Touch of evil

Posted by: | March 4, 2009 | Comments Off on Touch of evil

This is the second time I see this film and I still don’t know what to think of it. I think I did not enjoy this movie very much because I have very high expectations for Orson Welles. This film is very well made, but it is slow in some parts. I like how Welles decided to eliminate all the stock characters from this film. The hero is a Mexican and the villain is American, something that is rarely seen in American movies. Now, the hero is really Charlton Heston, who was at the top of his game having just acted in The ten commandments and about to act in Ben-Hur. For me this is quite interesting, because it gives a double message. Welles is saying that a hero can be mexican and that the pre-conceived ideals we have of the people can sometimes be wrong. Now, the actor playing the hero is really an American (who, by the way, can’t talk in a Mexican accent). This suggests that either Welles was trying to say that Americans are always going to be better than Mexicans, and they are the people behind the heroes, or simply that the studio wanted Heston and Welles could not get a Mexican actor. I am trying to think how this movie would have been with a Mexican actor in the main role, and I think it would have given it a completely different take on the film. It would have been more interesting, but it probably would not have had the same level of respect and empowerment Heston had. I think it is because we are watching a movie star at the peak of his game that his authority increases. Either way, the reversal of roles was interesting because it is the first time the anti-hero is American and the hero is actually Mexican.
Now on more film history kind of way, the first time I ever heard about this film it was introduced to me as a film noir. When I read the trivia on IMDB, I read that Welles decided to play with the narrative structure like in the Bogart film The Big sleep. I did see a lot of film noir in this film (the powerful independent woman, represented by Susie, the shadows and the techniques used to emphasize the double sided personalities of the characters, the mystery, etc…) but in noir the hero or heroine is normally punished in one way or another. Here the hero is left alone, and the murdered is the anti-hero (Welles). I think that because the noir movement was dying (if not already dead) by 1958, that this can’t be considered a typical noir film. It just lacks the depressing conclusion that noir became so known for. In the end, this film is interesting to watch because of the reversal of roles and the long shots, but it might be a little too outdated.


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