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Movie Review Example: Analysis of Touch of Evil (1958)

3 pages
797 words
Sewanee University of the South
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The Touch of Evil is one of the many films that have been prejudiced despite the excellent work of laying open the evil hidden in the society. The film opens up with a car bomb that leads to investigations where Quinlan who is one of the investigator plants evidence to manipulate the case. In this case, the film is transparent to bring into light evils in the society in the sense that those with might can get whatever they want at any time through means of corruption hence harming the innocent (Welles et al., 2008). For instance, influential people like McCarthy are feared figures who could get anything he wanted, given the political might even if the acts entailed hurting innocent victims. With his reign of terror, acts of racism, gender, and corruption were significant elements in the society, since the ardent anticommunist, McCarthy had controlled the community, and any action of disloyalty led to charges. Given the fact that people had no way of airing out their fears and sufferings, the film industry through the Touch of Evil gained the courage to reveal the evil elements in the society through various characters as portrayed in the film.

From early 1949 to late 1950s, the period which the film is made and shot, the American society was battling many atrocities, and the film thus employs all the themes of drugs, racism, sexual ambiguities, and manipulation of power, betrayal and even frame-ups through central characters. On the other hand, other seedy characters like the motel manager who is sex-crazed, blind shopkeeper, a sweaty drug dealer, a drug smuggler, a gang of terrorizing juvenile delinquents as well as the good cop develop more the visible evils in the society. Given the character of the narcotic police who is on honeymoon but ignores his wife, it is easier to assert that men dominate women in the sense that they are free to treat women in any way. It is evident from 1958 where the communists' party struggled to support women and other racial people to have the freedom to enjoy their rights despite the challenges caused by the anti-communists. However, the cinematography of the film is seen to negatively impact on the issue of feminism where the cameras are only present in trapping Suzy after being raped by the Grandi thugs (Welles et al., 2008). The manner in which the camera captures Suzy can be termed as "cinematic assault" in that the graphics negatively affects women.

Discursively, the lighting of the film is mostly through the regular employment of low-key to efficiently cast shadows in every possible scene. In using window blinds shadows, the effect is so dramatic to the point that we can assert that the people in the scene have double sides of their lives (good and bad for instance). In the scene where Quinlan and Vargas were in Sanchez's house in search of evidence, shadows are cast on several people by the blinds in the window. It is even apparent to notice that this scene lacked lights signposts into the many evil that these men were planning to accomplish. The fact is evident in the scene where Quinlan strangles Grandi in fear of betrayal by using his wife's leggings, an act that could implicate Susan in the murder even though she is innocent. With the American society battling various challenges that threatened the peaceful life of each citizen, many people had embarked on getting rid of others in the process of covering their mistakes or getting what they want; the likes of McCarthy and other leaders. Furthermore, through neon-like and shadowy lights in most of the scenes reflected on characters insinuate the hidden intentions of each man while slide lighting aimed at exposing their false identities (Welles et al., 2008). Arguably, with the plot of the film starting from the death of a couple through an explosion, we are introduced to characters that seem to have their motives as opposed to investigating and solving the crime. In this case, the audience is clear to see how those in power, are corrupt enough to overlook the sufferings of citizens but satisfy their needs even if through malicious means. The plot lay open such issues in the society for instance where the judge during Negro hearing angrily scolded an insistent Green who wanted to testify on the problems the black people faced. Despite the fact that judge knew what these people were going through, he cut Green off by claiming that it was a repetition of the black liberation struggles testimony. It is therefore conclusive that Touch of Evil is a film that can be considered a mirror of the society of the time.


Welles, O., Heston, C., Leigh, J., Calleia, J., Tamiroff, A., Moore, J., ... & Dietrich, M. (2008). Touch of evil. Universal Pictures.

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