Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Touch of Evil Essay Example for Free

Touch of Evil Essay Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958) attempted to lift the stylish low-budget crime drama form with quality directing, writing, acting, cinematography, soundtrack, and locations, while maintaining the authentic film-noir motif. One of the key elements of film-noir was steamy sexuality, and Touch of Evil exploited this genre feature enthusiastically with lurid and seductive characterizations and scenes of tawdry sexual tension. Touch of Evil takes place in a border town between the USA and Mexico, representing the thin line separating two different cultures and realities. The lead character finds himself in a dilemma when a murder takes just as he and his bride cross the border. He struggles to deal with local officials without ruining his honeymoon, but events conspire against him. The local Sheriff is dishonest, his wife is kidnapped by his enemies, and his murder investigation takes him into an underworld of human misery, corruption, and sleaze. In 1958, interracial relationships were socially unacceptable, perhaps even forbidden in certain sections of America. Hollywood generally avoided the subject until the controversial Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967, Stanley Kramer), almost a decade later. So when Touch of Evil’s opening scene presents a Hispanic man and a Caucasian women, a newly wed couple, it purposely introduces an element designed to produce audience anxiety. When Orson Welles’ character, Sheriff Quinlan, realizes that the characters portrayed by Charleton Heston as Miguel Vargas, a virile Mexican, and Janet Leigh as Suszie, a sexy American, are a honeymooning husband and wife, he snidely comments, â€Å"She dont look Mexican†¦.† Earlier, the Mexican border guards addressed the same issue with similar disdain. These scenes establish interraciality as a socially unaccepted custom in the film’s universe and focuses the audience’s attention and expectation of danger on the issue. The plot soon fulfills the expectation. Vargas, an honest and incorruptible police official, tries to help the local police solve a murder that he and Suzie witnessed as they crossed the border into Mexico in the open scene. In one scene of high sexual tension – and fantasy – Suzie, in seductive lingerie, in the privacy of her hotel room, has phone sex with her husband who has called her from a pay phone. A blind man, adding a titillating voyeurism to the scene overhears the conversation. Matters are complicated when Suzie is kidnapped by criminals with a grudge against Vargas, and Vargas’ dedication to his prosecurial duty and concern for his wife leave him with a dilemma of two separate crises both demanding him to take action. The stakes rise when Vargas becomes convinced that the local sheriff (Welles’ Quinlan) is corrupt and is framing an innocent man. Vargas tries several times to rescue Suzie, which fail and serve to incite the kidnappers to threaten Suzie with sexual degradation, and ultimately places her in even greater danger of being murdered. The result of these events on top of the smoldering relationship between the main characters is a story that produces a story environment of smoldering sexuality that produces scenes rife with sexual anxiety. Sources consulted: â€Å"Touch of Evil† http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052311 retreived Oct. 16, 2007 Ebert, Roger. Review of â€Å"Touch of Evil† September 13, 1998 http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19980913/REVIEWS08/401010367/1023

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