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Touch of Evil
Orson Welles USA, 1958
Hank Quinlan is such a fabulous character, one of the greatest in cinema. . . . Look at the way his face lights up when he suddenly hears the pianola from the bordello run by Marlene Dietrich’s character. It is almost like a Rosebud moment. The memory of one good thing he had but lost, in this case his relationship, such as it were, with her. Only in this case even the memory of the thing he lost is unwholesome.
October 19, 2018
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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.
July 22, 2015
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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.
July 10, 2015
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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.
October 04, 2013
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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.
March 16, 2012
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