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Sunday March 3rd 2024

Touch Of Evil | 1958

Touch Of Evil film location: Ballona Lagoon Bridge, Pacific Avenue, Marina Peninsula
Touch Of Evil film location: Quinlan's final reckoning: Ballona Lagoon Bridge, Pacific Avenue, Marina Peninsula

Orson Welles returned to Hollywood twenty years after his last American film, the studio-bound Macbeth, to film Whit Masterson's novel Badge of Evil, adapting the book himself.

Universal wanted him to make the movie in the studio. Welles wanted to film the corrupt and decaying labyrinth of a Mexican border town in Tijuana or Juarez, but Mexican authorities objected to the sleaziness of the script.

In the end it was writer Aldous Huxley who came up with the inspired choice of Venice.

Touch Of Evil film location: Windward Avenue, Venice, California
Touch Of Evil film location: the 'Mexican border town': Windward Avenue, Venice, California

The once-elegant re-creation of the Italian city, with canals and arched walkways, had degenerated into a decrepit backwater, the buildings crumbling , the stagnant canals stinking and oil derricks disfiguring the landscape.

The area has been spruced up since the Fifties with a bright, Bohemian hippy vibe. Much has gone but the remaining arcades can be seen on Windward Avenue, between Pacific Avenue and Speedway, where there's now also a huge mural, Touch of Venice, commemorating the filming.

Touch Of Evil: Windward Avenue, Venice, California
Touch Of Evil: the 2012 mural commemorating filming: Windward Avenue, Venice, California

With a bit of a jolt from 1958 to 2023, this bit of Windward Avenue is where Barbie and Ken get their new outfits in the real world in Barbie.

The screenplay’s ending was rewritten to suit the locale.

The canal bridge, where Caps Quinlan (Welles himself) – the great detective but lousy cop – meets his fate, is Ballona Lagoon Bridge, crossing Ballona Lagoon at Pacific Avenue and Lighthouse Street in the Marina District, just south of Venice The oil rigs are long gone and smart new housing now occupies the area.