Thursday, July 21, 2011

Touch of Evil

Out This November on The Masters of Cinema Series


• Six versions of Welles’ Touch of Evil: the 1998 reconstruction; the 1958 preview version rediscovered in the mid-1970s; and the 1958 theatrical version — each presented in both 1.85:1 and 1.37:1 aspect ratios

• English SDH subtitles on all versions

• A host of extras presented for the first time in the UK

• A lavish 80-PAGE illustrated book containing the words of Orson Welles, and much more

Click here for more details, or go here to Amazon UK to pre-order.



  1. Well, I have no Blue-Ray nor intend to, but I'm afraid this edition will not enable to watch Welles film as it was intended to be, or at least as it was originally projected in most places (which was, I'm afraid, in a 1x1.66 ratio). In any case, it's good to recover the slightly more complete version before the aleged restoration following Welles' memo, which I certainly prefer and is now unavailable on DVD and quite hard to see. But I wonder whether it is really so difficult to ascertain in what ratio it was actually shot and framed (surely there was some pre-designing, since Welles was in the habit of sketching shots), or, as in many instances during the '50s, and particularly at Universal, the films were shot in 1x1.37 and usually screened in 1x1.85, as it happens with most Sirk films, probably filmed with that in mind and perfectly framed for both ratios, so that if you get both versions (in no re-matted or pan-and-scanned prints) you can choose in what of the two ratios you like each film better and prefer to re-watch them. I, for example, prefer to watch most of Sirk's films of the '50 not in CinemaScope (including "Written On The Wind") in Academy ratio, with the possible exceptions of "Taza, Son of Cochise" and "There's Always Tomorrow".
    Miguel Marías

  2. Sorry, I misrecalled "Taza, son of Cochise", which is certainly matted-out in its widescreen version (cutting tops of heads, horns of Apache "priests" and such things) and is therefore best in its 1x1.33 ratio.
    Miguel Marías

  3. Miguel, my colleagues and I have put a lot of work into researching and planning this release, on top of the attention and concern we've shown to the matter intermittently across the years. Touch of Evil, as originally projected in its native country of the United States, was intended for 1.85 matting. This was Universal's 'ratio of policy' in 1958 — a policy which around this same time began to take into account the practice and economics of television sales; as such, it was desirable for the studio that the 1.37:1 open-matte frame look as strong as possible.

    I don't have the time to go into the specifics right now of why we feel it's important that the film be presented in all three versions in both 1.85 and 1.37 ratios. I'll note that the framing also looks acceptable in a 1.66 ratio, which is probably how it was projected throughout Europe, if it wasn't just shown open-matte. If you want to watch the film in 1.66, you'll just need to put the disc with the 1.37 versions of the film into your Blu-ray player, and incrementally use the zoom control on your remote until a 'pillarboxed' 1.66 framing is achieved (losing a bit of a resolution, but that's the only way it can be).

    You seem to corroborate with the note about the Sirk films (the issues around which I'm also well aware) exactly what's gone on with the framings in Touch of Evil.

    A detailed account of the issues surrounding the framings and ratios will be included in the book accompanying the release, which I'm sorry you have no intention of buying.

  4. Thanks, Craig, and I basically agree with the policy you've followed on that edition of "Touch of Evil", allowing to choose between the ratios intended by WHO?
    Universal? or Welles and Metty?
    I only find it utterly distressing that people wherever feel they can do whatever they want with the ratio of a film (which is not a banal issue), although they would not certainly dare to do such a thing with a painting, be it a "widescreen" version of "Mona Lisa" or a "flat" version of some of Goya's Scope framings.
    Miguel Marías
    Miguel Marías


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