the picture looks a bit fuzzy to me. But to make matters even worse, on the copy I got the sound wasn't in synch with the picture, rendering it virtually unwatchable. It went in the bin the next day. Buyer beware!
Published on 2 Aug 2007 by Mr.D.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a dark and twisted thriller,
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.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "He was a good detective, and a lousy cop",
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.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Razor edge melodrama in the image of its maker,
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.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Opening Sequence Ever?,
Dark, entertaining, messy, but very rewarding. My favourite Welles. Dietrich, Leigh & Heston on top form too. Sweaty, steamy, dark view of human falibility and complicity. But if it's not for you, this is a must see simply for the opening sequence: a complex, perfectly timed, almost balletic tracking shot as we follow a car through a mexican border town. Sit back and marvel at the genius who had the vision and the audicity to pull it off. Here's you money's worth already - regardless of the delights to follow. If you ever wondered what all the fuss was about with Welles, just invest your pennies in this and enjoy a mini masterclass.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Supreme 'Film Noir' Gets Excellent Treatment for Blu-ray,
This review is from: Touch of Evil (1958) (Masters of Cinema) [Blu-ray] (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. Add the cinematic ingredients of a presence from Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and a host of much smaller parts by VERY well-known actors, the stunning filming technique/direction of Welles, some truly grotesque/over-the-top characterisations and a rousing musical soundtrack by Henry Mancini (which really doesn't get enough mention or credit) and you can hopefully appreciate the potential for something special.
Despite not wanting to cover the plot too much, I can't proceed without mentioning the opening to the film: a miraculous, continuous, sweeping, high/low tracking scene lasting several minutes which covers the journey of specific car around the town towards and across the local border checkpoint. The composition is something to behold, especially as it also manages to include a multitude of ancillary activities as well as introducing the Heston/Leigh characters.
I've mentioned the quality of the filming and direction (Welles also wrote the screenplay, adapted from an earlier printed work by the way), but the acting techniques are also worthy of particular mention as Welles made a special effort for minimal rehearsals to be conducted. This results in the interplay between characters being particularly realistic and in-keeping with the overall (dark and sordid) tone of the film, with much interruption, unexpected 'pauses' and people speaking over each other - watching the film is almost like witnessing one big, long argument ! So, this film is dominated by Welles, both behind and in front of the camera and it is a truly exhilarating experience which also clearly influenced more recent work....
Over the most recent DVD this Blu-ray adds 'original' full-frame viewing options for the 1958 Theatrical Version and the 1998 Reconstructed Version as well as a chunky booklet AND the opportunity to get a Steelbook edition - naturally I succumbed and got the Steelbook (and have added photos of it to the main Amazon page for your perusal and titillation, but note it is only available from another retailer !). The case colouring is rather weird, a bit like the film, being an overall vivid Orange embellished with a picture of the Welles character in the film - it is labelled as being a Limited Edition, but I think that may well be just the case for the Steelbook (if the sale process for the now OOP Steelbook of the recent 'Metropolis' pressing by Eureka! is anything to go by, noting that the standard Blu-ray is still available retail...).
I already have this film on DVD, but not the latest 50th anniversary edition so the Blu-ray was a justifiable purchase - and it was worth it. I have only watched the 1998 Restored version, but can confirm that after some initial concerns (the presentation doesn't start by being particularly striking) the picture is for the most part very good, but not brilliant. I suspect that this is about as good as 'Touch of Evil' will ever be presented, but don't expect the kind of rich/supremely sharp picture some other restoration works on Blu-ray of B/W films have recently been; I think a lot of this is probably due to the filming technique, as much of it was handheld, mostly filmed in darkness with little added light and the initial production process, rather than a 'duff' restoration !
Certain scenes suffer from high levels of grain and/or blurriness - this may well be scenes that are added/not of the original version (I can't be bothered to check what bits of the film are different, sorry), but as the film progresses the presentation rapidly progresses to being permanently of the highest standard that has been achieved for the restoration. Contrast levels are good, but not starkly dark black/bright white, with an excellent level of sharpness and, especially, brightness. Edges are very well defined but there is the occasional presence of 'shimmering' from specific parts of the background and what appears to be a type of motion-blur, a bit like what poor screens display with fast-moving objects. The most vivid aspect of the presentation is the sound, which despite 'only' being 2.0 does get the DTS-HD Master Audio treatment - so it is beautifully clear, although clearly mono (you cannot improve to stereo if the original is mono so this is, again, as good as is possible) meaning that if your speakers are widely separated from the screen (like mine are, for the more usual surround sound) voices are coming from the sides, when the mouths are central !
