Retouching Evil

Using Detailed instructions left by Orson Welles, top film editor Walter Murch has remade "The Best b-Movie ever" -- Welles' Touch of Evil

And now, whenever Schmidlin thinks of Muir Woods, he thinks of Joseph Calleia's head.

By the time Dietrich delivers her eulogy to Quinlan at the end of Touch of Evil--"He was some kind of a man....What does it matter what you say about people?"--the directors at Skywalker were left thrilled and dazed by Welles' film.

With its deranged motelkeeper (Dennis Weaver) and its sexy portraits of an endangered Janet Leigh, as well as its seedy ambience and horrific murder, Touch of Evil had everyone thinking that Hitchcock had raided it for Psycho. Philip Kaufman and Carroll Ballard were swapping reactions about Welles' combination of filmmaking bravado and emotion--his use of wide-angle lenses in close-ups and tracking shots, of a handheld camera in a homicide--and, overall, his knack for creating compositions that wring maximum tension per minute.

And Aggie Murch felt the group energy. "I think now is a special time and place in film history, with this Bay Area group," she says. "There's a genuine love among the filmmakers up here. They were young and adventurous together, they've gone through fights and struggle, and everyone's got enough battle scars to appreciate the other. Now they're just artists trying to make their art."

The re-edited Touch of Evil is now playing at the Inwood Theatre.

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