In TOUCH OF EVIL, when Vargas rampages through the strip club, every angle we are given of his rampage comes at us from every angle we are given of the strip club on prior visits. The angle of shots of Vargas’ rampage, in fact, summarizes, and caps all the other visits. It gives us closure. This comes at the end of the movie. The reason we need this closure is because prior to the rampage when we visit the strip club we visit it at different times of day, and different activities are going on, naturally, making it look like different places. It’s not, since the film covers a 24-hr period, it can only be the same place at different times of day.
Why are we confused by the bar visits? Because welles gives us no establishing shots. The establishing shot that we should get for every bar visit is in the opening shot; that deep, penetrating angle we get when the camera looks up from the time bomb.
Just like the INTERIOR visits to the strip bar are synopsized at the end by vargas’ rampage, the EXTERIOR angles of the strip bar that we should during street scenes are synopsized in the opening shot: welles said it himself, everything that is important is in that opening shot. when vargas crosses to the bar from his hotel, before that quinlan stands in front of the honeymoon hotel and mentions susan doesn’t look Mexican, when quinlan and the cops cross the border, when susan looks out her window after pancho throws the bulb, when uncle joe is in the parking shack and chases pancho; only one thing ties all these angles together. The little silhouette of the stripper on top of rancho grande. Welles very painstakingly made sure that little stripper silhouette is on top of every town scene. We don’t get an establishing shot to the bar visits. And once we see every angle of the strip bar in the opening shot, we are never again given the same angle again twice; which stands completely opposed to what any other Hollywood director would do.
The letter boxing unceremoniously slashes off the top, and bottom of every scene. What did welles put at the top of his framing? The little stripper silhouette that ties all these scenes together.
So you see jeff, aesthetics is not a matter of taste, it’s a matter of education, theory, and research. Lots of idiots around think CITIZEN KANE sucks.