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Compulsion (1959)

Approved | | Biography, Crime, Drama | April 1959 (USA)
2:26 | Trailer

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Two wealthy law-school students go on trial for murder in this version of the Leopold-Loeb case.



(screenplay), (based on the novel by)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Police Lt. Johnson (as Robert Simon)
Charles Straus
Mr. Steiner
Mrs. Straus aka 'Mumsy'
Padua - Horn's Assistant


In Chicago in 1924, Artie Strauss and Judd Steiner are friends and fellow law students who come from wealthy backgrounds. They have few true friends as they believe all their contemporaries to be intellectually inferior. Although Judd acts arrogantly towards others his inherent weakness is understood and exploited by Artie and indeed Judd appears to relish his submissiveness to Artie. Part of their goal in life, influenced perhaps by their admiration for Nietzsche, is to experience how it feels to do anything one pleases. They thus plot to commit what they consider the perfect crime - a kidnapping and murder - not only in order to experience killing for killing's sake, but also - especially in Artie's case - to taunt the authorities after the fact. They believe themselves above the law. The actual killing of little Paulie Kessler, and the subsequent attempts to cover their tracks, are not so perfect however. Sid Brooks, a fellow student (who also works for the Globe newspaper) whom ... Written by Huggo, edited with some additional material by Chrid

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


You know why we did it? Because we damn well felt like doing it! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

April 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Zwang zum Bösen  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm magnetic prints) (Westrex Recording System)| (35 mm optical prints) (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Bradford Dillman and E.G. Marshall appeared in The Bridge at Remagen (1969) (1969). See more »


When D.A. Horn is interviewing Straus, Horn sits down in a chair that was meant for Straus and moves a floor lampshade back down that had been directing its light at that chair. Straus moves to stand beside the floor lamp. The light is then variably on and off as shots between the two change. See more »


[first lines]
Judd Steiner: To the perfect crime!
Arthur Straus: Crime. Oh, my wealthy fraternity brothers. 67 dollars, and a second-hand typewriter.
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: CHICAGO, 1924 See more »


Version of Rope (1948) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

I agree with Ms. Brown COMPLETELY
5 January 2007 | by See all my reviews

I had never even heard of this movie until today.WHERE in the world are the historians?This is on par for courtroom drama with Lionel Barrymore's great dissertation at the end of, "A Free Soul"-1931.This, also, was a fact based portrayal of Adele Rogers St.John's father's career.

I have to concur with Ms. Brown, and ask the question as to why this movie is not shown more often;i saw it on AMC. The bottom line is the line by Mr. Darrow:"You don't stop killing human beings by killing human beings".Mr. Welles was never in finer form, than when he gives this speech... i understand this speech is verbatim of the transcript of the trial.

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