Touch of Evil (1958)

Even before Rick Schmidlin’s 1998 restoration of this classic film noir debuted, director Orson Welles admitted that it was the least tampered with of all his films since Citizen Kane (1941). Welles only got to direct this tale of bordertown corruption by accident. Charlton Heston signed on for the lead thinking co-star Welles was also directing, then insisted Welles take over the film. Welles shot mostly at night, which kept studio executives out of his hair while also giving the film a distinctive, suspenseful look. He also cast friends like Marlene Dietrich and Joseph Cotten without clearing it with the studio. Unhappy with his editing ideas, however, Universal-International fired him during post-production, added new scenes and placed the opening credits over the famous tracking shot at the movie’s start. Yet it was still unmistakably a Welles picture, with his trademark intricate visuals and unsettling sound cues. Decades later, Schmidlin re-cut the film based on Welles’s original editing notes to create what is now considered the director’s cut, making one of Hollywood’s greatest films even greater.

World premiere restoration reconstructed from the original camera negative and presented in collaboration with Universal Studios.

Dir. Orson Welles

In attendance: Fraser Heston