[Film Flashback] Touch of Evil (1958), Directed by Orson Welles

By: Billy Cross

You’ve most likely seen it. No, not the movie. The opening shot – a 3 minute and 20 second tracking shot that weaves through the streets of Mexico as a bomb ticks away inside the trunk of a car. It’s a masterclass of planning and orchestration. Not only that, but everything you need to know about the movie – as in tone, setting, and main characters – unfolds in this one shot. It’s famous for good reason. But unfortunately, the film exists on the fringe as a cult classic.

 

 

Now, I watched the 1998 cut of the film. The optimized version. See, back before the movie was released, the studio meddled with Welles’ cut of the film, re-cutting and re-shooting scenes, unbeknownst to Welles. (Story of his life.) Thankfully, in 1998, Walter Murch re cut the film with the aid of a memo released by Welles which, among other things, removed the credits that were superimposed over the iconic opening shot. Still, to this day, there does not exist a true director’s cut of Touch of Evil. So if you find yourself starting the film and notice credits during the opening scene, I implore you to rip out the device that’s playing it, hurl out of the window, go out, and find the 1998 version.

 

touch-of-evil

 

Touch of Evil is now streaming on Netflix or can be found in the local Gainesville library.

 

 

 

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