Good news for Touch of Evil fans. Jonathan Rosenbaum hinted at this in a footnote to his recent post on director’s cuts, but today Universal put out the official press release announcing that a new, two-disc set will be released October 7 including not only the 1998 re-edited version of the film, but, for the first time ever on DVD, the original 1958 version which, for all the compromises it endured, was still the version that won decades of critical acclaim and attention. The set will also include a third, more obscure version of the film, as well as various commentaries, featurettes and the complete 58-page memo that director-star Orson Welles gave the studio after seeing a rough cut of the film in 1957. And all for only $27 — or $20 if you pre-order it at Amazon.com.
This movie is noteworthy for all sorts of movie-buffish reasons. It was the last movie Welles directed for a Hollywood studio, and it is widely regarded as the last major film of the classic film noir era. It is also probably the most significant film Charlton Heston made between The Ten Commandments (1956) and Ben-Hur (1959), and it features Janet Leigh being terrorized in a motel two years before her more infamous motel experience in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). It also features Mercedes McCambridge as a menacing gang leader, a decade and a half before she provided the voice of the demon in The Exorcist (1973), and it gives Marlene Dietrich a small but significant part in one of her last performances ever.
Final note for Vancouverites: The 1998 version is returning to the VanCity Theatre for two nights at the end of August, where it will be introduced by Rick Schmidlin, a film historian and archivist who supervised the editing of this version. Sounds like fun.