by Rob Boylan
Butchered upon its release by a studio who didn't care much, Orson Welles' Touch of Evil was lovingly restored in 1998 by film editor Walter Murch from a copious ream of original notes -- a 58 page memo made by Welles for Universal made after screening their edits with reshoots he wasn't involved with. Most of the memo was ignored until its restoration 40 years later.
It's a powerful film that casts an unrecognizable Welles against a thorougly un-Mexican Charlton Heston, but to dwell on that is silly. Noir gets away with a lot, and it should. It's a genre about robberies, so it's allowable to let the film pull a fast one on you too. Henry Mancini's brilliant, beautiful score -- including one of the single best pieces of music put to film, Tana's Theme -- helps things along, but it's the dynamite ending that makes it all worth while.
Mexican Narcotics officer Ramon Miguel ‘Mike’ Vargas has to interrupt his honeymoon on the Mexican-US border when an American building contractor is killed after someone places a bomb in his car. He’s killed on the US side of the border but it’s clear that the bomb was planted on the Mexican side. As a result, Vargas delays his return to Mexico City where he has been mounting a case against the Grandi family crime and narcotics syndicate. Police Captain Hank Quinlan is in charge on the US side and he soon has a suspect, a Mexican named Manolo Sanchez. Vargas is soon onto Quinlan and his Sergeant, Pete Menzies, when he catches them planting evidence to convict Sanchez. With his new American wife, Susie, safely tucked away in a hotel on the US side of the border - or so he thinks - he starts to review Quinlan’s earlier cases. While concentrating on the corrupt policeman however, the Grandis have their own plans for Vargas and they start with his wife Susie.
USA, 1958, 95 min, In English, Rated PG-13, Directed by Orson Welles