Touch of Evil

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Touch of Evil is a 1958 American crime thriller film, written, directed by, and co-starring Orson Welles. The screenplay was loosely based on the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson. The cast includes Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Joseph Calleia, Akim Tamiroff, and Marlene Dietrich. Touch of Evil is one of the last examples of film noir in the genre's classic era (from the early 1940s until the late 1950s).[1]



The movie opens with a three-minute, twenty-second continuous tracking shot widely considered by critics[2] to be one of the greatest long takes in cinematic history. Beginning on the Mexico/US border, the shot shows a man placing a bomb in a car and then the journey of the car into the United States. The shot ends with newlyweds Miguel ("Mike") (Charlton Heston) and Susie Vargas (Janet Leigh) kissing. The scene then cuts to the car, containing a man and a woman, exploding.

Miguel Vargas, a drug enforcement official within the Mexican government, realizes the implications of a Mexican bomb exploding on American soil and begins to investigate. Police Chief Pete Gould (Harry Shannon) and District Attorney Adair (Ray Collins) arrive shortly on the scene, as well as police Captain Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) and Quinlan's friend and partner, Pete Menzies (Joseph Calleia).

While Quinlan and Menzies interrogate their prime suspect--a young Mexican named Sanchez who was secretly married to the daughter of the victim--Vargas visits the restroom and accidentally knocks an empty shoebox into the bathtub, then places the box back in its place. Moments later, Menzies announces that two sticks of dynamite were found in the shoebox in the bathroom. Vargas, aghast at the duplicity of the two men, determines that Quinlan may have been habitually planting evidence to help win convictions for years. When Vargas tries to confront Quinlan about this, Quinlan dismisses Vargas as being biased in favor of his fellow Mexicans.

Vargas then studies the public records on Quinlan's previous cases, and confronts the Americans with his findings. A furious Quinlan tosses his badge to the floor and threatens to resign.

While Vargas is investigating Quinlan's corrupt tactics, Susie Vargas is dismayed to find that the out-of-the-way motel Menzies recommended to her is solely inhabited by the mentally challenged night manager (Dennis Weaver), and gets taken over by a group of gang members. The gang members are members of the Grandi family, who Vargas is fighting as a drug enforcement official. Vargas becomes concerned when his attempts to reach her at the motel are sabotaged. Under orders from Quinlan and his criminal associate Grande, (Akim Tamiroff) the motel’s owner and brother of a man Vargas arrested, Susie is kidnapped by the gang, injected with drugs, and taken to Grande’s other motel in town. There, Quinlan strangles Grandi and frames Susie Vargas for the murder in order to ruin her husband.

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