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Hank Quinlan

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Hank Quinlan

Hank Quinlan, as portrayed by Orson Welles

It's a dirty job enforcing the law, but it's what we're supposed to be doing, isn't it?
~ Officer Mike Vargas
I don't know about you, but when a murderer's loose I'm supposed to catch him.
~ Captain Quinlan

Police Captain Hank Quinlan is the main antagonist in the 1958 noir crime thriller Touch of Evil, based on the novel Badge of Evil, and directed by Orson Welles, who also played the character.

He is a veteran officer from an American border town that connects with Mexico, and while he does greatly at capturing criminals, his methods are questionable to say the least. Quinlan is a widower, and since his wife's murderer escaped from him while he was still a rookie cop -but was later killed during WWI, as Hank himself implies-, he became relentless in his fight against crime, resorting to such tactics as planting fake evidence to get a suspect arrested. He was an alcoholic for some time, presumably after his wife's death, but then he changed the drink for candies, thus becoming fat. He also uses a cane since he was shot on his leg years ago; the bullet was originally intended for his partner Peter Menzies, who admires him and helps him in solving cases. It is also implied that, to some extent, Menzies has been covering Quinlan to help him get away with his underhanded tactics.

When Mexican police officer Mike Vargas arrives in town, he cooperates with Captain Quinlan's team in solving the murder of a local tycoon via dynamite. At first, Hank simply dismisses Vargas' observations because he's from Mexico and the explosion itself took place in the USA (though presumably he also thinks of Vargas as inferior because of his nationality). But when the foreign officer starts questioning his methods, Quinlan would cross the line, secretly associating with a renowned crime family to try and put criminal charges on Vargas' wife, Susie, in an attempt to discredit him.

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