straight down the line

Touch of Evil Sounds

The Touch of Evil Opening Shot and Touch of Evil (no restored version) have very different feels to them, even though the action is all the same. The differences also connect to the Helen Hanson reading “The Ambiance of Film Noir” about how sound is an essential component to noir. In Touch of Evil, it is clear that there is a bomb in the car the whole time because you see it, but the ominous opening music in the non-restored version lends an extra reminder that something bad is going to happen. I preferred the restored version with the noise of the city, because there was no constant reminder that something bad would happen. The music in the background was jazzy and upbeat, so I almost forgot that there was a bomb until it blew up. That jolt was an effective way of conveying what the characters in the story were feeling when the car blew up. However, the theme song in the non-restored version created a necessary mood to the film. The theme had a sense of urgency in the percussion, and a sense of danger with the focus on low brass. Hansen argues that noir is a mood, which was conveyed through the ominous music. Hansen also argues that city sounds also lend mood to noir films because cities are inextricably linked with the narratives in noir stories. The restored version uses the city sounds to set up the scene in this way. Just as Hansen points to nightclubs as essential aspects of sound in noir, the restored version of “Touch of Evil” has music that could be from a nightclub wafting over the air (and sometimes interrupted with goats trying to cross the road). This layering is also pointed out in Hansen’s argument, but is absent from the non-restored version of “Touch of Evil.” Overall, both versions of the opening to “Touch of Evil” were sufficiently noir-ish (at least when compared with Hansen’s argument), but I personally found the restored version more effective on an emotional scale because of the jarring difference between a normal city night and a car blowing up.

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