Day 255: Touch Of Evil (1958)

touch-of-evilIt has been 22 days since the last time we did a Sunday at the classics film and there is only 15 Sundays left in the whole month (Not including today). There is one man whose name is synonymous with classic Hollywood cinema and that is director Orson Welles (Citizen Kane) and he returns to star and direct the film noir classic Touch Of Evil. A wealthy man is killed in an explosion in a border town between Mexico and the US. It sets off an investigation that brings in one Mexican Narcotics investigator named Vargas (Charlton Heston) and a veteran cop named Quinlan (Welles) whose willing to do whatever it takes to take down anyone. The two will soon embark on a battle between each other as Vargas is trying to nail Quinlan for being a dirty cop while Quinlan is trying to ruin Vargas reputation. The film also stars Janet Leigh (Psycho) as Susan Vargas, Joseph Calleia (The Treasure Of Pancho Villa) as Police SGT. Menzies, Akim Tamiroff (For Whom The Bell Tolls) as Uncle Joe, Marlene Dietrich (Judgement At Nuremberg) as Tana, Zsa Zsa Gabor (Moulin Rouge) as Strip Club Owner, Ray Collins (Perry Mason) as DA Adair, Valentin de Vargas (To Live In And Die In LA) as Pancho, and Joi Lansing (The Brave One) as Zita. 

touchThis was definitely an amazing movie to watch and I had a lot of fun checking this one out. I had one minor issue with the film, but it’s one of those I get why they did it kind of thing. My only issue with the film is that I had a hard time believing Charlton Heston as a Mexican because not even black and white makes me believe it. He looks like an American with a mustache and a tan. I get why they did it because Hollywood at the time would have never placed a real Mexican as the star of the film. You have to remember that at this time, white men were still playing Native Americans in films. What I did love about this film is the last half and hour of it. The last half hour was one of the most intense half hours of the whole movie with all the scandalous behavior. I didn’t know how I felt about Orson Welles before the film, but he was absolutely amazing in this film as the crooked Quinlan. There are always going to be flaws in every film, but this is definitely one of my favorites so far this month. The writing is great, the cinematography was great, and the acting was great too. A young and beautiful pre-Psycho Janet Leigh is in the film and she looks great. The film takes a bit to unfold, but when it does it’s absolutely amazing. If you want to know about the history of cinema then you need to check out these films because they laid the ground work for today. That is why I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 234: Dial M For Murder (1954)

dial M for murderWith only 132 days left in the year and only 18 Sundays left in the calendar year, we are going to try something new here. I am calling it Sunday At The Classics where we review classic cinema and we are starting this week with Alfred Hitchcock’s (Psycho) Dial M For Murder which was released in 1954. Ray Milland (The Lost Weekend) plays Tony Wendice, a former tennis pro who discovers that his wife is having an affair with a writer from New York City. What does he do, well he tries to plan the perfect murder by blackmailing an old college friend, but when that backfires he has to come up with one heck of a plan b just to get the job done. The film also stars Grace Kelly (To Catch A Thief) as Margot Wendice, Robert Cummings (Walt Disney’s Wonderful World Of Color) as Mark Halliday, John Williams (Witness For The Prosecution) as Chief Inspector Hubbard, Anthony Dawson (Death Rides A Horse) as Charles Swan, Robin Hughes (The Flame And The Arrow) as Police Sergeant O’Brien, Leo Britt (The Charge Of The Light) as the storyteller, Patrick Allen (The Black Adder) as Detective Pearson, and George Leigh (Champagne For Caesar) as Detective Williams.

dial mThere is one scene that I had always heard about that was revered by many in this film which is why I decided to watch this. It’s the during the beginning of the film when Tony invites Charles Swan to come over to talk about the “car” for sale. He begins to piece Swan’s true identity to Swan as they are talking and then he reveals to him his secret plan. It is then that he let’s us in on how he wants Swan to commit the perfect crime in detail. The conversation goes on for about 15 to 20 minutes and is just masterful as it seems to be one continuous shot. Alfred was a master with his cinematography and how he wanted to see his film unfold. It’s exactly like François Truffaut once said about Hitchcock calling him a true auteur of cinema.  Just like any great Film Noir or crime mystery film, there is always the reveal about how they came to discover the master plan. That is another great sequence that you have to check out from the master of suspense. One of the things I enjoyed about this film was seeing the beautiful Grace Kelly who really was the face of perfection in classic Hollywood. There was just no other like her in those times and she was awesome to watch in this film even though she really wasn’t the star of the film. Ray Milland of course was the star and he absolutely shined as the an who thought he could think on his feet and that he had everyone hook, line, and sinker. If you want to be a fan of cinema then I definitely suggest that you stick this on your list of films to watch. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.