Mexican Narcotics officer Ramon Miguel 'Mike' Vargas has to interrupt his honeymoon on the Mexican-US border when an American building contractor is killed after someone places a bomb in his car. He's killed on the US side of the border but it's clear that the bomb was planted on the Mexican side. As a result, Vargas delays his return to Mexico City where he has been mounting a case against the Grandi family crime and narcotics syndicate. Police Captain Hank Quinlan is in charge on the US side and he soon has a suspect, a Mexican named Manolo Sanchez. Vargas is soon onto Quinlan and his Sergeant, Pete Menzies, when he catches them planting evidence to convict Sanchez. With his new American wife, Susie, safely tucked away in a hotel on the US side of the border - or so he thinks - he starts to review Quinlan's earlier cases. While concentrating on the corrupt policeman however, the Grandis have their own plans for Vargas and they start with his wife Susie. Written by
Oscar winner Mercedes McCambridge only appears in the film because she was having lunch with Orson Welles during filming and Welles convinced her to film a scene. He had her wear a leather jacket, cut her hair himself and had her character say the sinister line, "I wanna watch." See more »
At the end of the famous opening tracking shot, you can see the sky beginning to change to daylight but the rest of the shots in the sequence happen in the dead of night. See more »
Uh, you folks American citizens?
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In the 111-minute restored version, there are no credits at all until the end of the film. See more »
What a major disappointment! I taped this film off the AMC channel a long time ago (maybe 10 years ago), and only watched parts of it quickly later, with casual interest. (It was the restored version according to the announcer). Over the weekend I watched it again, hoping that my faith in Orson Wells's talent would be renewed, and instead I was shocked to see how bad it really looked today. Totally overdone, over-stylized, over-dramatized, over-acted with a convoluted plot that was unconvincing. In addition, the casting of Charlton Heston as a Mexican was totally ludicrous (and almost at the level of slapstick). It was just bad all the way...unbelievably bad! Even Orson Welles's performance was excessive, cynical, downbeat, and unreal. I had to struggle to watch the entire two hours, as painful as it was.
I went back to the book I have "The Films of Orson Wells" by James Howard, and renewed my knowledge of the production. The studio considered the final cut "unmarketable and fragmented", and took it out of Orson Welles's hands completely. Even though Orson offered to re-shoot certain scenes to their specifications, he was barred permanently from the lot.("Shades" of the final results of "The Magnificent Ambersons" at the RKO studios!).
A new director, Harry Keller, was brought in to re-shoot some of the scenes, and some cuts were made as well. Most people have probably only seen this version, rather than Welles's original version. (Which may explain why it has a better reputation than it deserves.)
A lot of us sentimental fans of "Citizen Kane" keep hoping (against hope apparently), that age will redeem some of Orson Wells's other films, so that he will not be forever considered as having had "beginner's luck" with his first film (with an assist from a very good screenplay writer, Herman J. Mankiewicz -brilliant!, and interesting subject matters concerning William Randolph Hearst). Alas...it doesn't appear to ever be possible. I'll take a second look at some of his other films, but "Touch of Evil" looks just terrible today...terrible! What a shock!
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