My God, Orson Welles was a fat tub of goo. But don't let that fool you. There's no better proof than "Touch of Evil" that fat people aren't slower or less ambitious than skinny folks. Hell, between French cruellers and Ring-Dings, Chubby wrote, directed and starred in this incredibly complex noir flick.
Charlton Heston is Mike Vargas, a high-ranking Mexican policeman who is honeymooning on the Mexican-American border with his hot wife Susan, played by pointy-boobed Janet Leigh. Before they can screw to make the marriage official, the newlyweds witness the explosion of some rich guy's car. The bomb was planted in Mexico, but the car blows up in the good old U. S. of A., and that means a potential international incidence more serious than the time former San Diego Padres pitcher Lamarr Hoyt tried to smuggle 1000 valiums across the border in his crotch.
Welles is Hank Quindlen, police captain in the filthy town on the north side of the Mexican border. Fatty Boombalatty has questionable morals and relies pretty heavily on twitches in his game leg to help him make police decisions. He and Heston have to work together to solve the murder. Welles' dishonesty and twitchy leg piss Heston off. He thinks Welles framed a kid for the crime to hide his own corrupt ties to the local drug-runners, the greasy Grande family.
Meanwhile, Heston is having problems of his own with those pesky Grandes. He is due to testify against the family's leader, and certain family members are hell-bent on intimidating him and the new wifey. In fact, they kidnap her.
With Heston acting like a burr up both their asses, Grande and Welles see an opportunity to cooperate. Grande will make Leigh look like a dope fiend in exchange for getting rid of anal-retentive supercop Heston. Getting Leigh hopped up is meant to prove to Welles' bosses that Heston is a junkie and his claims of Welles' corruption are unfounded. (Note to my boss: see how easy it is to frame someone? I repeat, I am not the person stealing toilet paper from the break room john.) Before he can repay the favor, Welles kills the main Grande and makes it look like part of Leigh's drug binge.
Anyone that ever saw "Planet of the Apes" knows that you don't want to piss off Mr. Charlton Heston. I mean, for fuck's sake, the guy is head of the NRA or something. But he is as angry as a shit-smeared debutante, and he makes it his mission to bring down the fatso.
The best strengths of this movie are that Welles makes it beautifully filthy, and that the plot is bulletproof. "Touch of Evil" isn't filthy with bad words like cocksucker, dumbshit, asshole and buttfuck. It's filthy down to its core. Every scene takes place in a dark corner of a run-down motel, a litter strewn slum street, or among the oil derricks that dot the Mexican-American border. I got the creeps from the shadows darting across the walls, the characters' perfectly toned amorality, and the way everyone crossed the border to do what they couldn't get away with in their own country.
Everything outside Heston and Leigh is tainted by a skulking evil. Welles shows the border towns like they were the narrow strip of land between me and Old Man Grover's property. Neither of us is really sure whose responsible for cleaning it, and that bastard wouldn't ever do anything to benefit me, so he lets it get overgrown and littered.
Unlike most of the rolls of celluloid crap being farted out by Hollywood, "Touch of Evil" makes sense. Every scene is in place and moves the story forward. My little mind, numb as it was from the previous night's 50 cent drafts at the It'll Do Lounge, worked as hard as it could to keep up. And when it caught up, I didn't say, "But wait a minute, what about..." I just said, "Oh, yeah..." It's a little something called attention to detail that the goatee-sporting dicks in the "biz" usually ignore so they can fit in another exploding building.
Welles is fucking fantastic in the film, even at 800 or 900 pounds. His fat ass is a genuine plus, because he's this hulking mass that lingers in every scene. His clothes are disheveled and he hasn't shaved, but his eyes are bright and his mind goes a million miles a minute. He scares the shit out of everyone not because he might sit on them, but because he's way ahead of them. The fucker knows what will happen next and he's already planned for it.
Even though I really liked it, "Touch of Evil" ain't perfect. I don't care how tan he is, or how skinny his mustache is, Charlton Heston does not make a believable Mexican. I expected him to yell, "Get your damn, dirty paws off me." Dennis Weaver also makes a weird-ass appearance as a wacko motel owner. I don't know if his character was supposed to be comic relief or creepy, but whatever it was, it sure felt a hell of a lot like overacting.
"Touch of Evil" ain't the momentous filmmaking masterpiece that all the ass-kissing fuckers in the newspapers are saying. That pack of sycophants (thank you, Mrs. Filthy, for telling me how to spell that) are just afraid to say otherwise. But there are others of its type, especially those of that other lard-ass, Alfred Hitchcock, that I like even more.
Don't get me wrong, though, it's a damn good movie. It's easily
a better reason to go to the multiplex than "Holy Man"
or any other shit out there. It's a four finger film in