Monday, June 6, 2011

Touring Scenes of the Crime (Film) II

Here's more about familiar sites you might take in if you wander the streets of Los Angeles.
Venice Beach stands in for a Mexican border town in Orson Welles' 1958 noir, "Touch of Evil." The film begins with a close-up of a man setting the timer on a bomb. The camera pulls back to show a long columned arcade, and then the man plants the bomb in the trunk of a sleek convertible.
A man and woman, laughing and embracing, get into the convertible and cruise down a crowded night-time street in a Mexican border town.
This shot, about four minutes long, was filmed as one long tracking shot, and is praised by film critics for the tension, atmosphere and cinematic sleight of hand it displays. The car drives through the crowded streets, passing the shabby arcades with their old-fashioned columns. As it stops for traffic cops, pushcart vendors, and herds of goats, we wonder - when will it explode? Who will it kill?
The introduction of the film's hero and his new bride, walking along with the slowly cruising car and standing beside it as they clear the border crossing, heightens the suspense.
Orson Welles used Windward Ave. in Venice as the location for this shoot. The car passes the columned hotels and liquor stores on the north side of Windward, then turns onto Ocean Front Walk, passing what is now the Sidewalk Cafe, and the remains of the Mecca Cafe - by then a bingo parlor.

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