Philip Lathrop, DP Russell Metty’s camera operator on one of the most famous boom shots in the history of cinema: the spectacular opening of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil, goes over the next setup with star-director Orson Welles. Charlton Heston has something to drink.
Jeff Boortz, creative director at 3 ring circus at the time, explained how “everything in the frame has meaning” making a systematic analysis of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil initial sequence. Boortz explained the parallelism between a film director and a motion graphic artist: The director must tell the actors and camera what to do, the motion graphic artist must do the same, it just that there are no actors, just graphic elements, but the narrative challenges are the same. Each element, frame and camera movement “everything in the frame” must work in harmony to reinforce the cinematographic narrative, and be able to successfully tell the story. This is our take on that analysis. The best way to understand this, is to watch first the original movie sequence and then watch the analysis. Otherwise can be overwhelming and confusing. One of the best motion graphic classes that we have ever received. Thank you Mr. Boortz. —Deconstructing Motion Graphics (Touch Of Evil, 1958)
The following notes were received from Orson Welles after he viewed the re-cut version of the entire picture which included the new close-up shots directed by Harry Keller:
DATE: December 5, 1957
TO: Edward I. Muhl, Vice-President in charge of production Universal-International Pictures
FROM: Orson Welles, writer and director of TOUCH OF EVIL
Touch of Evil, revised final screenplay by Orson Welles [pdf]. (NOTE: For educational purposes only)