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I Died a Million TimesGangster Noir in Midcentury America$
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Robert Miklitsch

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043611

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043611.001.0001

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Touch of Evil

Touch of Evil

Good Cop/Bad Cop

(p.155) 6 Touch of Evil
I Died a Million Times

Robert Miklitsch

University of Illinois Press

If Touch of Evil (1958) touches on what the director, commenting on the film, calls the “abuse of police power,” this Orson Welles picture is especially pertinent in the context of the ’50s “bad cop” film, since despite the fact that it’s dominated by his performance as corrupt police captain Hank Quinlan, Touch of Evil is not customarily thought of as a rogue cop movie. Just as, say, Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) has transcended its generic status as a private-detective film, so too Touch of Evil--thanks to its extraordinary formal ingenuity and expressionist rhetoric as well as its investigation of the politics of race and sexuality, the law and the border--has long since transcended its origins in Whit Masterson’s pulp fiction, Badge of Evil (1956). Welles’s picture nevertheless remains a product of a particular cultural-historical moment in which it signifies, according to Jonathan Munby, the “end of the line” of gangster noir, as well as the “passing of two distinctive crime types”: “the femme fatale,” Tanya, and the “morally ambivalent rogue cop,” Hank Quinlan.

Keywords:   rogue cop, gangster, film noir, race, racism, border, sexuality, law, Touch of Evil

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