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Blu-ray Shopping Bag: Touch of Evil - Limited Edition

Back to Civilization

By Robert T. Trate     April 15, 2014
Source: Mania.com


Back to Civilization circa 1958
© Universal Studios
It is that time of year when Charlton Heston dominates Turner Classic Movies. Yes, the man who was the Omega Man and the last talking human on the Planet of the Apes is probably better known for his biblical pictures The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur (see column). I always get nostalgic for Charlton Heston movies come Easter and this year, Universal Studios supplied me with the Touch of Evil - Limited Edition Blu-ray. It’s Easter, so this time I decided to watch him play a Mexican. 

The first time I watched Orson Well’s Touch of Evil (1958) was during film class. It left me high and dry. I didn’t care for the film and completely chalked it up to it being a period piece. The great thing about movies is that they never change, you do. So you can go back an rediscover a film your younger self might not have cared for. Universal Studios has re-released Touch of Evil since the last time I saw it. In 1998, they recut the film based on Orson Wells’ 58 pages of notes he wrote to the studio after they re-cut his film. My memory about it is sketchy at best. I know the studio wanted Charlton Heston to play the Mexican lawyer, Mike Vargas, and that the babe who dies in the shower from Psycho, Janet Leigh, plays his wife. The end all to be all was that Orson Wells pulled triple duty on the picture as the screenwriter, director and star in the film. If anyone was a force in Hollywood, it was certainly Orson Wells. So let’s go back to 1958 (1998’s re-release) and Touch of Evil

Charlton Heston plays a Mexican lawyer named Mike Vargas, who is about to break open a huge drug case in Mexico City. He and his wife, Susie (Janet Leigh), are on their honeymoon near the US/ Mexican border. They witness a car explode and Mike decides to get involved. The prominent businessman’s death will be bad for Mexico and Mike knows he can help. However, while aiding local authorities, Susie is quickly accosted by the Grande Family. As it turns out, Mike is actually prosecuting one member of their family. No threats or violent acts ever take place, but Mike and Susie both know that they are in danger. Enter Orson Wells’ Captain Hank Quinlan. He is a local celebrity police officer who always gets his man, a long time veteran of the force who has very little to show for it. When the prominent businessman’s daughter arrives to identify her father’s body, Quinlan puts a tale on her. She then leads him to his first suspect. That is the catalyst for the events in Touch of Evil. Quickly, Mike sees that Quinlan plays by his own rules. Guilty or not, no one is safe from his judgement.

When I watched the film in college, it was before the re-release. Oddly enough, I doubt my professors would have gotten the latest edition any way. It is safe to say that I probably saw the 1976 version or the “preview version” that the studio created prior to the release of the film back in 1958. A version that was discovered in the vaults at Universal in 1976. I also wasn’t a huge fan of Orson Wells. It might sound strange, but to no fault of his own, everyone says his Citizen Kane is the greatest film of all time. I would argue it is Casablanca, so to see him here in Touch of Evil, as a fat, pompous, snake in the grass, softens me up a bit because here I am, allowed to hate him. 

Watching the film now in 2014 has allowed me to see how ahead of the times Wells really was. This is an incredibly dark film where the lines between right and wrong become blurred. That wasn’t the kind of film Hollywood was making back in 1958. So imagine my surprise when an obviously dated film still carried its weight and is poignant today. The catalyst for pitting Mike Vargas against Captain Hank Quinlan returns in the last reel, but, by that point, you are already touched by evil. It is Easter and I will break out my Blu-ray of Benn Hur and my Ten Commandments Special Edition DVD. However, next year, I’ll watch old Chuck Heston play a Mexican again, too. 

Top 5 Picks of the Week:
1. The Nut Job (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet)
2. Phantom of the Opera (1989) [PAL] (Region Free) [Blu-ray]
3. Double Indemnity - 70th Anniversary Limited Edition (Blu-ray + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet)
4. Touch of Evil - Limited Edition (Blu-ray + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet)
5. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [Blu-ray]

ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS

Boys of Abu Ghraib Starring John Heard, Sean Astin and Sara Paxton

Cold Blooded Starring Ryan Robbins, Zoie Palmer and William MacDonald

Confession of Murder [Blu-ray] Starring Jung Jae-young, Jo Eun-ji, Jang Gwang Choi Won-young

Confine Starring Alfie Allen and Eliza Bennett

Death Do Us Part Starring Peter Benson, Julia Benson, Christine Chatelain

Free Ride Starring Anna Paquin, Cam Gigandet and Drea de Matteo

Legend of the Red Reaper Starring Tara Cardinal, David Mackey, Al Snow and Barry Ratcliff

