Lists are great. They inspire discussion, create arguments, and tend to spiral off into fun new lists. When you do a list about the “BEST” of anything it goes from being fun to becoming a hotbed for arguments. There’s no such thing as a definitive list but I’ve decided to pull from my rather extensive life of film watching and put it to good use.
This is not the “film critic’s top 100” list. There’s no guarantee Citizen Kane or The Bicycle Thief will be in the top echelon or even on the list. This is the 100 movies I would put my name on as my top 100. If I died tomorrow this would represent the 100 films I find most vital, special, or ones that bonded to whatever it is that makes me me. I’m not including documentaries, though that might make for a nice supplemental list.
The first 80 will be in no particular order. The last 20 will be in very particular order. One a day, you have my word.
#13 – Touch of Evil
This is the top twenty. These are in order.
Why is it here:
Note: This most applies to Walter Murch’s painstaking edit of this movie.
My favorite Orson Welles movie. My favorite noir. Everything about it is golden, even Charlton Heston’s questionable place at the epicenter of such a major work. Not who you’d expect to accurately portray a Mexican cop, Heston does just fine but it’s Orson Welles who is the star of the film in every way. It’s not as seminal as Citizen Kane and not as dramatically resonant as The Magnificent Ambersons but Touch of Evil is its own vicious animal and the coolest and most rewarding of the three. Murder! Intrigue! And a visionary filmmaker absolutely crushing it. What a great cast too. Watch it and wonder where we’d be without it.
Moments to savor:
That opening shot. Welles as his oiliest. The use of shadow. This is as noir as noir gets. Seeing folks like Marlene Dietrich, Joseph Cotton, Dennis Weaver, and more pop up throughout. Heston’s amazing mustache. Welles, so good as an actor you almost forget just how unique a talent he was. The drug stuff. Janet Leigh, not ugly.
This is my Citizen Kane of Orson Welles’s stuff.