Touch of Evil Screen 4 articles

Touch of Evil


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  • Touch of Evil contains a single-take tracking shot of such elegance and skill that it may one day come to be seen as the ultimate expression of Orson Welles’s filmmaking prowess. See if you can spot it—it appears 34 minutes into the film.... In Quinlan, the local folk hero, a policeman with an enviable conviction rate, Welles created one of the great noir heavies: a pachydermic, alcoholic, tyrannical racist brute who resorts to blackmail and murder to prop up his track record.

  • TOUCH OF EVIL is a film of cold fury, one that gives us a vision of existence as a permanent state of emergency, in which all that was previously thought solid has not just melted but burst into flames... Marlene Dietrich's famous line of elegy, 'What does it matter what you say about people?' is the loveliest and bleakest affirmation of the indefatigability of injustice ever put on celluloid.

  • The giddy constellation of eccentric side players and slum-like locations coalesce to form a story that often comes across as contrived. But it’s only by its tremendous, surreal climax that you realise that this is pure character study and not some wantonly outlandish noir- thriller in which everything ties up in a neat bow.

  • Over time Touch of Evil has become for many of us an anthology of its greatest moments: the long, unbroken first take memorably discussed in The Player and imitated all over the place; Marlene Dietrich’s presence as the sour, weary owner of a nightclub and ultimately the conscience of the film; Dennis Weaver’s incarnation of the crazy night man at the desert motel, a prefiguration of Anthony Perkins in Psycho and every other damaged person who ever had to look after a register and hand out keys.

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