93 minutes: release version; 108 minutes: preview version; 110 minutes: re-edited version
|Principal Cast and Crew|
|Charlton Heston: Miguel "Mike" Vargas|
|Orson Welles: Capt. Hank Quinlan|
|Janet Leigh: Susie Vargas|
|Akim Tamiroff: Joe Grandi|
|Joseph Calleia: Pete Menzies|
|Marlene Dietrich: Tanya|
|Director/Script: Orson Welles|
|Cinematographer: Russell Metty|
|Editor: Virgil Vogel, Aaron Stell & Edward Curtiss|
|Music: Henry Mancini|
|Producer: Albert Zugsmith|
|Full Cast and Crew|
Touch of Evil represented Orson Welles' last hurrah as a Hollywood filmmaker, and he certainly went out with style, giving Universal a dark, nasty study in police corruption and murder. Welles got the directing nod thanks to Charlton Heston, who, when told that Welles was to play the heavy, suggested him as director as well. After some initial trepidation, the studio agreed and Welles got the job. Things went well until Welles delivered the film, and Universal executives didn't like what they saw. Despite Welles' 58-page memo detailing what he felt should be done to the film in his absence (he had left to resume work on Don Quixote), new scenes were shot over Heston and Janet Leigh's objections, and footage was cut from Welles' inital version.
The film was hugely influential in Europe if not a commercial success in the US, and it remains influential to filmmakers of all kinds today. The discovery of the preview cut in 1975 allowed audiences to get a better idea of Welles' intentions, but even the 1998 re-edit can't be considered a director's cut, even if it does follow Welles' memo (see link below for text). It is likely the closest we will get to such a thing, but can only be considered a possibility for what Welles might have intended. It is certainly the best version of the film of the three in existence.