I could notice no difference in quality between the full-frame and widescreen variants, but do note that whilst the wider format does crop the picture, comparison (which I of course did !) shows on my TV that it is only at the top (about 1/10 of the overall full-frame picture), whereas MORE is shown at the bottom and the sides - as a result I prefer the widescreen version, as I think the framing techniques employed by Welles lend themselves better to what you can see with that format (ie the sides) as opposed to full-frame.....
There is a good Internet-based review which has screen caps of various scenes/compares the different DVD/Blu-rays editions. As Amazon stops reviews containing website URLs, I have added a customer discussion with the link - it is dated 18 Jan 12 and entitled 'Link to Internet review showing screen caps of various scenes and comparison of the DVD/Blu-rays editions'.
One caveat, as mentioned a little earlier, I could not exactly reproduce the 'cropping' of the widescreen version that those comparisons show. On my TV the top is cropped but there is additional 'coverage' to the sides BUT ALSO the bottom, which the review does not show and in fact suggests that the WS version crops the bottom as well !
For 'Touch of Evil' aficionados I have one final comment about the different versions. If you watch the theatrical version the film credits are overlaid onto that marvellous opening scene BUT the ending just fades to black, whereas if you watch the restored/director's version the opening scene is shown in all its glory without any 'unwanted' intrusions but the ending fades to the film credits with a different 'flavour' to the closing music; so, for me, neither is perfect as I would like to see the restored/director's version with the 'abrupt' ending ! It would have been better if the restored/director's version had an unaltered ending, which then made a transition to the credits after a short pause (as has been done with some other classic film restorations) so you can interrupt it to get the full effect of the ending....
I have yet to sample the extras, but I am aware of many complimentary mentions for the multiple commentaries plus there are (as mentioned earlier) the same featurettes as the latest DVD so there is more to look forward to, as this film is not just entertainment but interesting as a study into filming techniques etc.
One of the most impressive films of all-time, and one of my most favourite, gets excellent treatment for this restoration. I've seen comparison screen captures to the recent 50th Anniversary DVD edition, so am confident this Blu-ray offers a worthwhile 'upgrade' option, especially if you are able to get the (collectible ?) Steelbook edition as well the informative/substantial booklet offering and the full-frame viewing options for those who prefer the film that way. In either format, overall the presentation is very good (after a slightly shaky start) with good sharpness/clarity and a clear soundtrack.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NOT the original - but still worth it,
Firstly, this is NOT - EMPHATICALLY NOT - the 1958 original. The opening contains a rationalisation of the restoration process, the screen credits are removed, and - most importantly - Henry Mancini's magnificent score is removed. If this doesn't bother you, then this ranks alongside The Maltese Falcon and The Third Man as among the greatest films of the Black and White era. Film historians and Universal Pictures please take note *This film rightly became a classic before anyone "restored" it*, and it should be available in a 2-disc edition (Somewhat in the way Blade Runner now is). Having said all that, Awesome Orson was never better than here - his portrayal of the fall of Hank Quinlan is breathtaking, and with fine performances from Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, and an underappreciated Joseph Calleia, not to mention Marlene Dietrich's last great role, there is not a dull moment in this masterpiece.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glad to finally see Touch of Evil on blu ray!! Just wished it was better...,
This review is from: Touch of Evil (1958) (Masters of Cinema) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Gotta say I am glad to see this classic in HD. All THREE versions (five, if you count the different aspect ratios) have finally seen the blu ray format. Was excited watching these, but was a bit let down by the high contrast in the picture. The grays look almost white! Some shadow detail, but not much. The Universal Anniversary DVD had a much "darker" picture that really made this film noir classic look good. The detail on the blu rays are really good (looks like very little DNR was used), but the image doesn't "Wow" me like some other blu rays of films from the '50s. Although watching the full-frame versions, the image looked better. In this case, smaller the picture...the better.
