Touch of Evil

Monday, March 3
Share this
1hr 52mins // directed by:Orson Welles // featuring:Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh // 35mm

A time bomb ticks away in the trunk of a car headed for the U.S./Mexico border.

At the same time Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston), a Mexican drug enforcement official, and his new bride Susan (Janet Leigh) are headed to the States for a chocolate soda. When they are almost injured in the ensuing explosion, Mike gets drawn into the potential corruption of U.S. police captain Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) and soon both his and Susan's life are in jeopardy. Featuring cameos by Zsa Zsa Gabor and Marline Dietrich.

Perhaps more so than any other Orson Welles film, the back-room dealings of Touch of Evil are as notorious as its opening 3 minute, 20 second single-take shot. Rumor has it that Welles took reign of the film on a bet with the studio chief after already having signed on as an actor, but he ultimately lost control of final cut. Universal International Pictures re-shot some scenes and re-cut the film to fit as the second half of a double bill headed up by the Hedy Lamarr-starrer The Female Animal. Upon seeing the new cut of the film, Welles famously wrote a 58-page memo to Universal's head of production detailing what he thought should be changed to get it (back) to his vision. None of the re-edits were changed.

Forty years later, editor and sound designer Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now), was able to re-cut Touch of Evil based on Welles' memo to finally have the director's vision see the light of day. The Coolidge is proud to show this version as part of our Big Screen Classics series.