Mobius (2013)

Mobius [Blu-ray]

Sherlock Holmes: Classic Film and Radio Collection (Videobook) Starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Arthur Wontner and Ian Fleming

Smokin' Aces (Blu-ray + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet) Starring Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Joseph Ruskin and Alex Rocco

Switch [Blu-ray/DVD Combo] Starring Andy Lau

Trap for Cinderella Starring Aneurin Barnard and Tuppence Middleton

ANIME

From the New World: Collection 1 [Blu-ray]

From the New World: Collection 1

Heaven's Lost Property: Season 1 - Classic (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) Starring Greg Ayres, Brittney Karbowski and Eric Vale

One Piece: Collection Nine Starring Luci Christian, Colleen Clinkenbeard and Eric Vale

Saint Seiya: Sanctuary Classic Complete Collection Starring Tôru Furuya, Hirotaka Suzuoki and Ryô Horikawa

Shuriken School: Ninja's Secret

Spice & Wolf: Complete Series (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) Starring J. Michael Tatum, Brina Palencia and Chuck Huber

CARTOONS

The Nut Job (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet) Starring Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl and Brendan Fraser

The Nut Job Starring Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl and Brendan Fraser

The Nut Job (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet) Starring Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson

CLASSICS

Bad Blonde Starring Barbara Payton and Tony Wright (1953)

Double Indemnity - 70th Anniversary Limited Edition (Blu-ray + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet) Starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson

Man Bait Starring George Brent (1952)

Men in War [Blu-ray] (1957)

Sleep My Love [Blu-ray] (1948)

Stolen Face (1952)

Terror Street (1953)

Touch of Evil - Limited Edition (Blu-ray + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet) Starring Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh

COMEDY AND LOVE Mania Style

Mallrats (Blu-ray + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet) Starring Jason Lee, Jeremy London, Shannen Doherty and Kevin Smith

Ride Along (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet) Starring Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo and Bruce McGill

Ride Along Starring Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo and Bruce McGill

Uncle Buck (Blu-ray + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet) Starring John Candy, Jean Louisa Kelly, Macaulay Culkin

Criterion Collection

Breaking the Waves (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray/DVD) Starring Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård and Katrin Cartlidge

HORROR

Bela Kiss: Prologue Starring Kristina Klebe, Fabian Stumm, Julia Horvath

Bloodsucking Freaks (Region Free) [PAL] [Blu-ray] Starring Seamus O'Brien, Viju Krem and Luis De Jesus

Camp Dread Starring Eric Roberts, Danielle Harris, Felissa Rose and Harris

Dead Sea Starring James Duval, Devanny Pinn, Britt Griffith and Chanel Ryan

Evidence Starring Ryan McCoy, Brett Rosenberg and Abigail Richie

Flowers in the Attic (2014)

Playdate Starring Marguerite Moreau, Richard Ruccolo, Abby Brammell

Phantom of the Opera (1989) [PAL] (Region Free) [Blu-ray] Starring Robert Englund, Jill Schoelen and Alex Hyde-White

Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings [Non USA PAL Format] Starring Andrew Robinson, Ami Dolenz, Soleil Moon Frye

Tourist Trap (Region Free) [PAL] [Blu-ray] Starring Chuck Connors, Jocelyn Jones and Jon Van Ness

The Visitant Starring Michele Feren, Tracy Wu and Sallie Glaner

MODERN CLASSICS on BLU-RAY

Reality Bites - 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet) Starring Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [Blu-ray] Starring Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig and Adam Scott

SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY

95ers: Time Runners Starring Alan Peterson, Alesandra Durham, Alix Maria Taulbee

Berserk: Golden Age Arc III - The Advent [Blu-ray]

TV LAND

Beverly Hillbillies: Official Fourth Season

Bletchley Circle: Season 2

The Cosby Show Season 3 Starring Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Lisa Bonet

The Cosby Show Season 4 Starring Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Lisa Bonet

Farscape: Season 4, 15th Anniversary Edition [Blu-Ray] Starring Ben Browder, Claudia Black and Anthony Simcoe

Farscape: Season 4, 15th Anniversary Edition Starring Ben Browder, Claudia Black and Anthony Simcoe

Ripper Street: Season 2 Starring Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, Adam Rothenberg

Ripper Street: Season 2 (Blu-ray) Starring Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, Adam Rothenberg

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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1 
almostunbiased 4/16/2014 5:14:02 PM

Double indemnity is a great classic.  I might pick that up.

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