****/**** Image A+ Sound A Extras A
starring Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles, Joseph Calleia
screenplay by Orson Welles, based on the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson
directed by Orson Welles
by Alex Jackson Particularly in light of its 50th Anniversary DVD reissue, which gathers together all three extant versions of the film, I find myself grouping writer-director Orson Welles's Touch of Evil with multiple-incarnated masterworks like Blade Runner, Apocalypse Now, and, to a lesser extent, Dawn of the Dead and Brazil. Moreover, I don't quite see it as a 1950s noir thriller from Universal, or even really as an Orson Welles picture--rather, I look at Touch of Evil as a canonical part of every young (male?) cinephile's indoctrination. It occurs to me that you should be able to buy one-sheets for it at your local record store. So I was mildly surprised to hear Jonathan Rosenbaum admit in his audio commentary that he disliked the picture when he saw it as a teenager. He explains that he tied it too closely into the film noir genre and found it an unpleasant specimen. David Edelstein, in his theatrical review of the 1998 restoration, writes that he initially regarded it as one of the worst movies ever made. The picture neatly conformed to his preconceptions of what bad movies are like.