[Re-edited to comply with writer/director Orson Welles' 58-page memo detailing his desired changes to the studio cut, the classic noir thriller "Touch of Evil" will be rereleased on Sept. 11 by October Films. Here's BOXOFFICE's review of the original, released 40 years ago.]
This tale of the narcotics underworld along the U.S.-Mexican border packs a terrific punch that will have audiences on the edge of their seats. A series of scenes of violent intrigue, murders and seamy characters build up to a climax that cannot be anticipated and yet it is inescapable. There are stars galore in the cast, including Charlton Heston as a special investigator and Janet Leigh as his American wife, but it is Orson Welles as the murderous American cop who steals the show with his superb acting. His portrayal of a thoroughly despicable character will remain in the minds of action fans long after the show has ended. Guest stars are Marlene Dietrich and Zsa Zsa Gabor, and among other well-known players who have unannounced bit parts is Joseph Cotten. The violence of the action and the appearance of women of the underworld may not commend the film to most women, though they will sympathize with the predicament of the American wife, but men and teenagers will be enthralled. Albert Zugsmith produced and Welles directed from his own screenplay based on the novel by Whit Masterson.
Play up the stars, especially Welles, as appearing in one of the most thrilling dramas ever filmed. List the stars one after the other by name in a series of radio spots. Give passes to the local police or screen especially for them.
Terrific Tale of Murder and Vengeance Starring Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh and Orson Welles, With Marlene Dietrich and Zsa Zsa Gabor as Guest Stars...Orson Welles as the Most Evil of Men. FLASHBACK: March 24, 1958
What BOXOFFICE Said About...
TOUCH OF EVIL