There's ammunition available for any number of ideological blunderbusses here, including Quindlen's theory of justice by strongman intuition -- his, it is independently verified, was always right, remember. Is evil treatable homeopathically? I'll leave that alone for now and just say that, my God, here is a film that lurks there, hulking, looming, brooding right over you. And there it stands now, not going anywhere.
Say what you will about Heston's politics, or the strange decision to do brownface, but if it wasn't for him, Welles would not have been on this picture. You have to love him for that. I mean deep love. Like I want to kiss his face. Not now, obviously, because he's dead, but back then. Not with the makeup, of course. Fast and with passion. Like Pacino, only you don't want him dead. Even though he is.
"Nowadays the eye is tamed, I think, by the new wide screens. The old camera permits use of a range of visual conventions as removed from 'realism' as grand opera. This is a language not a bag of tricks. If it is now a dead language, as a candid partisan of the old eloquence, I must face the likelihood that I shall not again be able to put it to the service of any theme of my own choosing."
- Orson Welles.
this is a true masterpiece. the crime thriller plot is excellent and so complexly layered. the direction is so fluid and stylistic as Welles knows to do so well. the performances are excellent, especially heston and welles. the opening crane shot, the final ending and the drunken welles are all key moments in a significant text. this is noir at its very, very best. typically dark, cynical, jaded and corrupt.