#175: Touch of Evil (1958)

When and how did I watch this?

December 6th, 2015, on Amazon Video.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

I looked it up to find out if it would be a horror film.  The name Orson Welles seemed familiar, but I hadn’t seen any of his work.

What do I know about it now?

Dark film noir mystery-type.  It felt a lot like a Hitchcock film at times, but at times felt underdeveloped.  I empathized with Quinlan at the end, but Heston’s Vargas (a whitewashed role, somewhat unconvincingly) and Leigh were both weak and forgettable.  The opening continuous shot was something we noticed immediately — a stroke of cinematic mastery — and the final moments had a firm grip on me.  Overall, however, I felt the movie could have moved along a little bit better, especially for being on this list.  Nonetheless, I can see its value.

What are some themes in the film?

Prejudice, pride, corruption, nationalism

Did this affect me personally?


Why is this ranked #175?

Orson Welles (who I later discovered is the mastermind behind Citizen Kane) is a beast. I think the Dietrich “cameo” sorta drives this film up in the rankings as well.  Some might mistaken it for Hitchcock, so those factors might have something to do with it. The cinematography is brilliant.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She did, and she liked it more than I did, finding several of the scenes more memorable. She advocated that it was unprecedented and has been copied numerous times, which explains why I found it “boring”.

Would I watch it again?


Would I recommend it to a friend?

Go for it.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Yeah.  I’m not blown away, but taking my wife’s rhetoric, I think it’s a cinematic standard and a defining film noir.

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