Sunday, October 05, 2008

"Touch of Evil"

This is one of my favorite films.
Quirky, seedy, corrupt and more over the top than any noir movie ever made. And to top it all off-- it was a complete failure on its release! Isn't it amazing how Orson Welles had such an underappreciated career as a film maker? Not to mention the fact that he was also one of the greatest actors of his time. It's almost as if his gifts and talents never came into focus, was never seen for the wonder they were. Some artists are invisible in their time. Like Vincent van Gogh, for example.

See this wonderful film now in a few different versions on DVD.

And if you've never watched it before, I envy you, you lucky bastard.


Ed said...

There`s no school like the old school.
Love appretiation of the classics.

Cool as always Vin.

marcoshark said...

I think I am going to buy the newer version set. When I worked for Warners', this was an important project to "get it right" for a number of reasons. I remember watching the opening minutes of the then, newly restored version. Had to be the most intense use of a continuous shot. The thing is, the movie still holds up. Even more amazing is that he did this, his appearance on "I Love Lucy" and something called "The Fountain of Youth", around the same time!

Also, seek out, the Criterion Collections, Complete "Mr. Arkadin". Even at his lowest point, Welles' could deliver the goods.

PS, I would love to see some more of your rendering of Welles, if possible!

Vince M. said...

Thanks, Eddis. I think you're a classic guy.

Hey Sharky! I'm surprised to hear you mention WB's connection to this film. The version on VHS that I've been wearing out with multiple viewings, is a Universal release.

You're right about that opening sequence, one of the greatest continuous crane shots ever. It still amazes me with each gleam.

The main takeaway I get from Mr. Welles' career is how little he was valued and supported. To him it must have felt as though he were living in a permanent 'fever dream'. A nightmare with a recurring ending of unreachable reward. No wonder he turned to acting in wine commercials in the early '70s, I would have been hawking heroin at that stage.

I'll look into 'Mr. Arkadin', I've always been curious about that one. Welles DID in fact always deliver the goods, but that only works when your buying public is willing to recieve them.

I will try my hand at a few more Welles sketches. The one at the top of this post was drawn in the enveloping darkness of my backyard, from a clipping out of the LA Times in a few minutes. I just wanted to get something down after a day of multiple misses at the Mac and drawing board.

Thanks so much for keeping in touch, my good friend. I hope to connect with you someday when I'm in Florida. Hopefully soon.

But, you never answered my query from the last post: Do you ever/ have you ever heard anything of Singer? I'm curious.

marcoshark said...

Singer. After he folded, fell off the face of the earth. I'd love to say more, but this is a fun and public forum!

Oh, the Universal Pictures = WB connection for DVD. At that time, WB was DVD. All DVD authoring was done by my old group that I use to work for, before the rest of the studios got up to speed. Sorry, I should have made that a bit more clear

max said...

Ok, I'm convinced, I'll include in my amazon order.
I saw it enough years ago to make it like the first time.
A bit like those fishes with short memory actually since I even dissected it once on a storyboarding course that I attended a few years ago.

BRIAN said...

this is a great movie vince...i believe i saw it on dvd once a few years ago...i assume there have been other dvd transfers since i saw it....brian...

Vince M. said...

Wow, Max, that sounds like quite an ambitous course in storyboarding. I don't know if I'd have the guts to dissect a classic like this. But I'll bet you had a lot of fun doing so.

Yes, Brian. There is a Director's Cut, created following Mr. Welles' letter to Universal begging them to release HIS vision of HIS film.

Can you imagine Spielberg or Scorcese being told that their films needed re-editing and additional/alternative scenes shot? By someone else!

This film is a gem in every version, due largely to the scripting, acting and direction of Mr. Welles.

After we've exhausted this worthy film I'll turn my eye toward another great one: "The Stranger".

max said...

I saw the Stranger quite recently actually. Good fun, he's bad, bad.

Vince M. said...

I keep getting calls and emails from friends who ask me if "Touch of Evil' is really as good as I'm saying it is.

The answer is YES!!! Buy it/watch it... you won't be sorry.

Craig Mackay said...

Just saw Touch of Evil for the first time recently and really liked it. I thought the continuous opening shot was fantastic. The ending was a real twist for me, the guy who likes to think he can figure it all out before the end. Let's just say I was dead wrong. Glad to see you post about a great old flick. On another note I've been watching old Bogey flicks I'd missed, just to see if it was worth it. I watched "They drive by night" and it took me about 12 minutes in to realize that George Raft was the heavy and Bogey played his brother. I have to say it was really weird to watch, but it was interesting as well. Definitely recommend if you aren't too sleepy and if you're a big Bogey fan.

Vince M. said...

Hi Craig, I love the way that opening shot pulls everybody in. That was Mr. Welles' intention. But some of my favorite moments are the small ones, like Joseph Calleia showing his love and devotion to Orson's Quinlan character, Akim Tamiroff's over the top turn as the Grandi thug, Dennis Weaver as "The Night Man" at the motel and Janet Leigh's character going from tough to terrified. Not to mention Henry Mancini's amazingly eerie score.

And Bogart? I could watch his films all day. In the mid-'70s, when there were only about six or seven channels they played a Bogie movie nearly every night. Needless to say I didn't get much sleep, didn't need to back then.

Here are a few Bogart films to check out:
Dead End, The Petrified Forest, In a Lonely Place, The Harder They Fall, High Sierra, Key Largo, The Desperate Hours and Angels With Dirty Faces (w/ James Cagney).

Thanks for stopping by Mr. Mackay.

max said...

I saw it last night, great as ever. I think I'll watch it again over the weekend, fresher and with more critical eye.

Vince M. said...

Told ya so!