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TOUCH OF EVIL

USA, 1958 (MIFF 1978)

Director: Orson Welles

This print, presented by courtesy of CIC, is the full version of Touch of Evil, which was cut by 15 minutes when released in 1958. Special narcotics investigator for the Mexican Ministry of Justice, Mike Vargas, is honeymooning in the frontier town of Los Robles when a time bomb, planted on the Mexican side, explodes in the car of the town's boss, Linnekar, when he has crossed into American territory.

Mountainous Hank Quinlan, detective captain in charge of the case, reluctantly obeys orders to co-operate with Vargas, whose wife, Susan, accompanies him on his investigations, and puts up at a lonely motel. Meanwhile, an underworld boss, Joe Grandi (who happens to own the motel) is looking for ways to blacken Vargas' reputation. He finds an unexpected ally in Quinlan whom Vargas has caught planting evidence, in the shape of two sticks of dynamite, on Sanchez, Linnekar's son-in-law.

Vargas now discovers that Quinlan's astonishing record of captured criminals has been achieved by backing his hunches with faked proof. Now Quinlan connives at the kidnapping of Susan, who is drugged and left in a room with evidence of a narcotics orgy. He then strangles Grandi and calls in the vice squad; Susan is arrested on a charge of murder. Hot on Quinlan's trail, Vargas manages to convince Quinlan's assistant that his boss is corrupt.

The assistant records a conversation in which Quinlan, drunk, confesses everything, but is discovered and shot by the detective. As he dies the sergeant shoots Quinlan. Meanwhile news comes through that Sanchez has confessed. Quinlan's hunch was right; he was a great detective — but a bad policeman.

See also...

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