peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2018 10 27 TouchOfEvil

Touch of Evil

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David Scott Mathieson likened Mae Sot, Thailand to the Texas/Mexico border town of this black-and-white Orson Welles classic. Apparently second time around, and still highly rated at IMDB but not in the top-250. Inflation I guess.

This is Welles in whale mode, holding that cinema can tell sophisticated stories while blithely skating over modern sensibilities such as cultural stereotypes and appropriation. Briefly, an American cop (Welles) is called in to investigate the bombing murder of a local magnate and his stripper acquaintance. High-ranking Mexican law enforcer Charlton Heston (in blackface (?), a sorta plausible American accent, and looking a bit like Omar Sharif a half decade early) has an American wife in the form of Janet Leigh (too credulous, and that 50s underwear!) and just happens to be on the scene. Conflict ensues. Marlene Dietrich plays a smokey-eyed bar operator, Zsa Zsa Gabor owns a strip parlour, Dennis Weaver is a proto-Lynchian, seriously unhinged night manager, and Mercedes McCambridge's "I wanna watch" could have come from an Andy Warhol. The opening tracking shot must be famous. There is something of a commentary on the then-future war on drugs. A bit of a feast.