Touch of Evil

Touch of Evil is a 1958 American film noir written and directed by Orson Welles, who also stars in the film. The screenplay was loosely based on the contemporary Whit Masterson novel Badge of Evil (1956). The cast included Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Joseph Calleia, Akim Tamiroff and Marlene Dietrich.


Along the U.S.–Mexico border, a time bomb placed inside a vehicle explodes, killing two people. Mexican special prosecutor Miguel Vargas, who is honeymooning in town with his new American wife Susie, takes an interest in the investigation, which is being conducted by veteran police captain Hank Quinlan and his devoted, admiring, fanatically loyal assistant, Pete Menzies. Quinlan is a recovering alcoholic and a hateful anti-Mexican bigot. He lost a leg long ago, and now walks with a prosthetic "game" leg and a cane. He implicates Sanchez, a young Mexican man secretly married to the victim's daughter. During the interrogation at Sanchez's apartment, Menzies finds two sticks of dynamite in a shoe-box in the bathroom. Vargas, who had accidentally knocked over the shoe-box a few minutes earlier and found it empty, accuses Quinlan of planting the dynamite, and begins to suspect that many of his previous convictions were similarly tainted. Quinlan angrily dismisses Vargas's allegation.