The prints are seriously clean from scratches and dirt. Each version is from different sources, of course.
The theatrical cut is presented in your choice of 1.37 or 1.85 aspect ratio. The same with the 1998 restored version (which looks best in 1.37 ratio). The preview version is presented only in 1.85. The hefty booklet that comes with it explains about the different aspect ratios. I love widescreen movies, but these work better in the square format without the top and bottom being masked off. It's your choice.
I just wished they would have given us different options for the audio. I am a firm believer that mono needs to be confined to the center channel speaker in a surround sound set up. The only option for English is 2 channel and it is spread wide across the front speakers where, to me, becomes annoying.
The special features seem to be retreads from different prior DVD releases (at least the Universal ones here in the states) but are still exciting to watch along with this exciting masterpiece.
This is the best, so far, this classic has looked because of the 1080p resolution (DVD will never compare to blu ray). Just wished it was darker and looked more film noirish.
All in all, get this "limited edition" on blu ray! And fall in love with this classic all over again.
Eureka did wonders with this masterpiece!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welles: the legacy lives on,
This review is from: Touch Of Evil [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Welles was light years ahead of his contemporaries. So much so, it's not hard to understand why the studio system shunned his vast, innovative talent, and more particularly his vast, insatiable ego. Every aspect of Touch of Evil, a flawed epic if ever there was one, shows the touch of genius within Welles - the breathtaking cinematography, the camera angles, the quirky approach to script and plotting, use of sound and music.
I doubt if there is one serious director today who does not owe a debt to the groundbreaking work by Welles. Even Hitchcock appear to have learned lessions (see any parallels between the studied stylisation in Touch of Evil and the master's approach to Psycho?
Listen, watch and learn how it all began!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie. Powerful acting and interesting characters,
By A Customer
This review is from: Touch Of Evil [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. At times the older movies can be dated or hokie. This film remains very powerful. Orson Welles is terrific and downright despicable. Heston does an excellent job and Leigh is gorgeous. I highly recommend this movie. Seedy, dark and,in its own way, funny.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Work of Art,
Touch of Evil is a perfect demonstration of how even a modest small scale genre such as film noir can become a work of art in the hands of a genius, especially when that same genius is leading actor, script writer and director. Orson Welles takes what might have been a run of the mill tale about a dodgy murder investigation conducted by a ruthless, bigoted cop and turns it into an illuminating study in human nature. I first saw this film around 1970 on BBC-2's much-missed Midnight Movie slot and even in its studio release form it stood out as a gem. Now that we can see the film Orson Welles actually intended it to be it's even better, although personally I do rather miss that deliciously sleazy Henry Mancini score blaring over the opening credits.
This film is full of unforgettable moments like the first glimpse we get of Police Captain Quinlan. With the camera looking up from the gutter, a car door opens and Welles' huge bloated form completely fills the screen. This a man who isn't going to let anything get in his way. Metaphors too, the border town location fits well with the fact that Hank Quinlan's police methods have routinely crossed the line for so many years he no longer knows, or cares where the boundary between right and wrong is any more. But he's not a corrupt cop in the classic bribe-taking sense, he honestly believes that he's a force against evil. In his head, his ruthless methods, including planting evidence if that's what it takes, are justified by the ends. And it's his self-righteous certainty that makes him so dangerous.
A lesser movie would have portrayed Quinlan gratuitously as simply a monster but Welles' understanding of humanity shows us that the ageing, overweight Hank Quinlan that we see here - a man corrupted in just about every sense of the word - wasn't always like this. No, he started out with all the same dreams any man might have but which somehow got lost along the way. There's a beautiful moment where he goes into the old fashioned brothel run by Marlene Dietrich. Despite the fact that he clearly spent a lot of time there many years ago, Marlene doesn't even recognise him until he speaks to her. "Honey you're a mess," She tells him. In that one instant we see just how far he's fallen.
But Orson Welles' doesn't play for sympathy and his unrelentingly tough performance never tries to soften this portrait of a ruthless man who must be stopped. Touch of Evil doesn't try to make you sympathise with its central character, but it does give you the chance to understand him. That's why it's a work of art.
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Touch of Evil (1958) (Masters of Cinema) [Blu-ray] by Orson Welles (Blu-ray - 2011)