Monday, March 24, 2014

TODAY'S NUGGET: Touch of Evil (1958) - When to "State the Obvious"

[Quick Summary: A newly married Mexican cop investigates a bombing, kidnapping, and corruption in a border town.]

In 1958, confidence in Orson Welles was low. 

- It had been 12 years since his last Hollywood film.

- Universal released Touch of Evil "as a cheap bottom-of-the-bill thriller and declined to enter it officially in a competition at the 1958 Brussels World Fair..."* It won first prize anyway.

If you read this script:

- Don't miss how Welles fleshed out this novel.**

- Notice how Welles punctuates a run of dialogue: 
"They eye each other carefully, in silence. This is clearly a case of hate at first sight." 
The last sentence states the obvious (which I've always tried to avoid).

However, here, it also marks the moment that the stakes have risen.

Ah-ha!  It's used for emphasis and transition. *Light bulb goes on*

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: This is another tool for my writing toolbox.

I'm learning more and more when and where to use the right tool.

Touch of Evil (1958)
by Orson Welles
Based on the novel, Badge of Evil, by Whit Masterson

* Touch of Evil: Orson Welles (Rutgers Films in Print, Vol. 3), p. 41.

** See "The Evolution of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil from Novel to Film" by John Stubbs, Cinema Journal 24, no. 2 (Winter 1985): 19-39.  It is reprinted here, and contains a thorough comparison of the book, draft #1, and Welles's final draft. 

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