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Touch Of Evil (1958)

To coincide with a nationwide re-release of Touch Of Evil, and a BFI season to mark the centenary of Orson Welles during July and August (2015), we take a look at the BBFC file for the 1958 thriller.

Tags: bbfc, archive, drama, thriller

Touch Of Evil, Orson Welles' final Hollywood film, is a dark story of a Mexican narcotics detective, Miguel Vargas (Charlton Heston), and his wife Susie (Janet Leigh), who become embroiled in a world of crime and corruption as Miguel’s investigations into narcotics rings bring him into conflict with local law-enforcer Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles).

Touch Of Evil arrived at the BBFC for classification in April 1958, and much of the original film file is lost. BBFC examiner records do however include a cuts list for the original submission, available here, which shows the Board's concerns about scenes of violence, implied gang rape, and gore in the film.  With these reductions made, the film was passed A, meaning it was more suitable for adults.

Subsequent video submissions of Touch of Evil in 1994, 1996, 1999 and 2004, reinstated the material removed to achieve the A certificate. Each of these video submissions was classified 12. The Examiner report from August 1994, available here, describes the film's "sinister and dark edge", "drug references, an implied group rape and moments of pure horror", which went beyond BBFC Guidelines at PG, leading the BBFC to classify Touch Of Evil at the restrictive 12 rating on video.

The film was submitted again in 2014, and classified 12A for cinema release, with the short BBFCinsight highlighting the key classification issues: "moderate violence, threat, drug references".  The long BBFCinsight for the film describes these issues in more detail, and is available on the BBFC website and free Apps.

Touch Of Evil is in cinemas nationwide from 26 June (2015), and on DVD/Blu-ray from 20 July (2015). 

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