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TOUCH OF EVIL question here...

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Why is it much of Orson Welles' dialogue sounds as if he had later dubbed himself in it?

 

screen-shot-2013-07-30-at-6-03-06-pm.png

 

And come to think of it, the sound track in the whole film seems to be a millisecond off and thus making it seem as if everyone in it had been called in later to re-dub their parts, and in the process also giving the complete soundtrack a rather "flat" tone without any "depth" to it, and making both characters near to or far from the camera sound the same distance from it.

 

(...okay all you cinema and/or Welles experts around here, gimme the lowdown here!)

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You are 100% correct.  Much of it was dubbed afterward.  If you look at the shooting style it would have been a very rough sounding production sound recording necessitating re-recording the dialogue in a studio afterward.  You find this in many of Welles' films. It is the price you pay for such great fluid creative shots.  It would be very difficult for the boom microphone to capture everything and there were no radio mics back then.  Today, in shots like that the actors are all wearing body microphones.

As for it being flat, again that is due to the actors re-recording it in a studio and all standing about six inches away from the microphone which they are not doing in the picture.  In films today there are audio tricks to better replicate the acoustic qualities you would find in these rooms and in the exteriors.

All that said, I rather like the surreal audio quality in his films.

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Thanks for the clarification on this, Bogie. Yep, I thought this might have been the reason for what I'm hearing while viewing this classic tonight.

 

It does seem because much of this film was shot on location(in this case Venice California for many shots) and not on some sound stage somewhere, the problems for the sound crew would seem more challenging, wouldn't it. Especially during outdoor locations.

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Thanks for the clarification on this, Bogie. Yep, I thought this might have been the reason for what I'm hearing while viewing this classic tonight.

 

It does seem because much of this film was shot on location(in this case Venice California for many shots) and not on some sound stage somewhere, the problems for the sound crew would seem more challenging, wouldn't it. Especially during outdoor locations.

 

I remember my first trip to LA in the 70's.  I got out of the car at an intersection in Venice and went 'wow.'  It was the main drag from Touch of Evil and was just missing the sign which read '20 Sizzling Strippers.'

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I remember my first trip to LA in the 70's.  I got out of the car at an intersection in Venice and went 'wow.'  It was the main drag from Touch of Evil and was just missing the sign which read '20 Sizzling Strippers.'

 

Well, back then Bogie, you had to go a few miles south and a bit east from Venice and drive along Century Blvd just east of LAX to see signs like that.

 

'Cause like many cities back in the day, the strip joints where close to the airports.

 

(...not that I'm any kind'a expert about this, you understand) ;)

 

LOL

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Well, back then Bogie, you had to go a few miles south and a bit east from Venice and drive along Century Blvd just east of LAX to see signs like that.

 

'Cause like many cities back in the day, the strip joints where close to the airports.

 

(...not that I'm any kind'a expert about this, you understand) ;)

 

LOL

 

What kind of beer did they serve at those strip joints?

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All that said, I rather like the surreal audio quality in his films.

Yes...it becomes a stylistic device (in Welles' case, almost a gimmick). The MGM film DESIGNING WOMAN has scenes shot at the Beverly Hills Hotel, as well as on the studio sound stage. Vincente Minnelli seems to have re-recorded all the dialogue, so it has the same audio quality throughout.

 

Some directors do this because it gives them more control in the editing process. It's a type of formalism, as opposed to naturalism.

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What kind of beer did they serve at those strip joints?

 

Cold.

 

Well, at least that's what I remember the beer to be at the "Wild Goose", a little joint just south of Century Blvd and situated along Aviation Blvd near LAX, anyway.

 

And ya know, the food there was pretty darn good too. Especially the french dip sandwiches.

 

(...although once again, not that I'm any kind'a expert about all this) 

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"An honest cop! Then this Mexican comes along and--look at the spot he puts me in!"

