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