One of the best film noirs that I have ever seen. Orson Welles set the standard in how a corrupt overweight donut-eating cop should look. A lot of memorable nail-biting scenes - like the ending and the assault on Janet Leigh. Charlton Heston is surprisingly convincing as a Mexican too. The studios tampered with this film at it's premiere but Orson got the last laugh as the film is like he intended now.
As a film noir it crafts an ambiguous figure; a towering man performing 'bad actions' with good intentions; a model for Welles' existentialist approach to character work. While I have some strong reservations about his approach on the whole, his ideas are framed well, with actions receiving correlating consequences. And yes, that baroque aesthetic is absolutely to die for. Just about every frame is stunning.
I just watched the theatrical cut, and I'm kicking myself that I'd waited so long. This film was outstanding, exceeding every expectation and it kept me engaged with its creative camera work. Interestingly, sixty years later, the US-Mexico border still seems just as complicated. This film is the bedrock of every cinematic border tale ever since.
Welles as a lurching but fascinating monster who kills or disappoints the only people who love him combined with the like weird disconnect between the surface level very 50s antiracism and equally very 50s racist make-up and the racialized implied sexual aspects of the scene in the motel make it fascinating and interesting if not necessarily lovable.
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.