I can probably recite the whole climax of the film verbatim. As well as the scenes where Hank chats with Tana. Could write it all out on a napkin without more than a moment's thought. Have listened to it hundreds of times.

In the final showdown between Vargas and Quinlan, I can point out places where words and phrases were recorded once, then re-used over and over again, to create the a coherent flow of dialog.

For instance when Quinlan froths and splutters at the Vargas he knows is somewhere around, (but can't see). "Vargas? Vargas! Where is he...? Vargas? I'm talking to you now...not this walking microphone that used to work for me...!"

It took a lot more work than it seems, to create the back'n'forth accusations going under the Mexican bridge where Vargas' equipment gives-away-the-game and Hank finally turns on Pete.

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Something I've noticed about Touch of Evil that is simultaneously awful and funny, is the treatment of Janet Leigh throughout the film. This poor woman is always getting kidnapped and bound and messed up, there's a strong implication of rape or at least sexual weirdness of some kind or other perpetrated on her, the bad guys keep tying her up and shooting her full of drugs and threatening her or using her to get her husband's attention - - and (sorry, I've seen this film several times, but even the last time was a while ago) -- doesn't someone break her arm or something? What this poor woman goes through !

And yet, husband Charlton Heston, despite any number of declarations of love for her (and aren't they newlyweds?) is constantly abandoning her. Even when she's clearly physically injured and /or traumatized, good old Mike Vargas always seems to have somewhere else to go and has to leave poor Janet to attend to some urgent business. This happens so often, I feel like it's a kind of running joke and actually find it sort of funny.

And what about Mercedes McCambridge's famous utterance, "Wait...I want to watch."

By the way, I suspect that Janet Leigh's character's last name in the film is "Vargas" because  of that artist who drew the (in)famous "Vargas Girls" pin-ups. I suspect it might have been a bit of an in-joke with Welles. After all, think of all the shots he has of Janet Leigh in her underwear, pointy bra and all.

Here's a Vargas pin-up drawing. There's probably one that more closely resembles Leigh, but you get the idea:

Image result for vargas pin up girl wearing bra

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MV5BOTY3YjFlMDQtMmE2Ni00YmRkLWJhYzAtZmVj

Yes, the war between Janet Leigh's pointed bra and Akim Tamiroff's cigar.

New husband Heston's constant separation and then effort to find new bride Leigh is like a repetitive dream.

McCambridge appears to be playing a lesbian biker chick.

Whether you think Touch of Evil is brilliant or not you have to take your hat off to Welles for trying to elevate a pulp novel into something more interesting.

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34 minutes ago, Bogie56 said:

MV5BOTY3YjFlMDQtMmE2Ni00YmRkLWJhYzAtZmVj

Yes, the war between Janet Leigh's pointed bra and Akim Tamiroff's cigar.

New husband Heston's constant separation and then effort to find new bride Leigh is like a repetitive dream.

McCambridge appears to be playing a lesbian biker chick.

Whether you think Touch of Evil is brilliant or not you have to take your hat off to Welles for trying to elevate a pulp novel into something more interesting.

Hey, I love Touch of Evil ! I hope my observations about Leigh's treatment in the film didn't make it seem otherwise.

Ya gotta love that long opening shot, by all accounts just one take. Sets up such a sense of excitement and anticipation. Plus that cool music !

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1 hour ago, misswonderly3 said:

 -- doesn't someone break her arm or something? What this poor woman goes through !

I don't think anyone breaks her arm in the movie, but Leigh actually had a broken arm when they started filming.  A special cast was made for her that allowed her keep her arm slightly less bent than a normal cast would so that she looked more natural.  In the famous opening scene, she simply has her coat draped over it.

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What irks me is the huge debate over the various restored versions, directors cuts, etc and the decisions made about what music score to accompany each of the new restorations. I experienced a restored version on the big screen and with the revised music (NOT with Mancini's music). I liked it a lot but still felt cheated.

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Oh and another debate which kinda makes me roll my eyes is the one surrounding 'How GOOD or How BAD Heston's Accent Was".

