Posted July 6, 2015 by editor in Film Reviews

Touch Of Evil Review


Seems five years can’t pass without a return to the big screen of one of cinema’s greatest masters. The BFI then are having a look at the ever popular Orson Welles.  His Citizen Kane may have recently been de-throned from the AFI’s list of best films ever by Vertigo, but this is no threat to the reputation Welles has to this day as a master of cinema.

Touch of Evil then from the late 1950s is screening as part of the season with another release.

There isn’t anything special about this release that we haven’t already seen – and this version is the recut version from the infamous 58 page memo Welles wrote to the studio after they tinker with his film.

There are a few scenes that look either blown up or degraded compared to the rest of the film – which screams that the film is one day going to be in need of a further re-master to give us some optimal picture quality. But the worst offender is the sound with some truly misjudged dubs.

That’s about where the negative criticism ends as this film is still pretty much a classic.  Ok so Charlton Heston playing a dark skinned Mexican is a bit of a stretch – but if Joel Edgerton and Christian Bale can play leads in Exodus then there isn’t really any reason to get upset about this being an interpretation either.

And besides most of the time you are not playing attention to Heston’s by the book straight laced Mexican official, instead your eyes are glued to the more prominent and dominant force on the screen which is Orson Welles himself.

Welles literally steals his own film, turning a political narrative away from the issue at hand to instead turn out to be a story about corruption from within (That being the system and the soul).

Touch of Evil isn’t ageing as well as the likes of Kane or even that non Welles’ directed film the Third Man which he also stole from the rest of the cast around him. But structurally it’s still fascinating and the performance from Welles is strong. A bit of a clean and a tidy might make it last a bit longer.

Steven Hurst

Touch Of Evil is out 10 July 2015 and showing at the BFI