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By Film Threat Staff | July 6, 2006

The restored and rarely screened Orson Welles’ cult classic “Touch of Evil” will be showcased on the third day of the inaugural Fullerton Film Festival, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, August 5, at the Plummer Auditorium.

The four-day festival, August 3 through 6, presents an eclectic mix of 20 feature films and 20 short films in four venues in downtown Fullerton, and honors five influential, groundbreaking films that shaped the decades from the 1960s through 2000 in a series entitled “Decades Under the Influence.”

“Touch of Evil” was Welles’ fifth Hollywood film and the last American motion picture he ever made. The film was taken from writer-director Welles and re-edited. Welle’s later disowned the film.

When it was released in 1958, it was considered rebellious and unorthodox for the time with themes such as racism, sexual ambiguity, police corruption and drug use – all considered an affront to 1950s sensibilities.

Although clearly unappreciated at the time, the film is now widely regarded as one of the greatest B movies ever made. A cult classic, “Touch of Evil” is truly a testament to Welles’ directorial genius. In the late 1990s, the film was restored meticulously from a newly discovered 58-page memo of editing instructions that Welles sent to then Universal International studio boss, Ed Muhl.

Starring Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, and Janet Leigh, the film noir plot focuses on south-of-the-border murder and intrigue. The film also stars Joseph Cotton, Keenan Wynn, and Marlene Dietrich in one of the best cameo roles ever committed to celluloid.

Immediately after the screening of “Touch of Evil,” actor Valentin de Vargas, who portrays “Pancho” in the film, will be on hand to discuss the film and offer remembrances of working with Welles on the project.

“Decades Under the Influence”

Five influential films spanning a half-century of moviemaking will be screened in the Plummer Auditorium throughout the run of the Fullerton Film Festival beginning with the Academy Award-winning film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” This 1967 motion picture directed by Stanley Kramer deals with the controversial subject of interracial marriage which, at the time the film was released, was illegal in several states. The film stars Katherine Hepburn (Best Actress), Spencer Tracey (who died one week after the film wrapped), Sidney Poitier, and Katherine Houghton. “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” screens at noon, Saturday, August 5.

The 1977 Woody Allen film, “Annie Hall,” starring Diane Keaton, is the quintessential modern romantic comedy with equal parts of melancholy and witty one-liners. Designer Ralph Lauren dressed Keaton in a style – layers with men’s ties – that she remains synonymous with almost 30 years later. “Annie Hall” screens at 3:30 p.m., Saturday, August 5.

From the 1980s comes “The Breakfast Club,” starring early “Brat Packers” Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, and Emilio Estevez. The 1988 coming-of-age classic has a legacy that can been seen in everything from “Dawson’s Creek,” to “The Simpsons,” to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” to “Friends.” “The Breakfast Club” screens at 11 a.m., Sunday, August 6.

Robert Altman’s gritty exploration of backstage Hollywood is featured in 1992’s “The Player” starring Tim Robbins as a paranoid studio executive with the morals of a garden snake. The film features no less than 60 major Hollywood “players” from Julie Roberts and Bruce Willis, to Jack Lemmon and Burt Reynolds in cameo roles. “The Player” screens at 2”30 p.m., Sunday, August 6.

Rounding out the series is the hilarious “Best of Show,” a send-up of dog shows, and the people behind them. Director Christopher Guest (“Waiting for Guffman”) along with a cast including Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, Michael McKean, Jennifer Coolidge, and Fred Willard, is truly inspired. “Best of Show” screens at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, August 6.

The Fullerton Film Festival

The Fullerton Film Festival was established to develop and encourage support of independent film in North Orange County. The Festival will inspire the vision of both new and established filmmakers , presenting stories to both entertain and enlighten audiences, advancing the reputation of Orange County as a vibrant and thriving film community. Developed by the Fullerton Historic Theatre Foundation, The Fullerton Film Festival will be the cultural hub of the local film and arts community. Venues for this year’s four-day event include the Plummer Auditorium, Wilshire Auditorium and Fullerton College. After renovations to the Fox Theatre in Fullerton’s historic downtown district, scheduled for 2010, the Fox will be the Festival’s premier venue. The event kicks off for the entire family at 8 p.m., Thursday August 3 with a free screening of “Mary Poppins” on the east wall of the Fox Fullerton as part of the popular “Movies on the Fox” program.

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