Monday, July 07, 2008

Finally, Touch of Evil As Albert Zugsmith Intended It

We probably won't see a lot of Universal catalogue product in the next while, after the fire, but here's some good news: on October 7, Universal is finally releasing all three versions of Touch of Evil. The original 1958 release (96 minutes) the longer pre-release preview version (108 minutes) and the revised version based on Orson Welles' famous memo to the studio. Each version comes with audio commentary; the late Charlton Heston recorded a commentary for the revised version (with Janet Leigh).

I much prefer the earlier versions of Touch of Evil, either the theatrical version or the preview version, to the "restoration," for reasons I've gone into before. Short version is, I think of Touch of Evil as an Albert Zugsmith film as well as a Welles film, and I think it was short-sighted to assume that the movie should follow all the suggestions Welles made in his memo; just because something was done over Welles' objections doesn't mean it doesn't belong in the film. I prefer the credits over the opening shot, and many other touches -- including some of Zugsmith's trademark exploitation touches like lingering on the bug-eyed corpse of Joe Grandi -- that were lost in the restored version. But the best thing, as with Blade Runner, is to have all the versions available. Which will now be the case.

October 7 also brings two-disc releases of Psycho, Vertigo and Rear Window, finally justifying my reluctance to shell out for the Universal Alfred Hitchcock collection because I figured there would be further releases of these movies.


Thad said...

THANK YOU. I almost bought the Hitchock masterpiece collection and am very glad I decided against it after reading your post.

Anonymous said...

This is *fantastic* news. Along with the (semi-)restored Metropolis, this is turning into quite a week.

For me, the killer blow for the "restored" version is the lack of music over the opening credits. I don't care what Welles wanted, Mancini's title music is awesome.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how much may have been referenced from "Touch of Evil" to make the later "Psycho" on the same backlot a couple of years later.