Touch of Evil

Year: 1958
Studio: Universal
Director: Orson Welles
Writer: Orson Welles
Cast: Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh
Orson Welles was the M Night Shyamalan of his day. His breakout film stunned the world, and each one after that - though high quality - impressed to a lesser degree every time.

This was Welles as I recognised him from the late 1970s, becoming the overweight, grizzled, booming-voiced authoritarian from Nashua copier ads and Transformers movies.

He wasn't above ridiculous casting either (no more than David Lean casting Alec Guinness as a Saudi prince), getting Charlton Heston - as American a guy as there ever was - to play a slick Mexican government official and the target of an assassination plot.

Welles is Quinlan, the Sam Spade-like detective on the case, once legendary and now burning swiftly out. As Vargas (Heston) soon learns, Quinlan will mete out justice by any means necessary - even if it means planting evidence to nail the man he believes responsible.

The Mexican border town is kind of colourless (not in the literal sense - it is a black and white film) and would be well served by a modern remake by the likes of Cuaron or Innaritu. An though Welles' by-then waning talent casts a long shadow over the whole film, it's a fairly run of the mill cop drama for completists only.

And yes, that's a pre Psyhco Janet Leigh as Vargas' American wife.

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