All Stillness is Still Movement

Touch of Evil

Orson Welles, 1958 (1998 re-edit is what I watched)

A bomb is cranked and thrown in the trunk of the car.  A man and sexy dish of a woman get in the car and drive around the block and out onto the street and we follow this car down the street till our attention comes to a man named Vargas and his beautiful new bride and we follow them and there exchanges with each other and other people until they sync back with the car and the sets of characters greet each other.  Seconds later, the car bursts into flames and smithereens.


Orson Welles hits the scene, he’s Captain Quinlan.  He’s capital L Large.  He talks slow and fat and slurs like the drunk he used to be and will be again.  Most importantly, he limps. He has a game leg.  He’s out of sync with the movement of everything around him, with the people, and the camera.

Dennis Weaver plays briefly, brilliantly, the Night Clerk at the Motel.  He’s too fast, too jittery, there’s nothing smooth about him, he’s all wrinkle.  He’s out of sync too.  It’s everything for the camera to keep up with him.

Charlton Heston is on the phone talking to his wife in the foreground, in the background while Quinlan’s partner brings in the crime boss that was trailing him in the background.  Stillness in the foreground, that means watch the back.

From the car crash, everybody moves in and out of each others paths, always to intersect again. The crime boss to the wife to Vargas to Quinlan’s  partner to the crime boss to Quinlan back to the wife and again to Vargas.

Holy shit, great movie, man.

-Daniel Von Egidy, 2010




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