Touch of Evil

Introduced by David Thomson

For fifty years and thousands of films, good had fought evil. Now, here's a film (a homecoming and comeback for Orson Welles) that asks, what is the touch of evil? How can you be a good detective and a bad cop? What is law and order protecting if the world is founded on disorder? Throw in a few more, lesser questions: how are Mexico and the U.S. getting on? Will Janet Leigh and Charlton Heston ever get their honeymoon? And try this one-must a brilliant entertainment (like Fred Astaire) have a moral meaning and purpose? Is the cinema here to be fun or to be virtuous? And if it's the latter, what have we done to ourselves? As for Welles-was he as good as his opening shot or was he as weary as Hank Quinlan? “You're a mess, honey”-Tanya's verdict may speak about the film as well as the man. But who told Tanya what to say?

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