The MoFo Top 100 Film Noir Countdown

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Near the Plaza was a little café called La Mar Azul, next to a movie house. I sat there in the afternoons and drank beer. I used to sit there half asleep with a beer in the darkness, only the music from the movie next door kept jarring me awake. And then I saw her - coming out of the sun. And I knew why Whit didn't care about that 40 grand.
Out of the Past and In a Lonely Place are not only two of my favorite classic Film-Noirs but also two of my favorite films of all times and genres. Had them at 4th and 6th place on my list.

3. The Narrow Margin (1952)
4. Out of the Past (1947)
5. Murder, My Sweet (1944)
6. In a Lonely Place (1950)
7. The Big Heat (1953)
8. Rebecca (1940)
9. Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

10. Bob Le Flambeur (1956)
11. The Breaking Point (1950)
12. Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
13. The Killing (1956)
14. Gilda (1946)
15. Notorious (1946)
17. The Wrong Man (1956)

18. Night and the City (1950)
19. The Mob (1951) DNP
20. Kansas City Confidential (1952)
22. Laura (1944)
23. The Set-Up (1949)
24. I Walk Alone (1947) DNP
25. Kiss of Death (1947)

A system of cells interlinked
  1. The Third Man
  2. The Maltese Falcon
  3. Touch of Evil
  4. Double Indemnity
  5. Sunset Boulevard
“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” ― Thomas Sowell

  1. The Third Man
  2. The Maltese Falcon
  3. Touch of Evil
  4. Double Indemnity
  5. Sunset Boulevard

Waits until teacher isn't looking. Copies answers from Sedai's test.

#5 Touch of Evil (1958)

Director: Orson Welles
Production: Universal International Pictures
Cast: Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Janet Leigh
596 Points, 36 Lists

'A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping and police corruption in a Mexican border town.'


1. Sunset Boulevard
2. The Maltese Falcon
3. The Third Man
4. Double Indemnity
5. Touch of Evil
1. Double Indemnity
2. The Maltese Falcon
3. Sunset Boulevard
4. The Third Man
5. Touch of Evil
1. Double Indemnity
2. Sunset Boulevard
3. The Third Man
4. The Maltese Falcon
5. Touch of Evil
Did you guys hack my computer and take a peak at the noir countdown list

Touch of Evil was #20 on the MoFo Top 100 of the 1950s.
"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra

Touch of Evil is good, but didn't quite make my ballot. I anticipate that three more films from my ballot will make the countdown.

Seen: 95/96

I found Touch of Evil to be pretty good on a recent visit. Welles is arguably my favorite director but I enjoy his other works more. Worthy entry even if I wouldn't have placed it quite this high up.

My old review:

Touch of Evil
(Orson Welles 1958)

Marlene Dietrich once said of her time working with the great Orson Welles, ''People should cross themselves when they speak of him.'' Indeed, Orson was a genius and he shows his mastery of visual arts in his 1958 film noir, Touch of Evil.

The film's opening sequence goes down in the annuals of cinematography as one of the great camera shots of all time. We the audience, sees one long and uninterrupted tracking shot. Orson set the bar with this shot which latter would be duplicated by other film makers.

Originally Universal Pictures, the studio bank rolling the movie, wanted the film to be shot on a studio lot on constructed sets. But Orson would have none of that preferring to shoot in a real city. He decided to film almost exclusively at night, which gave him control over the production. Sadly, during post production editing, Orson was out of the country and so despite his objections, the film was cut up by the studio. A situation that ironically Orson complains about in the movie Ed Wood.

Orson Welles as the corrupt Police Chief, Hank Quinlan

With the sole exception of Citizen Kane, Orson's feature films would all suffer the same indignation of being hacked up by the studios, thus destroying much of Welles' film vision and ultimately causing him to retreat from Hollywood, which robed us of what might have been a large canon of masterpieces by Welles.
When Orson Welles initially discovered the studio had cut his film in his absence, he fired off a detailed 58 page memo on how he wanted the film to be edited. The memo was presumed lost until found to be in the position of Charleston Heston, years latter. Universal Studios in 1998 gave it's OK and the once cut up film was restored to Welles ideas, giving the boy genius his film back.

One of the hallmarks of Touch of Evil is the cinematic idea Welles adopted after watching (and being confused by) another great film noir, The Big Sleep. Welles once stated his goal was to infuriate the audience with a closed-lip plot. He does that by keeping the audience in the dark as he shows us the events as they happen and at almost real time. We go along for the investigation and are told nothing of the back stories of the characters we encounter. Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston) is our proxy and we are kept as clueless as he is at the start of the film. Only as he begins to discover the truth, do we. Welles extenuates that feeling by use of many closeups and low angle camera shots, which makes us feel like we're a fly on the wall, listening in.

Welles chews the scenery in most films he appears in. Sometimes that doesn't work well, but like Kane, his characterization here helps give the film impact. I liked Charleston Heston in this, I think he makes a fine proxy for the audience as we go along for the ride at his side. Janet Leigh made a good victim! And woo hoo! We even get Zsa Zsa Gabor and the great Marlene Dietrich. I love Marlene's character in this film and she loved being in it and working with the master, Orson Welles.

Two of the top 5 were on my prelim list but shot way up into my own top 10 Noir with rewatches for the list. There were specific reasons that differed between the movies. For Touch Of Evil I believe it was the transfer I watched this viewing, which was my third. I really loved the look of the movie this time compared to the others.

What I have loved every viewing is the sweaty slimy atmosphere. This is, of course, exemplified perfectly by Welles character. I absolutely love him here, one of my favorite performances in Noir, or any movie for that matter, period. Chewing scenery goes one of two ways for me, and if I like the movie overall I eat a character like this up.

Touch Of Evil is a great one. Landed at 4 on my list.

Yeah, I figured this would be the next one. Touch of Evil was a recent watch for me so here is my full review and a bit of what I wrote:

Objectively speaking, this is a pretty good film. Welles does a great job both behind and in front of the camera. His Quinlan is certainly despicable, but still layered. There's so much thing that he does with his expressions and his stance that communicate so much. As for his direction, what can be said? From the impressive opening shot, you know you're in for a technical treat. He uses some techniques similar to the ones he used in Citizen Kane, low angle shots, pans and zooms, but he also manages to create a good deal of tension, especially regarding the fate of Vargas' wife, Susie (Janet Leigh).
So even though I have some issues with it, I think it is a pretty good film and most definitely noir. I had it at #19.

SEEN: 36/96
MY BALLOT: 21/25

My ballot  
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List facts!
  • Touch of Evil is Orson Welles' fourth entry in the countdown, after The Lady from Shanghai (#31), The Stranger (#38), and Mr. Arkadin, a.k.a. Confidential Report (#79).
  • Its IMDb rating of 8.0 is tied for the second highest, along with Out of the Past, Sweet Smell of Success, and The Night of the Hunter.

A system of cells interlinked
Of course Touch of Evil was on my list at #7.

The now legendary opening scene is well-known, and showed the forward-thinking and inventive creativity and technical prowess of Orson Welles. His performance is also excellent. The blemish on this film for me is Heston, who is kind of over-the-top in places and is just basically being Charlton Heston. I don't dislike the guy, but he is not a favorite, either.

Still, the pros far outweigh the cons here, and it certainly belongs in the Top 10.