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U.S., 1958
Directed by Orson Welles
Starring Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Marlene Dietrich
Approx. 112 min. DCP (reconstructed version).

“An hour ago Rudy Linnekar had this town in his pocket. Now you can strain him through a sieve.” Police corruption and murder on the border, as Mexican narc Charlton Heston, on a Yankee honeymoon with gringa bride Janet Leigh, finds himself pressed into service by memorably bloated police chief Orson Welles when a car bomb vaporizes both businessman and blonde. With a legendary opening crane shot that follows the actors for blocks; dark-wigged madam Marlene Dietrich’s deadpan greeting to Welles (“You a mess, honey. You been eatin’ too much candy.”), as Henry Mancini’s pianola tune tinkles in the background; the PSYCHO-like frisson of Leigh’s morning-after view of Akim Tamiroff’s upside-down, tongue-distended kisser; and concluding with an elaborately intercut chase by Heston over, under, around and through the canals of Venice (California, that is), Welles’ first American film in a decade — and his last — is a festival of bizarre camera angles, mile-long shots and baroque lighting — stunningly photographed by Russell Metty.


“THE TALLEST TREE IN THE WILDERNESS OF WELLES’ POST-KANE CAREER! The dialogue is as intricately overlapped as the lighting is cross-hatched; the cameos are as vivid as possible in a black-and-white movie; the camera work and blocking have the coordination of an Olympic pole vaulter.”
– J. Hoberman

“Wizardly moving camera shots, nightmarish angles and incredibly florid, amusing performances pack the movie... a wondrous gift no movie lover should miss.”
– Michael Wilmington

“No amount of repeated viewings can dull the edge of its sinister ambience or soften the visual excitement Welles brought to this quintessentially cinematic film.”
– Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Film Forum