High and Low: From Pulp to Poetry
Screening Dates
  • July 4, 2019 8:45
  • July 5, 2019 6:30
  • July 8, 2019 8:45

A Goya-like vision of an infected universe” (Peter Bogdanovich), Orson Welles’s spectacularly seedy 1958 noir (screening here in its 1998 reconstruction) is one of the great director’s major masterpieces. Adapted from a pulp novel by the pseudonymous Whit Masterson, Touch of Evil is set in a town along the California-Mexico border, where a murder investigation brings Mexican narcotics agent Vargas (Charlton Heston), honeymooning with his American wife Susan (Janet Leigh), into conflict with corner-cutting Hank Quinlan (Welles), the local American lawman. Employing his characteristic baroque compositions, director Welles weaves a tour-de-force tapestry of the grotesque out of flea-bag motels, pot-smoking delinquents, butch bikers, and sweaty backwater hoodlums. Marlene Dietrich appears as the madam of a Mexican bordello. The swooning, three-minute, single-take opening sequence may be the greatest single shot ever put on film” (James Monaco, The Movie Guide).