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8 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

Oh and another debate which kinda makes me roll my eyes is the one surrounding 'How GOOD or How BAD Heston's Accent Was".

Without Charlton Heston there would have been no Orson Welles' Touch of Evil.  And accents?  I'm not one that cares too much.  Sean Connery as an Arab anyone?

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MissWonderlyIII, those observations of your'n are well taken. It is an odd narrative that forces adoring newlywed Miguel Vargas to repeatedly separate from his bride.

I can enumerate some specific points in the film where I too, must raise my eyebrows quizzically.

1. When Quinlan meets Tana in the whorehouse after an interval of maybe...15 or 20 yrs? Since his wife died? He has to announce who he is even though she has had a few moments to look him up and down and to hear his speaking voice. She still doesnt realize who he is even though they are old friends. Even though he has 'let himself go'. But for her not to recognize him at all seems improbable to me.

2. When Quinlan asks Tana whether she knows anything about the bomb and the camera is cutting back and forth between them. Dietrich's reaction shots seem just about to completely lose sync. Look how fast she is puffing her cigarette. They're exhaled before every sentence; but the cut to Welles doesn't even give her enough time to take those drags.

3. Same scene. Dietrich's reaction when Welles first announces he is Hank Quinlan, her "old friend". Now, Dietrich is a fine actress but something was blown here. She barely opens her mouth or even shows any facial reaction whatsoever. Feels like the audience was robbed.

4. Outside the whorehouse (after the first scene of Quinlan+Tana) where Vargas and Al Schwartz inform Quinlan that Vargas' wife was accosted. Quinlan grudgingly takes the report from Vargas, who wants Quinlan to 'do something about it'. Quinlan reminds him that filing a complaint is proper police procedure. Vargas, a high-level government investigator for Interpol (?) seems shocked and astounded at these pragmatic reminders. Vargas seems to want Quinlan to go 'roust' the bar where his wife was insulted. Totally out of character. All the rest of the story, Vargas is shocked at Quinlan's loose-play with police regulations. But when its a personal matter of his own, he apparently wants Quinlan to break the law. (I guess that's the "ironic theme" of the movie ...but it seems 'forced').

5. Same scene. Vargas giving the report to Quinlan (describing how his wife was lured to a dive) and accosted by some Mexican, "short-fat-bald-with-a-cigar...". Vargas doesn't know who this figure is, he's "never run into him before". Quinlan smirks and informs him that this man is 'Uncle Joe". Vargas is mystified. Quinlan is practically laughing at him. And why shouldn't he? The man is "Uncle Joe Grandi". How does Vargas not know the existence of this other Grandi, sibling to the drug-lords he himself has put in jail?

6. In Marsha's apartment where Quinlan interrogates Manolo (the shoe clerk), Al and Vargas in the bathroom where Vargas jostles the empty shoebox. They're discussing the likelihood of Manolo as the suspect. Al asks Vargas who he suspects for the bombing and Vargas suggests Freddie Farnham, (the ex-con working out at Rudy Leineker's construction site). Its the stupidest, most implausible, most far-fetched theory possible, but Al says "Hey amigo, I think you've got something there...!" ((Say what?))

7. At the very end of the film: Al informs Tana that the shoe-clerk simply confessed to the bombing. ((Eh?!)) So the whole reason Vargas got involved turns out to be pointless anyway?

8. In the motel where Vargas' wife is dropped off, and she meets Dennis Weaver the country-music loving 'night man'. He turns on music for her even though she desperately needs sleep. Cringingly, he explains that the music in each room is controlled by the front desk. Was this a standard feature of hotels at that time?

9. Also at the movie's finale: along the Mexican riverbank, (after Quinlan has just shot Pete Menzies) Quinlan points Vargas' gun at Vargas threatening to shoot him and make it look like Vargas had to be shot escaping (after shooting Pete for some unknown motive). Its the most ludicrous plan ever. How does Quinlan even dream he can make such a fairy-tale convincing? And yet he's supposed to be such a savvy cop. He ought to know better. Why did he suddenly lose his professional acumen?

