Saturday, July 7, 2012

TOUCH OF EVIL - Henry Mancini - "¿Dónde Está Mi Esposa" (1958)

"Touch Of Evil" is one of my favourite movies, and goes way beyond being merely special with an all-star cast, this film is Magnífico y Súper Fantástico!!! The Maestro Henry Mancini wrote the score, and although Henry is well known as the composer of "The Pink Panther Theme," and "Moon River," my favourite of his works will always be the timeless "Peter Gunn" theme!! Working effortlessly in all genres, including the Whitey Thomas era of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Here's just a small snippet of how Hank could rock!

You would't really think a couple of D cell batteries and a cheap $2.99 kitchen timer would be capable of causing much trouble, but....

...this vintage Chrysler and it's passengers are about to become toast! This movie starts off with about a four minute single shot that follows the car right to the point where it explodes, while at the same time introducing the stars Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh as Mike and Susan Vargas! The gal in the car is just one of the four and a half classic beauties of celluloid in this movie, Joi Lansing as Zita! Reading the credits, I knew Joi was in this film, but it took me forever to find out where, since she's gone before it really gets rolling hard!

This is one film that I'm not going to say much about the people involved, because unlike the Director Orson Welles, I'm only mortal! Orson also gets credit for his starring role, and for writing the screenplay, but it was based on a novel titled "Badge Of Evil" by Whit Masterson! Living large, Orson's character Police Captain Hank Quinlan, is made to look even bigger than life, by constantly having the camera shot up at him from a lower position!

Here's a good topic for discussion! So what do you think, does the Oscar winning Charlton Heston make a convincing Mexican? His Spanish is fairly decent! It's very odd, but it seems to work!

The Grande Familia, Akim Tamiroff as Uncle Joe Grandi, and Valentin de Vargas as pinche Pancho! Valentin was the 'go to' guy for many a Mexican and/or American Indian role for many years. Akim was actually of Armenian descent! Every Mexican guy I know named Pancho's real name is Francisco, but actually it's Javier!

For Janet Leigh,"Touch Of Evil" was two years before "Psycho" and 9 years after her appearance in the first Jerry Lewis directed short film ironically titled "How To Smuggle A Hernia Across The Border!"

I told you there were four beauties, here Zsa Zsa Gabor makes a very brief appearance as the strip club owner as Hank Quinlan gobbles down another candy bar!!

This is one of the few times you'll see Hank Quinlan smile in this movie, and here's the reason why....

.....Hank has just cast his eyes on his old flame, the amazing Marlene Dietrich as the bar owner Tanya! I would say at this very point in time, or maybe any time, Marlene was the hottest 57 year old woman on the planet!!!

For various reasons, the Grandi family is trying to make the Vargas's life miserable by doing crap like aiming a flashlight at Susan Vargas through the Hotel window from some adjacent building just to be creepy!

Susan has had enough, and tells her husband she needs to go back over the border to America where she would feel safer!!

Right!!!! She ends up just across the border in the middle of nowhere at the lovely Mirador Motel, a place with no other customers that just also happens to be owned by the Grandi family!

Dennis Weaver has the role of the night man at The Mirador, and he's so weird, you think he's going to go all Anthony Perkins on Janet, but he's a little too crazy to go that far!

You think this blind woman's role has some significant purpose as she listens in on Mike's phone call, but it's just Orson being weird!

Janet Leigh was a real valley girl having been born in Merced, California! Her arm was broken before this film started production, and they had to take the cast off and do everything in their power to not make it look broken during the shoot!

"Hey Captain, Look what I found!" Joseph Calleia is Police Sergeant Pete Menzies, Captain Quinlan's lackey and partner, planting evidence and doing whatever it takes to make the Captain the most respected cop in the land despite his obvious personality defects! Joe was in at least two classic big monkey movies, The Gorilla," and "The Monster And The Girl!"

Grandi and Quinlan strike up a deal with The Devil, and after Uncle Joe proposes a toast, Hank tells him he doesn't drink after having his 3rd or 4th double bourbon!

Irish Catholic Mercedes McCambridge has the role of the bad ass leader of the pack! Mercedes McCambridge also had a stunning career that included an Oscar winning performance in her film debut, "All The King's Men," but her most well known accomplishment was as the voice of the devil child in "The Exorcist!" Originally not credited as promised, she made an appeal, and they had to make a new print that included her name in the credits!

"Touch Of Evil" is a great good cop/bad cop and race relations in the 50's story, and I have no doubt that this scene has multiple interpretations as big loser Hank and the big stuffed head of a once proud bull that eventually lost the fight, are shot in juxtaposition to one another!

Hank asks Tanya to read the cards, and tell him what his future holds, but instead she says, "You have no future Hank!"

Now the camera shoots down because a totally defeated Hank Quinlan is no longer the big man he used to be! "Touch Of Evil" is dark, gritty, and grimy like a chocolate bar dropped in the dirt! Just pick it up, eat it and enjoy!

4 comments:

Randy Wilharm said...

More luminaries in this film than a
christmas tree has...!

This is definitely one of your best
pictorials...now I have to rent the movie!

Have A Good One..

Eegah!! and Tabonga! said...

You will not regret it Randy, I guarantee!

D. McEwan said...

Amidst all the ghastly, guilty pleasures, and guilty not-pleasures this blog so lovingly chronicles, this masterpiece of cinema stands out like a not-sore thumb.

Eegah!! and Tabonga! said...

Thanx Doug, as you know, "Touch Of Evil" is one movie that actually is even better than it looks here!

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