Touch of Evil

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: +2

Back in 1958 Orson Welles wrote the screenplay, directed and starred in TOUCH OF EVIL. Unhappy with the final product, Mr. Welles wrote a 58-page memorandum requesting changes. Now, 40 years later, those changes have been incorporated. Its set in a grimy, seedy town on the Mexican-U.S. border. While narcotics agent Mike Vargas (Charles Heston) and his new wife, Susan (Janet Leigh), are on their honeymoon, they witness a murder. A bomb planted in the trunk of a car explodes, killing the couple inside. Mike gets involved in the investigation, but soon discovers he must contend with an evil police chief, Captain Quinlan (Orson Welles). Further complicating the investigation are the Grandi boys whose father seems to own the town. They begin stalking Susan while Mike tries to solve the crime. They terrorize her in a desolate tourist cabin, drug her and dump her in a sleazy hotel room in town. Fans of Welles will appreciate this drama filmed in black and white, and old timers will enjoy seeing Marlene Dietrich, Dennis Weaver and Zsa Zsa Gabor in minor roles. Others may find TOUCH OF EVIL too sinister to be entertaining.

This movie is a classic example of how evil used to be portrayed without pools of blood, sensuality conveyed without intercourse, and emotions expressed without foul language. The face of a man strangled and blood on Quinlans hands are flashed on screen, but gunshot killings are not graphic. Susans abduction shows the Grandi brothers entering her motel room and grabbing her. It is not clear whether they sexually assault her, because the next scene shows her unconscious in a hotel with a dead body. Mike and Susan share a few embraces and kisses, but their few moments alone are quickly interrupted. Susan appears a few times in tight sweaters and lingerie, but could hardly be described as revealing. Even in the border towns bordellos and bars, there are no bare breasts, just a few tight fitting, low-cut costumes. It is implied that Quinlan is well known in these places, however. Although he has replaced whiskey with candy bars, the rotund police captain is tricked into drinking again. His drunkenness proves to be his downfall. Foul language includes two exclamatory profanities and one moderate crudity. Still, TOUCH OF EVIL is definitely not a movie for youngsters.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
October Films, 65 Bleecker St., NY, NY 10112

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Once - Moderate

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: Few (2) times - Exclamatory (my God)

Violence: Several times - Moderate (car explodes, man strangled, gunshot killings, woman terrorized and abducted by gang, rough treatment; suspect slapped, pushed and hit)

Sex: None

Nudity: None; Near Nudity - Few times (woman in lingerie, low-cut costumes in bars)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (married couple kiss and embrace)

Drugs: Several times (cigarette smoking and drinking hard liquor in bars, drunkenness; woman drugged)

Other: None

Running Time: 113 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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