10. Why didn't Quinlan interrogate the lawyer, Howard Frantz? The smooth-talking lawyer of Rudy Leinecker was the lawyer of seemingly every one of the suspects in the film (except Manolo). He was Farnham's lawyer, Marsha's lawyer, Rudy's lawyer, and also the lawyer for the Grandi family (?)

11. Ditto above. Vargas too, 'certainly doesn't think the acid thrown at him had anything to do with this bombing affair' ...even though the same lawyer Frantz was the common link between them all. (Come on, what kind of sleuth are you?)

Oh well. Just a few thoughts ...musing out loud.

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"errrnnnhhh....that pianola music sure brings back memories..."

The cathouse scenes needed some scantily-clad dancing girls like what Carol Reed put into 'The Third Man' cabaret scene

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ANY excuse to discuss TOUCH OF EVIL is welcome!!!

I ALSO visited the filiming site in Venice, California!

This movie is BAROQUE, end of "classic noir," and totally wild anyway.

Every time i see poor Akim Tamiroff strangled, I just start laughing and cannot stop. It is simply absurd, and cruel and funny at the same time.

Joanna Moore hires a lawyer---her Mexican lover is thrown to the wolves.

Zsa Zsa Gabor has only ONE scene---why can't she have an entire subplot? This movie is her sort of thing!

What actually happens to Janet Leigh at the HIGHWAY motel?

------

and, according to one line of dialogue in the movie HITCHCOCK, the Janet Leigh character (Scarlett Johanssen) mentions that Hitch is easy to work for, COMPARED TO ORSON WELLES!

 

????

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Scarlett who? :huh:

Anyway PB, I did not know you were such an ardent fan of this movie. Glad to hear it. It's very much to your credit!

Glad to chat about it any time. I'm not much a fan of Janet Leigh's character in this flick, to be blunt. She's a bit of a shrew. Very short-tempered, whiny and snide. She doesn't want to learn Spanish; she sneers at everything Mexican, really. The hotels aren't good enough for her; nothing's good enough for her.

In the motel I think the plan was to turn her into a junkie (thereby soiling Miguel's reputation as a drug investigator). In return for carrying out this transformation, the gang was probably encouraged to get their kicks with the 'snooty gringa'.

Lots of little character nuances to Quinlkan's character, that's what I like.

Oh and just as an aside: my favorite camera shot is not the 'crane sequence' but the one where Vargas and Schwartz are dashing down the hallway --to the file room --at a dead run. Their jackets billowing out behind them, and the camera following right along!

I love the constant double-plays on the word 'convictions'. Quinlan has lost the convictions of his idealistic youth. Yet he must keep insisting on his record of convictions as evidence of his integrity.

"...look at the record! OUR record, partner!"

"...yeah. yeah..."

"Well? All those ...convictions?"

"How many did you frame?"

"Nobody."

"Come on. How many?"

"I told ya. Nobody. Nobody who wasn't already ...guilty....guilty..."

"Faking evidence!"

"Aiding justice, partner."

 

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It's funny too, how this "Quinlan" character mirrors Welles' "Charles Foster Kane" in terms of their career, their wealth, their prestige, their self-respect.

Kane--one of the wealthiest men in the world--his theme is that of "gaining the world but losing his soul". And he's miserable.

But when Quinlan and Menzies are shuffling along the Mexican wasteland, Hank mopes to Pete:

"Look up there! Look at that oil pump...pumping up money! Money...don't you think I could've been rich? A man in my position? What do I have? A lousy turkey ranch! A couple of acres! That's all I got, after thirty years! An honest cop..."

So Quinlan is a man who maybe hung on to his soul no matter what it cost, no matter how high the price. He was willing to cover it; though it meant his life was a sham. He eschewed all worldly wealth, but wound up no happier than Kane did.

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