Touch of Evil – dir. Orson Welles – 1958 – Original Theatrical Trailer
By: Kris Tronerud
When Charlton Heston, one of the last of Hollywood’s old-school megastars, passed away in April of this year, it became evident that, aside from his iconic performances in the likes of The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur and El Cid, and the hugely popular sci fi potboilers of his later career (Planet of the Apes, Omega Man, Soylent Green), many remember him best today for an aggressive support of Gun Control which culminated in leadership of the NRA and that notorious, slightly over the top pry-it-from-my-cold-dead-hands’ moment. While many (including your writer) found these moments rather regressive and sad, Heston’s feelings in the matter were sincere, and based in a genuine love of his country and its Constitution. Today, it is seldom remembered that this love of country and its founding principles also led Heston, in the 60’s, to lend his time and public stature to help champion the Civil Rights movement in its most turbulent moments. And while Heston was adept at choosing roles which would almost certainly guarantee big paychecks and career advancement, his naturally contrarian nature and artistic curiosity also led him to periodically seek out smaller films and more challenging roles, as he did in 1968, in signing on to maverick director Sam Peckinpah’s Major Dundee (much, at least during filming, to his ultimate consternation), and it was this unfulfilled artistic streak, and his growing concerns about the racial divide that was rapidly coming to boil in America, that led him, close on the heels of the enormous success of The Ten Commandments, to sign on to a relatively low-profile, racially charged film noir called Touch of Evil.