touch of evil

November 22, 2008

“it’s either the candy or the hooch”

let’s start off with what i liked.  the opening shot.  really great how it moves in and out, starting with the car then picking up heston and his girl.  the shot really plays with suspense when we know a bomb is in a car, then the car pulls up out of frame and we think “oh it’ll blow up now”, but the camera catches up with it.  then the car falls behind and we think “oh it’ll blow up now“, but the car catches up.  those were some really nice touches that i think raised the suspense immediately for the film (which is always a good thing).

welles was pretty funny as the gruff/corrupt/quite overweight detective (and i’m hoping some of those lines were ad-libbed because they felt just so off-the-cuff).  his performance was engaging enough (though it troubles me to think that he wasn’t stretching to far to play the latter half when he’s drunk the entire time) that any scene with him is interesting.

i’ve read a lot of praising for this film, and it mostly has to do with welles’ direction and the cinematography.  and while i think welles does a decent job (certainly not close to citizen kane) and i think any scene that is shot outside looks fantastic, anytime characters are inside the walls are littered with shadows.  maybe i’ve focused on this too much because whilst in film school, i’m always at odds trying to get rid of shadows, but they are everywhere in this movie.  and a lot of times there’s multiple shadows for one subject.  i completely felt the forced staging because of this and could just picture the lights up on stands 10 ft. from where the actors were standing.  also…..charleton heston was supposed to be mexican?  i realized about halfway through that’s why he was so tan and had that thin little moustache.  and the entire narrative of the girl from psycho being sort of kidnapped and drugged did not work too well.  mostly because of the way the people acted when they were high.  silly 1950s.

it’s an odd movie, and hard for me to figure where it places in the ranks of the 50s and in welles’ own career.  but interesting enough that if you are a film person, then it’s worth checking out.

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