I'm just finishing up a transcription of Welles' entire memo on TOUCH OF EVIL, although I haven't transcribed the excepts that were already published in FILM QUARTERLY (and later in the paperback version of THIS IS ORSON WELLES), but now think it would make sense to transcribe that as well, so the whole memo can be easily read from beginning to end in one place.
Would anyone be interested in helping transcribe the portion of the memo that was already published in FILM QUARTERLY and THIS IS ORSON WELLES? Then, we could combine the text of the whole memo, and post it on the Wellesnet site - (I'm assuming Jeff would be happy to post it).
Anyone willing to help, and who might need a copy of the memo excerpts from FILM QUARTERLY, e-mail me at: email@example.com
Here's a preview of the first two pages
DATE: December 5, 1957
TO: Edward I. Muhl, Vice-President in charge of production
FROM: Orson Welles, writer and director of TOUCH OF EVIL.
I much regret that a business meeting Friday and illness Monday prevented me from seeing the picture until Tuesday. Work on the following notes was commenced as soon afterwards as I could obtain help in the typing.
Unhappily, my illness has slowed me up somewhat, and an unexpected shortage in secretarial help finds me, at the end of a long day, without a fair copy of the remainder of these notes to put into your hands. I shall go on working through the night, however, and with typists getting an early start tomorrow, it's safe to promise you the complete memo sometime before the end of the morning.
# # # # #
I assume that the music now backing the opening sequence of the picture is temporary...
As the camera roves through the streets of the Mexican bordertown, the plan was to feature a succession of different and contrasting Latin American musical numbers - the effect, that is, of our passing one cabaret orchestra after another. In honky-tonk districts on the border, loudspeakers are over the entrance of every joint, large or small, each blasting out it's own tune by way of a "come-on" or "pitch" for the tourists. The fact that the streets are invariably loud with this music was planned as a basic device throughout the entire picture. The special use of contrasting "mambo-type" rhythm numbers with rock 'n' roll will be developed in some detail at the end of this memo, when I'll take up details of the "beat" and also specifics of musical color and instrumentation on a scene-by-scene and transition-by-transition basis.
In the version I was shown yesterday, it's not clear where you have decided to place the credits. A brief report on this will determine whether or not my old ideas for sound and music patterns in this opening reel are still of some potential value. Since a clear description of this original plan will occupy some space and take a little more time to put together, I'll postpone this pending your reply.
The moment when Vargas says to Susan, "Don't be morbid..." is an unpleasant one and creates a harmful impression. (In an earlier memo, I made a strong point of this.)
In Welles script the scene goes as follows:
MIKE: Susie, don't you come any closer... it's bound to be messy... We'll have to postpone the soda, I'm afraid...
Susan: Why? Can't I come and see, too?
Mike: Darling, don't be morbid.
Susan: Well, what are you being, for golly's sake? Anyway, it happened over here on the American side -- so --
Mike: So it's none of my business?
Susan: That's sort of what I mean, I guess.