Re: RARA-AVIS: Welles - Touch Of Evil

From: Jim Beaver (
Date: 21 Jan 2000

> There are 3 versions of how Welles got the director's job, as told by
> Heston, Zugsmith and Welles. I suspect each had their own
> agenda/perspective. After extensive research, this is what I suspect
> happened:
> 1) Badge of Evil by Whit Masteron) published 1956 to good reviews and
> two hardcover printings.
> 2) Eddie Muhl, head of Universal bought the rights and made Albert
> Zugsmith producer.
> 3) Zugsmith got writer Paul Monash to write a script in 4 weeks, did not
> care for it and put it on the pile.
> 4) Welles got a job as the baddy on the Zugsmith-produced Man In The
> Shadow (1957), and so got the job of baddy in Badge Of Evil.
> 5) December 1956, Muhl suggested Heston for the lead.
> 6) After reading the script, Zugsmith asked Heston (a man of power at
> the time) who he thought should direct. Heston said that Welles, already
> cast as the baddy, is a pretty good director.
> 7) Over a drink, Zugsmith offered Welles a chance to direct again. Which
> script? Why Badge Of Evil of course.
> 8) Zugsmith gives Welles 2 weeks to rewrite - Welles takes 17 days.
> Welles used some of the Monash script, put in more scenes from the
> novel, and then added themes and scenes of his own. There are
> differences of course, as other list members have indicated, but Welles
> wholly invented the characters of Tanya and the night clerk.
> 9) Welles met Heston on January 14 1957 to talk about the film.
> 10) Between Jan 22-26, Welles cut 25 pages from the script (scenes which
> Zugsmith said would bore the teenagers watching).
> 11) Rehearsals began February 9, for 9 days.
> 12) Filming began on February 18 doing the long, continuous shot of the
> interrogation in the Sanchez house (which people forget is one take). By
> the end of the day, Welles had completed 12 pages of script, and was 2
> days ahead of schedule

None of this, as I recall, conflicts with Heston's account, which is considerably less detailed in terms of dates. The only things I can think of to add are these: Heston was close friends with actor Milburn Stone, who was making a great success in a relatively new TV series called GUNSMOKE. Watching his pal on GUNSMOKE, Heston spotted Dennis Weaver and offered him the role of the aforementioned night clerk (perhaps the most bizarre character I've ever seen on film).

And, when filming was over and Heston was shown a rough cut, he smiled at Welles and said, "You bastard. The movie's not about a Mexican cop anymore. It's about the downfall of Hank Quinlan." Quinlan, of course, was Welles's character, who, as reported earlier, was of lesser importance in the novel.

Jim Beaver

# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 21 Jan 2000 EST