I remember many years ago, while taking a film class at my local community college, the professor wanted to teach us about the many different shooting techniques and tricks. When it came down to teaching us what a long take was he showed us a clip from Orson Welles' "Touch of evil". The film apart from being a noir classic and considered by many to be one of Welles' best films it is widely known for its iconic opening scene; a beautifully-crafted three and a half minute long take which sets the bar for the rest of the film.
Newlyweds Miguel Vargas (Charlton Heston) a Mexican drug enforcement agent and Susie Vargas (Janet Leigh) are crossing the Mexican border into the United states when they witness a car bomb explode. Realizing the implications of a terrorist attack on US soil, Vargas decides to get involved in the investigation, led by local legendary cop Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) and his long-time partner Pete Menzies (Joseph Calleia). Vargas becomes aware of corruption within the organization and tries to bring this to the public light while trying to save her kidnapped wife from local gangsters.
Welles' determination to preserve the film to his original vision is notable. He fought an endless battle with the studio who insisted on trimming the overall length of the film and reshooting some of the scenes. After he refused to do this, the studio brought it a new director to finish the film to their liking. After watching the studio cut he was so appalled that he decided to write a 58-page long memo to the studio demanding very specific changes that needed to be made in order to make the film what he originally envisioned. The studio turned down his request and released the film in 1958, running at 95 minutes. Many years later, in 1998 American editor Walter Murch re-edited the film based on Welles' memo and the film was released in 1998 and this is considered by many to be the definite version of the film (Sort of a director's cut if you will).
This film is a beauty to watch, as it has amazing camera work that brings out Welles' talent in an spectacular way, his commitment to this film is truly amazing and the performances by our 3 main characters are near-perfect. The film's climatic ending scene will keep you glued to the edge of your seat. This is definitely a true classic of American cinema that you must watch (and by all means watch the restored version if you can).